Woman of color protagonist! Dragons! Queer Girls!
These are just a few of the reasons why I totally dug Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells, a rad new young adult fantasy novel available from your preferred bookseller starting today.
When the Aurati arrive in Ilvera and forcibly take Kaia away to join their ranks, Maren is heartbroken. Kaia was her girlfriend, her heartmate, and she can’t imagine life without her so she hatches a plan to get her back. It’s an absurd one to say the least but Kaia is worth trying to steal a dragon if that’s what it’ll take to save her. All of this is set against the backdrop of a world with a less than kind emperor and a prophecy about a lost prince. Maren may be on a quest for her love but she’s about to find herself swept into a far larger struggle, whether she wants to be or not.
Maren is exactly the sort of character I love to see in a book. Give me more angry girls who are mad about what’s happened and who are going to do something about it! She refuses to be deterred by the numerous times she’s told no and keeps marching forward even though stumbling blocks are constantly thrown in her path. Apparently one does not simply steal a dragon. She also never loses her softer side or sight of why she’s doing everything.
One of the things I loved the best about this book was its approach to dragons. Wells makes a well-trodden fantasy trope feel fresh by putting a twist on it. While bonds between dragons and riders are fairly common, the idea of using specifically manufactured scents to both help facilitate the bond and to control the dragons is new, or at least it is to me. If anything, I would have loved to see more of Neve and what goes into being an Aromatory. Hopefully that’s explored further in the next book(s) in the series.
It’s also incredibly refreshing to read a book with an entirely POC cast and to also have a mixed race protagonist. (I have A Type and I will not apologize.) I also loved getting to see queer relationships presented as just being a part of life. Kaia refers to her mothers in the same way that Maren does her mother and father. No one passes judgement or acts as if they are out of the norm which, quite frankly, is how it should be because love is love. I’d love to see even more fantasy and science fiction novels do this. Diversity is a part of life and it’s lovely to see it reflected on the page.
Shatter the Sky feels like the calm before the storm of whatever the next book in the series brings but it’s 100% worth it for the dragons and well handled queer characters. This is definitely a book I’ll recommend to friends looking for a fun YA. Consider me impatient for the sequel!