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Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan – ARC Review!

In an empire on the brink of war…

Ahn is no one, with no past and no family.

Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child.

When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her arcane magical abilities.

But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than either could have imagined.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review & can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.

This was my first buddy read with Dini over at Dini Panda Reads & I so wanted to say I loved this one, it was one of my most anticipated reads for the year, but unfortunately it just didn’t hit the mark for me.

Ahn is a girl with no past and no family. She lives in her little village, looking after her grandmother, the woman who found her and took her in. But one day that all changes, attacked by two men Ahn finds a power inside her she never knew existed, one that can steal the life of any living thing. Taken by the priests, and sure her death waits on the other side of her journey, she is instead shocked to find someone she thought lost to her, but Ahn will have to decide whether she can trust this person, or if they wish to use her for their own gain. Altan is a Prince without a throne, after his aunt and uncle had his parents and sister killed, he has been determined to claim his rightful place on the throne, and once he meets Ahn, he knows that she might just be the person to help him. But trust doesn’t come easy to a boy who has constantly been deceived. Altan and Ahn will have to learn to work together, to trust each other, if they are to save the Empire and the people that they love.

If there was one thing that really stood out to me with this story, it was the lack of development be it character, world or magic, nothing was really developed enough, and because of that I really struggled to get invested in the story at all. Ahn and Altan both had the potential to be brilliant characters, but they just came across as one dimensional, they lacked any real emotional draw and though they have certainly been through some hardships, and go on an intense journey together, I just really struggled to empathise with them in any way. Some big events happen to them throughout the book and I just found myself going ‘ok, I guess that was meant to be big and emotional, but I’m getting nothing.’ If anything, I found myself more interested and invested in the side characters, who play pretty small parts in the story, but I found them more interesting & would have liked to see more of them.

As I said above, the world and magic system in Jade Fire Gold was seriously under-developed. A big part of this book is the ‘life-stealer’ and how they are the only ones who can return peace to the world, push back the desert, which is fine but I just didn’t get why? We’re given no real history of the world, why it is like it is, what exactly the author means by the desert encroaching on everything, why magic has been made illegal. We know the basic facts, but not the why and that meant that I just really struggled to get into the story. Dini and I were constantly throwing out questions to each other, why is this like this? Does that makes sense to you? and most of the time our answers were ‘I have no idea.’

Positive wise, because I really don’t want this to be just one big negative review. This is a book I would give someone who had never read fantasy before, some one who wanted to read something light, something where they didn’t have to put too much thought into it, and maybe if you’re that kind of reader then this would be the perfect read for you. I also enjoyed the authors writing style, it was descriptive and I did enjoy reading some of the fight scenes because of how well described they were. It has romance, which was a little too insta love whilst also trying to be enemies to lovers at the same time. It even contains one of my favourite romance tropes ‘there’s only one bed’ but because I really struggled to care about the characters, it just didn’t really work for me. Personally, I like a little more depth in my stories, I’m here for the books that give us pages of world building, spend the time to develop their characters until their wants, thoughts, and actions almost become your own.

Overall, this wasn’t a hit for me. I think I just expect a little more development out of my fantasy books and because of that I just struggled to get invested in the story at all.

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3 replies »

  1. I’m so happy we buddy read this but I’m also so sad that we both didn’t enjoy it as much as we hoped to! Especially since this was a much-anticipated release! Hopefully, our next one will be a winner 😉 Great review, Becky!

    Liked by 1 person

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