It shouldn’t be news to any long-time followers that Mary Fan is my favourite author, & once again she has written something that I love. I’m so excited that Windborn is a start of a new series, because it will help heal my heart now that the Starswept series has concluded. I really liked this steady opening to what feels like a powerful series & I cannot wait for more!
I was sent this book by the author in return for an honest review.
⚠️ This book contains scenes of magical torture, mild violence & gore, false imprisonment, modern slavery(?) & distanced families ⚠️
The Age of Fire is coming. It’s written in the stars.
Trapped by dark magicians, the air nymph Kiri is running out of time. Like the rest of her kind, she’s bound to her homeland, and if she doesn’t return in seven days, she’ll die. Her only hope is in the magicians’ young apprentice, Darien, whose fierce gaze belies a kind heart. Despite her warnings, he helps her escape, and Kiri soon finds herself fleeing from relentless pursuers who will stop at nothing to recapture her and kill the boy who dared defy them.
With the magicians hot on their trail, Kiri and Darien embark on a treacherous journey through dangerous lands. But she soon learns that there’s more at stake than her own life. An ancient evil is stirring, one foretold to consume the world with fire. And Darien is at the center of it—though how, she doesn’t know.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on her life, and unless she can make it back to her land, she won’t live long enough to unravel the dark puzzles surrounding the intriguing, secretive young man—or stop the monstrous force bent on destroying everything.
Windborn opens with a novella that Mary released a few years ago, & throughout this part of the book, the story is set in one place with one character – Kiri, who is imprisoned, has no memory of who, or what, she is or how she ended up stuck in a cage & her frustration was contagious. Mary’s ability to write an interesting & addictive opening with only one setting & one character was phenomenal, & it was an incredibly clever way to force the reader to empathise with the protagonist. The novella was a great way to open the story & it made me incredibly excited about the rest of the book, & the rest of the series.
I’ve read a fair number of Mary’s books, & her ability to create so many fictional worlds, all of which are individual & unique, never fails to astound me, especially as she’s always juggling more than one project; I’m incredibly envious of Mary’s imagination & I can’t help but become obsessed with everything she writes. One of the things that I really liked about Windborn in particular, & something that I think will cause others to feel the same curiosity as I did, is the inclusion of short passages at the start & end of chapters, which aren’t necessarily relevant to that chapter – instead, they give glimpses into what’s happening elsewhere, or what may happen in the future. These passages worked as a trail of breadcrumbs & stopped me from putting the book down to sleep because I was desperate to find more information related to whatever was in these small sections of writing. Mary is a genius when it comes to grabbing the attention of her readers.
Although I’ve called Kiri the protagonist of Windborn, there are actually three main characters who we get points-of-view from, including Kiri. One is Kiri’s love interest, Darien, who I actually found rather annoying to start with – when we first meet him he’s quite immature & just plain irritating, but he does mature & grow throughout the book, & when I learnt more about him & his background I found myself warming to him. I do think he’ll grow on me in the rest of the series & I want to know more about his background.
Kiri herself wasn’t actually my favourite out of the trio of protags, but because of the opening, I did feel a lot of compassion for her & I wanted her to be safe. We follow Kiri as she’s trying to get home & I loved all the details we got about where the air nymph was from & I loved that Mary included unicorns!! Kiri’s home & magic were truly fascinating, but she was just a lil’ bit too soft for me – despite this, I really respect Mary for writing a female protag that isn’t a typical tough, strong woman that we often see in YA.
My absolute favourite protagonist is Arrin – I lived for Arrin’s chapters during the read & if the story focused on her more then this would have been a five star read, rather than a four star read for me. Arrin is mature & strong, intelligent & interesting, & her path in the story was what stood out to me the most; she actually reminded me a lot of Bill Potts from Doctor Who so that’s probably why I fell in love with her.
Someone else I have to mention is Ilaerii – I won’t tell you much about her because spoilers, & she’s not really a main character but the world that she comes from induced so much excitement in me & I would love it if Mary wrote a novella or spin-off book all about Illaerii & her people. Marae sounds like an incredible place to live & I was obsessed with it throughout the book.
Windborn is the first in a new series by Mary Fan, called Fated Stars; Windborn ended in a really neat way with all the events closing in a satisfying way, whilst also leaving the door wide open for the sequel. Windborn is a solid opening to a new series, & hints to a bigger & incredibly powerful sequel. Mary has created a diverse cast that combines a bunch of YA tropes, whilst also throwing in a lot of surprises, & the writing allows the reader to make their own decision about the characters & whether they like them or hate them. This series has so much potential & I can’t wait to return to it in book two!
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