Today I’m excited to be part of the book tour for These Feathered Flames, run by TBR and Beyond Tours. These Feathered Flames is a queer retelling of the Russian folktale “The Firebird,” and I’m so pumped to share my review of this book, along with some of my favorite quotes!
My Review of These Feathered Flames
These Feathered Flames was an imaginative YA fantasy adventure, with exciting romance and plenty of political intrigue that had me waiting to see what would happen next. Told in dual POV from Izaveta and Asya, we get to follow their journey to cement their political and magical power, and their struggle to unravel the mystery of their mother’s death and the growing magical crisis in Tourin.
The first half of the book started off a bit slow for me, and I had to push myself through at times. However, there is ton of worldbuilding done in the first two hundred pages that really comes to pay off. Overy creates a really fleshed out world filled with a carefully crafted magic system and plenty of political schemes, and it’s all backdropped by rich Russian folklore.
I think the book is best in its second half — the romance between Yuliana and Asya blooms and the plot really thickens. I really appreciated the focus placed on the sibling bond between Asya and Izaveta; I love stories about sisters, and their struggle to find their footing in their relationship–while still remaining loyal and loving one another deep down–was really compelling and one of my favorite elements of this story. Another aspect I enjoyed was how different the sisters were, especially in how they exercised their power. Asya has physical combat strength and magical power, and is definitely badass even when she’s struggling to control her magic. In comparison, Izaveta has learned the machinations of court and politics, and finds her power through manipulation and trickery. Neither is portrayed as better or worse — both help them achieve their goals, and both face different sacrifices because of the consequences power comes with. I thought that tied in so well to the theme of the magic system in These Feathered Flames — everything comes with a price.
I do have to say I was a little more drawn into Asya’s POV — especially because I enjoyed the romance brewing between her and Yuliana. I love a good hate-to-love AND bodyguard romance, so I was really rooting for them. I won’t spoil anything, but I’m really interested to see where the next book will take them. Asya’s magic of the firebird was also super unique and exciting, and I loved the scenes where she gets to use her power.
The last few chapters of the book were a wild ride, and there were some really great plot twists that had me gasping aloud. Though the pacing was slow to start, I think These Feathered Flames really builds into a great finale. It’s a great story about the bonds of sisterhood, the different ways we find power — and what the cost of attaining power is — and how we exercise power, and is filled with captivating magic and Russian folktales. These Feathered Flames was an explosive read; I can’t wait to get answers about the cliffhanger and see where the story goes in the sequel.
Tropes you can find in These Feathered Flames: enemies to lovers; hurt/comfort; bodyguard romance
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
My Favorite Quotes from These Feathered Flames
“Asya was dressed in one of the outfits Izaveta had sent to her chambers. A bloodred coat with thin gold chains decorating the shoulders and dripping down her arms to end in heavy crimson gems. A short cloak hung down her back, trailing feathers like furled wings.”This might seem like an odd choice for a favorite quote, but one of my favorite elements of this book were the amazing outfits everyone was wearing! I could totally picture this outfit in my head and it looked so. cool. Definitely something I’d have pinned on a Pinterest board of “badass outfits I’d want to wear in a fantasy novel.”
“Strashe Vilanovich stood framed by the glittering facade that decorated the entryway. The light glinted gold in her hair, making her resplendent as the saints that lined the walls.”Yeah. This is just a favorite because of the angsty gay yearning. My girl Asya was comparing Yuliana to the saints…we love to see it.
“They both had to uphold this duty, this responsibility. It wasn’t something either of them had asked for, but it was something they couldn’t run from.”Okay I can’t say *too* much about this quote without getting too spoiler-y, but I really love it because I feel like it represents so much both about Asya and Izaveta as individuals, but also as sisters. Given that this book follows both their individual journeys trying to navigate politics and magic, and their relationship as sisters, this quote really represents their growth and also their commitment to one another and to their country.
When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm.
But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can only mean one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned.
As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love — and who killed their mother.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Alexandra grew up in London and moved to Los Angeles to pursue her undergrad degree in history at UCLA. She then went on to complete her MFA in Screenwriting, also at UCLA, and stuck around for the weather and the great ice cream. She loves writing in all formats, from novels to screenplays to graphic novels, always centering on fierce women and morally grey characters, often with a bit of magic and murder. When she’s not writing, she can be found baking, fangirling over her favorite books, or cuddling her kittens.