• Page Count: 304
  • Release Date: September 5, 2017
  • My Rating: 4 stars

Even the Darkest Stars Set in a fictional Himalayan kingdom, this is the story of a girl enlisted by a legendary explorer to help him climb the kingdom’s deadliest mountain – only to discover that his true mission may threaten her whole world.

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 every 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 cimbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then, Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer, 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 other dangers at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth about their mission and her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.

This was kind of like my experience with Three Dark Crowns where I loved the setting but wasn’t sure how I felt about the actual story until the last 15% where I was screaming internally and NEED THE SEQUEL NOW. So. good.

Ok… I’m going to try to explain the awesomeness of this story without spoilers. Kamzin is training to be the shaman in a Himalayan village in a fictional kingdom, but she isn’t as good at magic as her friend Tem. Kamzin would rather be an explorer like her mother, who died in an expedition that she and her sister Lusha survived.

One day the emperor’s Royal Explorer shows up in the village and Lusha (who can read the stars) vanishes with one of his men. Kamzin then sets off as a guide to the Royal Explorer, a super cute nineteen year old guy named River Shara. Her friend Tem comes along because he’s obviously interested in Kamzin aaaaand a love triangle ensues.

River explains to Kamzin that the emperor took the power of the witches and bound it, but the spell is weakening. He needs a powerful talisman that the witches left in their sky city on the top of Raksha, the world’s tallest mountain. Nobody’s ever climbed that mountain, but if the witches get their power back they could destroy everything. But Kamzin finds out there are two sides to every story… and that’s all I shall say about that.

I like this story a lot more looking back on it now that I know where it’s going. I did lose some interest in the middle while the characters and story wandered around a bit. And I’m not against love triangles as a rule – I just like it when they’re not the main focus of the story.

BUT THE SETTING IS SO COMPLETELY GORGEOUS and magical and I just loved it.

A lot of things seem sketchy or barely touched on because the actual plot isn’t revealed until 85%. It’s waaaay more interesting once the whole story gets going at the end! The plot twist is kind of obvious, but that didn’t hurt anything. It was just fun to see the story suddenly pick up and get AWESOME. (And the other parts of the story were never boring… I just wasn’t sure how much I cared yet).

Elements I loved
– SNOWY MOUNTAIN SETTING. I need more Himalayan stories, please.
– fire demons
– shapeshifting witches
– Kamzin’s familiar is a wee mangy fox
– fiangul bird people (travelers lost in blizzards who were possessed by winged spirits & lure others to the same fate)
– dragons!!!!
– solid writing
– I freaking love explorers.
– Kamzin makes a lot of tough calls and really directs the story through her choices instead of letting the story happen to her

So in the end I absolutely loved this world and am really excited to see what the sequel does now!!

Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC.


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