About the Author.
ALEXANDRA OVERY was born in London, England. Ever since she was little she has loved being able to escape into another world through books. She currently lives in Los Angeles, and is completing her MFA in Screenwriting at UCLA. When she’s not working on a new manuscript or procrastinating on doing homework, she can be found obsessing over Netflix shows, or eating all the ice cream she can.
Author website: https://www.alexandraovery.com/
Facebook: N/A Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19571930.Alexandra_Overy
About the Book.
Three Dark Crowns meets Wicked Saints in this queer #ownvoices retelling of “The Firebird,” a Russian folktale, by debut author Alexandra Overy.
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.
Twins have finally been born again in Tourin, something that is celebrated, but sisters Asya and Izaveta aren’t happy because they know it means they will eventually have to be separated. The sisters must go through a ceremony one that changes their lives forever choosing Asya to be the next Firebird and Izaveta to become the next Queen. The sister’s are separated from that day to begin their training, but before long, and long before Asya is ready the Firebird blooms in her veins meaning one thing, the Queen is dead and she must return to the capitol to see in the reign of her sister. Asya is excited to see Iz, especially having been separated for so long, but the person that greets her at the entrance isn’t the sister she knew and loved. Iz has been raised by her mother to trust no one and to use people to her advantage. She so wants to embrace the sister she hasn’t seen for years but can’t help being suspicious of her and the power that runs through her veins. After it comes to light the Queen died from suspicious circumstances the sisters must decide whether to work together or to let their respective titles set them apart forever, a choice that could effect not just the sisters but the whole kingdom.
These Feathered Flames is told from the duel perspectives of Asya and Izaveta. Asya never wanted to be the Firebird, and isn’t sure she will ever be ready to exact the price of magic the role requires. She is the naive sister, the one who looks at the world through slightly gilded lenses. She is eager to return to her sister, but when she gets there and see’s who Iz has turned in to she isn’t sure they can ever return to the relationship they once had. Her Aunt, the previous Firebird has tried to prepare her for the role as best she can, telling Asya that she will be shunned at Court and only wanted for her power, but Asya knows Iz, she loves her and surely her sister would never see her as a threat.
Izaveta spent a life caught in a Castle and role she never wanted, she hoped to become the Firebird and escape her home and her mother. She resent’s Asya her freedom and her power, especially when no one in court feels Iz is ready for the role of Queen. She has had to cultivate an appearance of ruthlessness, showing no weakness and never letting anyone in, even the sister she once knew better than herself. She is the strong sister, the resilient and sharp one, but underneath the standoffish exterior she is just a girl who has been raised to never trust, to only see people for what advantage they can give her, and she must decide whether she can afford to let people in, starting with the sister she’s not sure she can trust.
We also get a wide breadth of side characters, my favourites of which were Tarya Asya and Iz’s Aunt and the previous Firebird, Yuliana the Strashe (guard) sent to overlook Asya whilst she is in the Castle and Nikov, a scholar sent to investigate the loss of magic in the kingdom and whether it’s linked to the Firebird. One thing the author does incredibly well is show the difference in ages between all the characters. We can easily see the age gap between the Court, politicians, church officials and Asya and Iz. She writes teenage girls so well, Iz and Asya show just how young they are (I picture them as late teens though it’s never specifically stated in the book) with some of their actions and inner monologues, at times they could be so frustrating, but when you take their ages and responsibility into account it all starts to make more sense.
I really enjoyed reading about the Firebird magic. As we are always told ‘ all magic comes with a price’ and if that price isn’t paid the Firebird is called to take it. The price differs between the sort of magic used and can be something as small as loosing a piece of hair to being killed. We also get too see the differences between Asya and her Aunt as Firebird. Her Aunt having done the job for centuries is numbed to the role, but Asya is afraid, afraid of answering her first calling and of what taking the price will cost her. Unfortunately, as well as the Firebirds magic is developed the general magic system is left a little lacking. I would have liked to be able to understand it a little better, who could do magic, how they used it etc. I’m hoping this will be developed a little better in book two, especially with the Firebird’s magic being linked to the loss of magic in the Kingdom.
The romance was sweet and enjoyed seeing the relationship bloom between the two characters, it is an f/f enemies to lovers, but there isn’t that much angst but I liked seeing them move to friends and then to something more. It wasn’t rushed and it felt really natural to the story. There were also hint to another blossoming relationship that I’m hoping will get developed more in book 2.
In general this was a book I thoroughly enjoyed, there were a few bits I thought could have been developed slightly better, but with this being the first in a series the author has plenty of time to develop the world and magic a little more. I’m excited to read book two, especially after the absolutely shocking and cliff hanger ending we get in this book. Filled with plot twists all of which had me hitting myself for not realising them sooner, and some really relatable characters this is a must for any fantasy fan.