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Even the Darkest Stars Hardcover – September 5, 2017
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“An utterly inventive and wholly original debut.” (Booklist (starred review))
“With a dash of romantic entanglement, a rich original mythology, and a sizzler of a twist at the end, this duology opener will appeal to fans of femalecentric fantasy by such authors as Leigh Bardugo and Sarah Maas.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Brilliantly rendering aspects of mountaineering, debut novelist fawcett makes readers feel the constant danger and bitter cold.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))
“Fawcett brings snow-capped mountains—and their baleful secrets—alive in this magical, atmospheric debut.” (Evelyn Skye, New York Times bestselling author of The Crown's Game)
“Cinematically vivid…immersive and absorbing.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
“A deeply satisfying feast for fantasy lovers...I fell in love with this book from the earliest pages and have left the gnawed-off pieces of my heart scattered across the Aryas.” (Catherine Egan, author of Julia Vanishes)
“A lush adventure filled with magic, myth, and monsters. Even the Darkest Stars will sweep you off your feet, steal your heart somewhere between the mountains and sky, and leave you breathless.” (Sarah Glenn Marsh, author of Fear the Drowning Deep and Reign of the Fallen)
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Even the Darkest Stars was so captivating that I ended up reading it extremely quickly. Already I want to reread it to experience Kamzin's adventure again. Honestly I've never read a book like it, I strongly believe that Kamzin's journey is a highly unique one to the YA genre and combined with the incredible setting, fascinating characters and Heather's absolutely outstanding writing, this book is certainly not one to miss! Highly recommended to those who love a good mix of adventure and a bit of romance. ♥
The result? Even the Darkest Stars is an incredibly strong debut. To describe this fully, let me take you all through a check list:
Fantastic world building? ✓
A unique premise? ✓
An ending that has me DYING for book 2? ✓✓
And because I can't resist this one...a lovable familiar? ✓✓✓✓
So lets start with one of my absolute favorite part of Even the Darkest Stars, which is the world building. It's been a while since I read a good, well developed fantasy, so the descriptions of Kamzin's Himalyan kingdom blew me away. Heather Fawcett did such an incredible job of not only developing the small towns and mountains that made up this town but also bringing it to life completely. It was so easy to feel as if I was right there with Kamzin, River, and the rest of the crew, climbing Raksha while hoping and praying that no evil spirits or witches would appear.
The only thing that would've made the world building better in my opinion? The addition of a map! I feel like it would've been a nice touch to the story.
Even the Darkest Stars is loosely inspired by the early climbers of Mt. Everest. This is easy to see once you've read this book, because Even the Darkest Stars is the super out there, fantasy twist to Mt. Everest. The expedition to the top of Raksha brings so much adventure and mystery to the book. What I liked the most about it, however, was how there was so many other stories in play regarding this trip rather than just making it to the top of the mountain (i.e. the search of the talisman, the fate of the original explorers, and the desperation of the witches to protect the mountain which matched the desperation of the king to make it there). There's just so much in play, and it makes for one heck of a ride!
Last but not least, lets talk about the characters.
Two words that perfectly describes Kamzin? Feisty and determined. This girl has so much fight in her. Throughout the book, there's so many times were I personally would've turned around and given up, but not Kamzin. She trudges along, no matter the risk associated it. I admired that about her. She's a girl who knows what she wants, and while sometimes she lets it cloud her judgement, she still learns from the negatives that pop up from that. At the core of this book, Even the Darkest Stars is Kamzin's coming-of-age, and trust me when I say, she not only has a lot to gain but a lot to loose. Kamzin is someone who's sick of living in her sister's shadow, of always being the source of disappointment in father's life. For once, she wants to be the one who everyone is proud of, who doesn't make constant mistakes that embarrass the whole family. I got that about her, and I saw why this trip meant so much to her because of it. It was her chance to prove herself, that while she couldn't cast the greatest spells, she could climb a deadly mountain.
Moving on, I did like River and Tam but for very different reasons. River is the brave one, the one who appeals to Kamzin's adventurous and reckless side. I loved seeing them adventure together. Also, their relationship is imperative to Kamzin's growth as a character...I won't say much more about that, but I liked what I saw there. Tam is the boy-next-door, charming and rather tame but willing to do anything to protect the ones he loves. He was so incredibly easy to love, which is what made it so frustrating when Kamzin pushed away his needs and safety to satisfy her own desires.
While there is so much I enjoyed about this book, there is one thing that brought it down a notch in my eyes: an occasional lack of spark. Stay with me for a second, because I don't know if this is going to make much sense, but here we go. You know when you read the first book in a series, and you love it, but at the same time there's just something missing? Something that truly makes you unable go from really liking the book to down-right loving the book? That's what happened to me here, and I think it mostly had to do with the overall world building that needed to be down to set the course for the rest of the series. It happens with first books often, in my opinion, and that's okay.
In all, Even the Darkest Stars is a stunning debut! Combining intricate world building and well executed premise, Even the Darkest Stars will have you dying to know what happens to Kamzin.
Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett seemed like it had a little bit of everything – adventure, witches, ghosts, avalanches – which could easily be too much, but ended up being the foundation for a very interesting and adventurous story.
Things started off pretty great, the world itself I found quite interesting with a lot of different components and elements from different cultures. It very quickly sets the scene for an epic adventure of betrayals and challenges, all of which I was really anticipating and looking forward to. This was definitely a strong part of the book and I really enjoyed what Fawcett did with her setting.
We are introduced to our cast of characters and while no one was particularly unique, they all fit nicely into certain predetermined roles and personalities, roles I tend to like to read about. Kamzin is your typical outcast female lead, the one who isn’t expected to do wonders, and yet ends up doing something great. Her initial meeting with River Shara sets the scene for a love/hate relationship between the two, he’s obnoxious and that creates a lot of banter with conflicting emotions, but something I am an absolute sucker for. Then there is Tem, Kamzin’s loyal best friend who is the gentle, cautious and reliable best friend and, of course, the third leg of a love triangle that I could already smell a mile away.
The really hard part about a story based on a journey is that so much of that journey is just the characters going from their start point towards their end point. You can throw in some obstacles along the way, but the majority of the trip is just people walking, talking, moving, but not necessarily going anywhere. Not to mention that for the majority of the book we don’t even have any idea what it is they’re even on the journey to find! All we know is that it’s a talisman that is really important, but not important enough to tell anyone else about.
This was a difficult factor in the flow of the book for me. Considering the characters were somewhat cliche and fit nicely into boxes that we’ve seen many times before, they couldn’t quite carry this far enough for me. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice back and forth between them, romantic complications, etc etc, but it was all very expected and the foreseen path was pretty much laid out well before they even left home.
Things did pick up towards the end and there was a twist that could be anticipated but still made things more interesting and carried you quickly to the end. I really quite liked how this ended, it made the trip to get there well worth it.
This was a good read for what it was, I enjoyed it and read it fairly quickly, however nothing took me by surprise or stood out. But it was a fun adventure with a variety of different supernatural elements and an interesting take on witches. I would be curious to see how it continues in the next book.
Originally posted on citygirlscapes.com