Book Title: Heir to the Sky (Standalone) Author: Amanda Sun Number of pages: 384
As heir to a kingdom of floating continents, Kali has spent her life bound by limits—by her duties as a member of the royal family; by a forced betrothal to the son of a nobleman; and by the edge of the only world she’s ever known—a small island hovering above a monster-ridden earth, long since uninhabited by humans. She is the Eternal Flame of Hope for what’s left of mankind, the wick and the wax burning in service for her people, and for their revered Phoenix, whose magic keeps them aloft.
When Kali falls off the edge of her kingdom and miraculously survives, she is shocked to discover there are still humans on the earth. Determined to get home, Kali entrusts a rugged monster-hunter named Griffin to guide her across a world overrun by chimera, storm dragons, basilisks, and other terrifying beasts. But the more time she spends on earth, the more dark truths she begins to uncover about her home in the sky, and the more resolute she is to start burning for herself.
Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr review:
– An interesting world/premise that loses its steam as it doesn’t really sustain the early intrigue
– Solid action sequences against mythical beasts
– Instalust driven romance all day everyday.
– Doormat supporting characters who have no other mission than to support the protagonist
After much consideration, this book is either not for me or I just didn’t understand this story at all.
Full disclosure: I borrowed an ARC of Heir to the Sky from Amanda @ Brains, Books and Brawn received at Ontario Library Association’s Superconference.
I cannot with this book. I just cannot.
The blurb gave off vibes of intrigue coupled with an original-ish world–well actually, that’s not true…I thought of DeStefano’s Perfect Ruin initially. But the execution left something to be desired. A lot to be desired. There’s just this void where character development, world building, and the glue of conflict that should bind them together ought to be…and it isn’t there.
The synopsis lays it out for you: girl falls from the sky and wants to get back home because of supposed conflict.
But the journey back through an unknown territory never felt cumbersome; its consequences non-existence given the competency of its supporting characters and her sheer luck in every damn situation — so much that the protagonist doesn’t even have to do shit except than to just exist on the page.
The world in Heir to the Sky has a high ceiling of potential — I’m certain of this. Not only do you have the base world (home) to work with, you also have the unknown (“new”) environment to discover. It’s just jarring when the trickling of fantastical and steampunk is glossed over. What I mean by that is the world doesn’t feel rich and lacks layered depth. It’s like: “here’s a dragon trying to eat you” and that’s it, you accept it, no explanations required. This was the case for so many elements that made the setting read hollow.
It’s a blessing and a curse when a story reads quick and effortlessly. The choice of short chapters keeps the goings taut, but by the same measure, it inhibits the aforementioned world building to flourish. In essence: one problem weaves into other problematic areas.
Kali’s voice isn’t the most fun to follow as I found it difficult to connect to. Moreover, the dialogue is chock full of righteous entitlement that just doesn’t hold up for me. Like…how she has the audacity to constantly remind these strangers to help her (because she “has” to get home) is beyond me. The cherry on the cake? Romance hijacks the plot 1,000 times over.
I’ll stop being a negative nancy for a moment and say that the action sequences are engaging and exciting to follow. I mean, how can you go wrong with fighting gnarly beasts dripping with poison or mythical creatures infused with elemental properties. It’s rad.
The biggest what-the-fuck moments feature doormat supporting characters who gladly protect this random from-the-sky-heiress in every. fucking. situation. Perhaps I’m just a pessimistic individual but this story could have benefited with one ambiguous (“grey”) character.
See: it’s one thing to have a lead male (who is described to look like San from Princess Mononoke, see below) entranced by instalust and feel the need to protect the protagonist but the problem truly begins when no one else seems to bat an eye at this random person. This is made infinitely worse by the lead actively reiterating that she’s entitled and has to get to x destination. Seriously.
Griffin, in the book, also described to have a necklace and wore the fur of a beastly wolf or something I forget:
Let me put this into context: if you lived in a first world country and then found yourself in a third world context, you would surely be guarded as much as the culture and society ought to be guarded towards meeting you. I mean, what if you’re a fucking sociopath murderer — THEY don’t know that as much as YOU don’t know they could be dangerous. Yet there’s none of that; no intentions being questioned, no sense of doubt to struggle against. Everything is just so vanilla and inherently “good” that the representation of characters isn’t compelling at all.
And you guessed right: the “antagonist” is a bust.
It could be just me though (I’ll never know).
While I’ll admit Amanda Sun’s Heir to the Sky is a quickly paced standalone fantasy with good fight scenes with monsters alike, the intrigue that opens the story never really takes flight despite the synopsis promising the sure feeling of plummeting into despair after falling off the edge of the world.