These Feathered Flames / Alexandra Overy / Book Review


It has been seven years since fate separated Asya and Izaveta. At ten years old, the twins were set on opposite paths: one destined to be the legendary Firebird, one to be the queen.

Seven years, and the girls have changed irrevocably. Asya is a reluctant Firebird, training in the shadow of her aunt to exact the prices magic demands by its users, brutal and deadly. Izaveta has followed in her mother's footsteps, learning the best ways to manipulate and scheme to grasp utmost power in court. Before the princesses can complete their training, tragedy strikes.

With the death of their mother, the girls are brought together again to assume their roles at last: Firebird and Queen. But the realm is unsteady. The eternal source of magic in Tourin is Fading. Enemies external and internal threaten to overwhelm the court, and not even the Firebird and her sister are safe while their mother's killer remains free.



Well-Rounded World With a grounding background, a lush setting, and character relationships and motivations woven throughout the world, everything is perfectly in balance. Religion is important, but not all characters ascribe to it. Political power is a priority, but not all characters find themselves caught up in its web. There are contentious borders. There is unstable magic. There is chilling lore. Though These Feathered Flames is definitely a character-driven fantasy, not a world-driven one, the world is fleshed out and solid around the characters from the start. That is not to say there aren't some issues with the world building. There are some significant problems listed in my cons below. But this book has a solid world from the start.

Sisterhood I love stories that have a relationship at the center, especially a sororal relationship. The sister duo here have a complicated relationship, to say the least. Theirs is twisty and strained, filled with old memories glossed with wonder and childhood joy and new suspicions creeping through. There is love and anger and confusion. Izaveta and Asya make this novel what it is.

Unfamiliar Fairy Tale Russian fairy tales and folklore hold a special place in my heart, and I love to see them transformed for new audiences. There are a lot of fairy tale stories out on the market, and it is great to see an author transform one that is not so familiar. No Cinderella, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood here! A new mythos takes form on these pages, and I love that.


I know I said I like the worldbuilding, and I do, to an extent. I also know that the root to this story is Russian folklore, so it would make sense to have the world built of Slavic elements. I get that this was the point, but it just didn't work for me. That is, the world is both lush and... not, particularly because the Slavic elements that should be so crucial don't fit into the worldbuilding itself. Those elements just don't get tangled in what is otherwise immersive worldbuilding. That is, they feel like they're more adornments than real, crucial markers of the world. Sure, the characters ride bears and occasionally wear kokoshniks, but that's just a trapping, not a real, crucial element. This book just felt like it was full of lost opportunities, because the Slavic elements were more likely to produce the question "why?" than build onto the world itself. And that's incredibly disappointing. Splotchy Slavic Worldbuilding

Multiple points of view can be done well. Unfortunately, it wasn't executed well here. The narrative switches between Asya and Izaveta, two very distinct narrative voices. The style and the consistency were not problems here. The problem that arose was lost tension. Just as somebody's plot was thickening, the point of view would switch--and not in a good, cliffhanger-y way, either. Because by the time it switched back to the high-tension POV, that tension would have dissipated, the characters already on to something else. And that's a big mistake. The momentum was lost time and time again. POV Struggles

There's a slow-burn romance in this book (possibly more than one. You'll have to read it to see). Anyone who follows the author on social media will know that this is the case, and that the romance promises to be slow-slow-slow. And that's fine, usually. I don't mind a slow-burn. I prefer it, in fact, to the ever-problematic insta-love we see so often. But the romance here was glacially slow, to the point that when it turned into a real romance, it just felt... wrong? I guess that's the word I'm looking for. It just wasn't paced right. There's slow and steady, and then there's this. Whatever this is, it just wasn't right for me. Slow Burn



Those who appreciate rich and layered worldbuilding like Rachel Hartman's Seraphina should step into this new fairy tale realm. Anyone enamored by the courtly scheming of Sherwood Smith's Crown Duel should sink into this twisty web of court manipulation.


Publisher: Inkyard Press
Date: April 20, 2021
Series: These Feathered Flames
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  1. I bet the slow burn is between the sisters. That's why it felt wrong.


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