Even The Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett
Publisher: Harper Collins/Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: September 5th 2017
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
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.
This YA fantasy was especially different in many ways to other YA fantasies, but at the same time, very similar to what I’ve read in the past.
Set in the atmospheric mountains, within a small village is a girl who is desperate to leave her small town life and explore, see the world. It’s a concept we can all relate to and is actually a very common plot line in contemporaries. It’s something that I feel on the daily in my small town life in drizzly Great Britain. So, when the King’s Royal Explorer pays a visit with a challenge that Kamzin would be daft to turn down, we’re whisked off to the treacherous, magic mountains to reach the peak of Raksha, a place sheathed in mystery, magic, and myth.
I loved all of this, and I was especially excited to hear about the Royal Explorer and the task of creating maps of places where people have never set foot. However, the story wasn’t really about this, and instead worried itself with a love triangle (which I half guessed was gonna happen) and a lot of conversations between perilous trips from one camp to the next. There was a lot of talking, and while sure, talking moves a story along, it’s not as good as stuff actually happen. Things that I thought would be featured throughout the story didn’t start to unfold until halfway through the book, and the book itself was so much longer than it needed to be.
A lot of reviewers claimed that the ‘twist’ in the book made them give more stars than this book deserved but honestly, knowing that there’s a twist doesn’t spoil anything. I was underwhelmed, sure, I wasn’t shocked and I saw it coming from a mile off. But, if you’re easily duped and love twists, then you might like this aspect of the book!
I think the book on the whole was one great build up to the next, which is fine, disappointing but fine, but I feel that means the next book will (hopefully) be on another level. Literally. As it’s set in mountains *pauses for unimpressed groans*.
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