Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Even the Darkest Stars

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 h...

Title:Even the Darkest Stars
Author:
Rating:
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:304 pages

Even the Darkest Stars Reviews

  • Laura

    This sounded so different from your standard YA fantasy novel with the mountainous Himalayan setting being the most standout aspect. I was excited for the Royal Explorer to come in and pit sister against sister. Unfortunately, other than the setting, everything else was entirely forgettable. If I hadn't read this as quickly as I did, if only to get past the slow pace, I would've forgotten details needed to go on. Now after sitting on the story for a week before reviewing, I can remember the big

    This sounded so different from your standard YA fantasy novel with the mountainous Himalayan setting being the most standout aspect. I was excited for the Royal Explorer to come in and pit sister against sister. Unfortunately, other than the setting, everything else was entirely forgettable. If I hadn't read this as quickly as I did, if only to get past the slow pace, I would've forgotten details needed to go on. Now after sitting on the story for a week before reviewing, I can remember the big things that happen. But I'm wondering...what happened in between? The problem is I know that nothing happened. It just was so boring and slow until the big twist happens, which is actually quite predictable.

    The majority of the book is characters on a journey up the mountain with one sister traveling with the royal explorer and crew. The other sister is on her own mission up the mountain. It's a race up the trek, but Kamzin also feels the need to protect her sister.

    Oh, and you can't forget the magic. There is a magical system and Kamzin is training to be a shaman. Meanwhile, her bff Tem shows a great affinity for magic. And her sister Lusha is really into astrology and reading the future in the stars. I wish this magical system was better explored.

    It is unfortunate that the sister relationship wasn't used to the book's benefit. The story follows Kamzin, and leaves us not caring about Lusha at all. Lusha does a lot of off-putting things that made me wonder if she really even cared about Kamzin in the same way Kamzin did about her. It just felt like a bossy older sister who thinks she knows best, but didn't feel real beyond that.

    This feels like a bit of a wasted concept. It could've been done so much better.

  • Margaret Rogerson

    I had the privilege of reading an advance copy of ETDS, and it’s as incredible as it sounds - a breathless adventure in a truly unique setting. Though Fawcett doesn’t hold back describing the brutalities of mountain climbing, I couldn’t help but want to be there with the characters, taking in this landscape of sparkling, sharp-edged beauty layered with unforgettable monsters, high-altitude perils, and magic both gorgeous and terrifying. Above all, I’m sad to leave Kamzin and River behind.

    This i

    I had the privilege of reading an advance copy of ETDS, and it’s as incredible as it sounds - a breathless adventure in a truly unique setting. Though Fawcett doesn’t hold back describing the brutalities of mountain climbing, I couldn’t help but want to be there with the characters, taking in this landscape of sparkling, sharp-edged beauty layered with unforgettable monsters, high-altitude perils, and magic both gorgeous and terrifying. Above all, I’m sad to leave Kamzin and River behind.

    This is the rare book that transports you so fully to a different world you feel as though you have lived there and explored it yourself, destined to be read over and over until its cover falls apart.

    I absolutely can’t wait for the sequel.

  • Emily May

    Super special heroine... ✓

    Love triangle... ✓

    Hot dude #1 is lifelong best friend... ✓

    Hot dude #2 is an obnoxious newcomer... ✓

    Virtually nothing happens for 75% of the book... ✓

    The only reason I am not giving this one star is because

    . The author's world

    Super special heroine... ✓

    Love triangle... ✓

    Hot dude #1 is lifelong best friend... ✓

    Hot dude #2 is an obnoxious newcomer... ✓

    Virtually nothing happens for 75% of the book... ✓

    The only reason I am not giving this one star is because

    . The author's world-building is undeniably strong and I have never read about a fantasy version of the Himalayas with a culture based on that of Nepalese people. I want to rate it higher based on that premise alone.

    Unfortunately, though, nothing else impressed me. The characters were

    , and I seem to often have a problem with journey books when the plot in its entirety consists of a bunch of people moving from one location to another. It is especially dull in cases like this when the narrator (and, therefore, the reader) is not told why they are going or what they are looking for. It leaves me asking the question: why should I care?

    The strong sense of place cannot hold this book up on its own. It's a painfully-boring slow trek through the Himalayan wilderness as Kamzin develops feelings for the mysterious River Shara, whilst also trying not to hurt her best friend and ex - Tem. All we know is that River has been sent on an expedition by the Emperor to find something and he needs Kamzin to lead him there. By "there", I mean through the perilous Mount Raksha.

    . If you are a huge fan of mountaineering and think a mountain expedition sounds like an exciting story, then you might have more luck with this. But without more exciting characters, or just some tension or drama in general, I found it very hard to persevere. There was once in the whole book when my interest stirred - I made a note of it! - and that was at 75%, and it unfortunately didn't mark a turning point. The brief excitement quickly died down again.

    I thought there was a lot of missed potential, to be honest. In the early chapters, we hear about witches and mountain spirits - I was really intrigued by the bird-human monsters - but for the vast majority of the book, these are just stories and very little is done with them. The witches, especially, are notably absent

    , though theories about them pop up in many conversations.

    Ultimately, I just think neither the story nor the characters are particularly interesting. I applaud the author for heading into new territory, but this journey did nothing for me.

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  • Cait • A Page with a View

    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

    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

    ... I just wasn't sure how much I cared yet).

    - 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.

