About the Book
The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.
Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.
Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.
An unmissable fantasy debut for 2020 – a captivating tale of magic, revolution and mystery, where a young woman’s sense of identity will make or break an empire. Perfect for fans of CITY OF BRASS, THE POPPY WAR and EMPIRE OF SAND.
About the Author
Andrea Stewart is the Chinese American daughter of immigrants, and was raised in a number of places across the United States. When her (admittedly ambitious) dreams of becoming a dragon slayer didn’t pan out, she instead turned to writing books. She now lives in sunny California.
What I Thought
First things first. Let us talk about that cover. Evocative. Classic. Beautiful. Breathtaking.
The first chapter pulls you straight in, introducing you to protagonist Lin, and immediately gives you a fistful of questions that you want the story to unfold.
What exactly is bone shard magic?
What are constructs?
What happened to Lin’s mother?
Will Lin get her memories back? (She’s 23 and cant remember anything earlier than five years ago).
Why did her father foster Bayan?
Why does Lin believe her father fears her?
What is driving the rebellion?
Who or what are the Alanga?
What does the key open?
And right at the end of the chapter the question every book reader asks – Why do book characters never realise they are holding their breath 🤦♀️
Other than this slightly cliched line the writing is sumptuous. Andrea Stewart knows how to paint a vivid picture with words. Her characters jump from the page into the reader’s heart too. Even the Blacksmith, mentioned briefly feels real enough to care what happens to him. With only a few words and actions you feel the weight of his backstory.
The lure of the locked doors puts one in mind of Bluebeard. But Lin isn’t the only rebellious woman set to smash down doors and the story is told from more than her point of view. It’s an excellently used ploy to keep you reading, with each character’s little cliff hanger making you wait tantalisingly for its pay off.
This book is the beginning of a trilogy in a world that is so richly imagined, the story weaves between the different character’s journeys as much as between the islands of the Phoenix Empire. Who will rise from the ashes of rebellion?
Thank you to Tracey at Compulsive Readers and the publisher for the gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review. The book was also Goldsboro’s SFF pick of September and that copy came with the stunning stencilled edges you see on the picture at the top. It also came with a double sided postcard print with artwork by Andrea Stewart. Doubly talented.
Do check out the rest of the blog stops and order or pick up your copy now.