Published on: February 2nd 2021
Genre: YA Fantasy
Read: February 10th 2021 – February 12th 2021
Rep: aroace main character, non-binary side character, achillean side characters & relationship, visually impaired side character
CW: violence, death of a parent, homelessness, kidnapping, loss of bodily autonomy, very brief internalised aphobia
Orphaned and forced to serve her country’s ruling group of scribes, Karis wants nothing more than to find her brother, long ago shipped away. But family bonds don’t matter to the Scriptorium, whose sole focus is unlocking the magic of an ancient automaton army.
In her search for her brother, Karis does the seemingly impossible—she awakens a hidden automaton. Intelligent, with a conscience of his own, Alix has no idea why he was made. Or why his father—their nation’s greatest traitor—once tried to destroy the automatons.
Suddenly, the Scriptorium isn’t just trying to control Karis; it’s hunting her. Together with Alix, Karis must find her brother…and the secret that’s held her country in its power for centuries.
To put it simply, I’m pretty sure that this is a new favourite book of mine.
I really loved both main characters, and the friendship that develops between them! Karis and Alix were both really interesting and likable characters, and I enjoyed reading from both of their perspectives equally. Karis is one of those protagonists who just wants something relatively simple, in this case to find her brother, but in trying to do so she ends up stumbling upon something much larger, and unfortunately for her she’s too good of a person to be okay with walking away from it all. This is such a fun trope and Victoria executed it wonderfully! Alix has a much more personal connection to the Scriptorium than Karis does, but he doesn’t remember most of it at first. Karis and Alix’s initial decision to team up was one borne of pragmatism, and neither of them expected to end up meaning as much to each other they ended up doing. Their deep, wholly platonic relationship is the emotional core of the novel, and it means so much to me!
Queer characters are able to simply exist in this book without it being a huge deal. When the non-binary side character is introduced, they and their sister give their pronouns along with their names, and the exact way that scene plays out prompted me to send the quote to my partner in excitement because I loved it so much. Karis’ own aromanticism and asexuality is never questioned by anyone and is always respected. Terminology such as ‘non-binary’ or ‘asexual’ isn’t used within the text, likely due to such terminology not existing in the book’s setting, but there’s no ambiguity here. Finn is non-binary. Karis is aroace. And it makes me really happy to get to see queer characters in stories that aren’t about the fact that they’re queer.
A lot of this book is dedicated to discussions of free will, what makes someone a person, bodily autonomy, and consent in non-sexual situations. Alix isn’t human. He’s an automaton. And due to how automatons work in this book’s world, that means that he can be controlled by others. He can be given orders that he’s forced to obey no matter how much he doesn’t want to obey them. This is horrifying! And it would’ve been so easy for this to be glossed over, and for the implications and what this means for Alix as his own person to be ignored, but it isn’t! It being horrifying is fully acknowledged and explored, and I really appreciated that.
Another thing that I liked was that Alix wasn’t Karis’ only friend! Her friendship with Dane is also really important to her, they care a lot about each other, and they’re secure in their friendship with each other. As Dane is introduced at the start of the book it’s said to be popular among the girls on Tallis, but at no point does he give any indication that he’s interested in Karis like that. They’re best friends! They’re practically siblings! They love, support, and respect each other, and it brought me so much joy!
Also they end up joining a kick-ass pirate crew, which I’m so hyped about!! If that doesn’t convince you to read this book then I honestly don’t know what will.
I received an e-arc through TBR and Beyond Tours in return for an honest review! You can find the complete tour schedule here! or by clicking the banner at the top of this post
Giveaway (US Only)
One winner will receive a signed finished copy of This Golden Flame and some swag. The giveaway starts on February 15th and ends on February 22nd. Enter here!
About The Author
Emily Victoria is a Canadian prairie girl who writes young adult science fiction and fantasy. When not word-smithing, she likes walking her over-excitable dog, drinking far too much tea, and crocheting things she no longer has the space to store.
About The Blogger
El is a 21 year old university student from the UK who loves to read and loves talking about what they read. They particularly like to focus on books featuring lgbtq+ main characters.