by Lucy Hounsom
Set in a fantastical world, Mariar, we follow Kyndra as she embarks across the magical lands on an epic journey (epic in the sense of length, not amazement). Her voyage starts when she literally shatters an age-old ceremonial tradition and figuratively shatters everything she has known to be true – the superstitious town she calls home turns on her when circumstances escalate, forcing her to flee alongside the two magical who save her from prosecution.
Along the journey, the mystery of Kyndra’s power and her place amongst the magical grows when peculiar happenings surround her every touch. The suspense of the unknown and the details woven into Mariar’s tapestry as she enters unfamiliar cities and lands is the best part of this book. Reading is smooth sailing when there are flying ships bouncing amongst the clouds and street vendors to explore; not to mention the few mysterious persons scattered throughout Mariar.
This, I all enjoyed. However, the story starts to stumble when Kyndra is tested and challenged at a hidden school for those with a magical touch. Kyndra blindly trusts the good guys and the bad, often flip-flopping from one page to the next. The plotline in the hidden school is also very unsupported by previous encounters and I feel that the entire first half of the book is largely ignored – the two halves are jarringly different. Whereas the first half of the book slowly built suspense, teasing me with her secrets, the second half lacked steady control of the plot and everything kind of…ungracefully spilled out.
The most upsetting moment happened in the last 4-5 pages (I’m not a spoiler so don’t worry!) when she blindly ceded her trust (yet again!) and performed something so far-reaching and consequential without even a thought about why she was doing it or who asked her to perform the feat. In the last page, she even asks herself – “Why didn’t I consider my actions?”
Well, we’re all wondering Kyndra – let me know when you have an answer.
Romance: zip. zero. nada. Though, the beautiful fantasy details of the book kept me from missing the romance too much.
World Building: There were some stunningly descriptive moments in this book, bringing Kyndra’s unique world to life in color and vibrancy. However, the second half of the book lacked the imagination and beauty of the first half.
Writing: Plot aside, Hounsom’s writing is captivating and illuminating, but again, the second half feels inferior.
Overall: Due to the incredibly unsupported plot, the second-half feeling rushed and under-thought, and Kyndra’s unrealistic motivations and actions, I can’t endorse Starborn with a high rating.