Book review · Fantasy · Young adult

Review: Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Even the Darkest Stars is the first book in a YA fantasy series. The second book is called All the Wandering Light.

I’ve never read anything quite like this.

YA fantasy is my most-read genre, but Even the Darkest Stars surprised me. It’s not about saving the world or defeating an evil ruler or winning some magical competition. It’s about climbing a mountain no one has ever climbed (and survived) before, and it’s set in a fantasy empire inspired by the Himalayas.

The setting felt magical, and it had a rich, detailed mythology. The people of Azmiri have familiars, magical talismans, and use small dragons to light the rooms. There are witches, fianguls, and demons who will strike dangerous bargains with you, feeding on your soul.

If you don’t like to read about long journeys, this is probably not the book for you. If you, like me, love description of cold, forbidding landscapes, and love to read about climbing, try Even the Darkest Stars. It’s also the perfect winter book.

I loved Kamzin a lot. Her curiosity, her love for the mountains – she didn’t feel like a typical YA character. She’s not good at magic or fighting, she’s good at surviving and climbing.
Some reviews say she has not-like-other-girls syndrome and… I don’t agree. Being a bit boy-crazy (and I’ve read far worse than this), not being feminine and having a difficult relationship with your sister doesn’t mean feeling superior to other girls! Can we stop hating on female characters for no reason?

I didn’t like the male characters as much. Tem is the typical YA best friend who is in love with the main character and tries to hold her back, and River is the bad boy. Yes, there’s a love triangle, kind of, but the main character states she’s not into one of them anymore, so… not really?

River was condescending and irritating for most of the book. Those are qualities I hate in love interests, and for part of the book I hated him.
And then I had a theory. A theory that made me stop hate him.
I won’t spoil anything, but I will tell you this: to make me like an unlikable character, you don’t need a tragic past, an excuse or a description of nice abs – you need the right framing. It’s always all about the framing.

I’m not even mad that I guessed all the plot twists. That was the way I wanted the story to go, and I’m glad it did.
And that ending. I mean, I saw it coming, but actually reading it…

Now I’m worried for the sequel. I don’t want the love triangle to reopen, or the book to take a black-and-white approach to the conflict. But this ending has so much potential and I can’t wait for the next book.

My rating: ★★★¼

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