Even the Darkest StarsSeries: Even the Darkest Stars #1
by Heather Fawcett
Published by HarperCollins, Balzer + Bray on September 5th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the Emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.
But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer who is determined to best River, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.
The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and even worse at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth of their mission and of her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.
You’re reading along, on the virtual edge of your seat. You’re at the so-called “resolution” of the book and BAM! You hit the “ABOUT THE AUTHOR” page… *sad trombone*
It was just getting really, really good!!
It’s okay. I’m okay. Honestly, Even the Darkest Stars was such a surprisingly awesome story, I can totally forgive the cliffhanger ending. Me, the person who really hates cliffhangers! Shall I elaborate?
I’ll try to keep this succinct but I’ve already tried three times to keep it short and all attempts have failed miserably.
Kazmin is the second daughter to the Elder of her village. All she’s ever dreamed of doing with her life is being an explorer like her mother was. Kazmin wants to serve the Emperor as a Royal Explorer and map the world for the Emperor. When THE famous Royal Explorer, River Shara, shows up in her village, Kazmin is beyond excited… until she finds out it’s her older sister, Lusha, that River wants to hire to help him on his expedition to the top of Raksha. There are only two living survivors of any of the past expeditions to Raksha: Lusha and Kazmin. But Kazmin is overlooked, yet again…
When Lusha takes off mysteriously with another rival expedition to Raksha, Kazmin decides to go after Lusha. Kazmin is torn between believing she is doing it to prove to everyone that she is the better explorer or to make sure Lusha is safe. Her best friend Tem volunteers to go, as well.
What I thought that really carried this story was the world building. Set some time in the past, in villages most likely located in or near a tall mountain similar to Everest and the Himalayas, Ms. Fawcett built a distinct, easy to understand world of humans and witches. There are dragons (small and on the wild side), familiars in the form ravens and foxes, and demons. Shamans use talismans in the form of bells and other everyday objects to spin their spells.
Woven with the fantasy is this great story of a girl trying to come out from under the shadow of her older sister to prove her worth, make her mark in the world. Kazmin has it in her head that she’s not as beautiful or attractive as Lusha because the men don’t flock to her. She’s stocky and built more like her father. But she has incredible strength both in body and mind. She’s an amazing climber and navigator. Kazmin is only seventeen years old and it shows at times but she’s on her way to being an amazing woman. At least I thoroughly enjoyed her as the voice and protagonist to this story.
I personally totally geeked out on the climbing sequences. It was evident from Ms. Fawcett’s writing that she has done some climbing in her past (hint: I have, too 🙂 ) Very accurate stuff, with just enough “holy crap!” added in to make it fun to read for all the non-climbers out there. I was a little worried that the hiking and walking stuff was going to go long and be boring but that wasn’t the case at all. A lot happens on this “little” adventure.
From what I’ve heard, this will be a duology with the next book coming next year. It really can’t get here soon enough.
It really can’t…
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: