Happy almost release day to Alexandra Overy!
A queer retelling of “The Firebird,” a Russian folktale, These Feathered Flames is a fantastic new read!
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 mean only 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.
“The Firebird’s flames burn scarlet, The mourning skies shine blue, If you don’t pay the price, She’s coming for you.”
I was very excited about reading this one. I haven't seen a lot of Russian folklore retellings, so this was a fresh one! These Feathered Flames follows 2 sisters, Aysa and Izaveta, who are called to different fates and separated, placed on opposite sides of the board of life. They're drawn back together after tragedy and have to struggle to see if they can trust each other the way they once did as children.
I really enjoyed the world building here, but I would have wished for maybe a bit more detail surrounding the magic system. We really only find out about in bursts, and I would have liked it to be more consistently developed. But…there were bears! That you can pet! There's also a lot of court politics and intrigue in this one, which was different for me, but I really enjoyed it.
This was a very character driven story, which I always love. The girls are both strong, driven, and sure of themselves. Aysa, being the new Firebird, struggles with her new duty to keep the balance, and those struggles are really well written. I also really enjoyed the relationships with the side characters. My main complaint is that we were in the character's heads a lot, being described of how they felt. I'm always a big fan of figuring out how they feel from their actions, but that's more a personal preference.
Some parts were slower than others, but overall it was consistently action packed and steady to move through. Alexandra's writing is beautiful and flows wonderfully. It never felt choppy or harsh, it was almost lyrical in some places.
This is an OwnVoices story, and the diversity within the story was amazingly well done. I'm super excited for the next book and will definitely be checking it out!
Overall, enemies to lovers, strong sister dynamic, and BEARS YOU CAN RIDE. Sign me up immediately!
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think!