  • Tink Magoo is bad at reviews

    3.5 stars

    I know I carry on about the flow in stories a lot, but really it can make all the difference and pull a mediocre tale up at least a star and Heather Fawcett has a style that's so easy to read that I found it hard to put this one down (even during the slower parts). Add to that the small mountainside setting and an adventurous trek surrounded by mysteries. I loved those aspects. The pacing was a bit off through the middle (slow) and end (rushed), but aside from that, I'm looking forward

    3.5 stars

    I know I carry on about the flow in stories a lot, but really it can make all the difference and pull a mediocre tale up at least a star and Heather Fawcett has a style that's so easy to read that I found it hard to put this one down (even during the slower parts). Add to that the small mountainside setting and an adventurous trek surrounded by mysteries. I loved those aspects. The pacing was a bit off through the middle (slow) and end (rushed), but aside from that, I'm looking forward to some ass-kicking in the next book.

  • Hollis

    I'm tempted to award a whole extra star for the sole fact that this isn't a trilogy and everything will be resolved in the next book. Buuuut.

    Okay, real talk. The setting in EVEN THE DARKEST STARS is so cool (see what I did there, ps it's about climbing a giant freezing cold snowy ass mountain, incase you didn't know..), I'm pretty sure it's based off the Himalayas, and it's so vivid and breathtaking. Which is the upside to a book set around a journey-style adventure. Bad news? It's an entire boo

    I'm tempted to award a whole extra star for the sole fact that this isn't a trilogy and everything will be resolved in the next book. Buuuut.

    Okay, real talk. The setting in EVEN THE DARKEST STARS is so cool (see what I did there, ps it's about climbing a giant freezing cold snowy ass mountain, incase you didn't know..), I'm pretty sure it's based off the Himalayas, and it's so vivid and breathtaking. Which is the upside to a book set around a journey-style adventure. Bad news? It's an entire book set around a journey-style adventure. Which means there's a lot of not much happening because they are camping or climbing or cold or hurt.

    That being said, I (mostly) really liked our leading lady. She's probably supposed to be a special snowflake but isn't because she can't do magic, thereby overruling her father's desire for her to be the village shaman in training, she isn't pretty, she's the youngest daughter, and she and her bestie have already tried dating and failed at it. So even the love triangle.. isn't, really, though I suppose you could argue the fact. What she

    good at, however, is climbing. She wants to leave her small town and explore. So when the Royal Explorer, basically the second most powerful person in the kingdom after the Emperor, comes into town, she wants to impress him and help him on his mission to save the kingdom.

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    Other than our heroine, there were moments I'd find I really liked River, the aforementioned Royal Explorer. Some of the banter between them was cute. A little YA-y modern but hey, whatever. I'm not sure how I felt about Tem, the best friend and ex, but I liked the strength of their friendship and how that was more heavily emphasized than any jealousies. He also played a very important role in the journey other than 'I'm here because you need protecting/because I love you still/because other guy is cuter than me and I'm threatened' which was a nice surprise. As for the rest of the secondary characters, however, most felt me unmoved. Which is part of my problem with this story on a whole. I liked so much of it but didn't really feel anything? Maybe just because so little happened.

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    There's magic, mystery, witches and wintry elements. The pacing was pretty consistent, which is to say a bit slow as they journey forwards both literally and, for some characters, emotionally, but the ending left us with one or two major surprises that guarantee I'll be back for more. I'm hoping for a lot more action in the final installment, though, specifically with the witches that were more of a threat than actually present in book one -- which, considering the ending, seems like a natural next step.

    2.75 "I wanted to push against the world and feel it push back" stars

    ** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

  • Inge

    Gosh,

    was absolutely beautiful. The setting especially - most of this book takes place in the mountains, because our characters are trying to find an ancient talisman at the top of Mount Raksha. Incidentally, this book could really do with a map, but the world-building itself was very nicely done. We're talking about an age-old feud between humankind and witches, pet dragons, familiars, pet dragons, shamanism, PET DRAGONS. All of it pampered around this beautiful

    Gosh,

    was absolutely beautiful. The setting especially - most of this book takes place in the mountains, because our characters are trying to find an ancient talisman at the top of Mount Raksha. Incidentally, this book could really do with a map, but the world-building itself was very nicely done. We're talking about an age-old feud between humankind and witches, pet dragons, familiars, pet dragons, shamanism, PET DRAGONS. All of it pampered around this beautiful scenery of snow-covered mountains and star-filled skies. I was mesmerised.

    The story itself was also really good, though a bit slow. Even though Goodreads says my Kindle edition was 304 pages, it

    a lot longer. While I had a really good time reading this book, things get a bit monotonous when the characters are constantly walking and trekking, walking and trekking, doing some climbing, more trekking... Even this glorious mountainous setting get old after a while. Therefore,

    felt like it was 100 pages longer at times. It especially dragged around the 60-70% mark, when I wondered how we

    weren't at the ending, and read paragraphs three times without taking anything in.

    The ending, though, made up for a lot of that slowness. It definitely sets things up beautifully for the sequel, which I am very much interested in. Sounds like we'll be in for a good ride.

  • Emma

    DNF @ 74%.

    Hmm. Hmmmmm. I'm feeling very conflicted about this book. It had a really promising start, and the worldbuilding was consistently FANTASTIC. The descriptions of the rugged terrain of the mountain range, the snow and ice and glaciers, the sense of mysticism and legend, the

    ……….it felt like the kind of story told around a campfire on a chilly night, full of so much adventure and potential that you can feel it crackling in the cool air. Unfortunately...........none of the atmos

    DNF @ 74%.

    Hmm. Hmmmmm. I'm feeling very conflicted about this book. It had a really promising start, and the worldbuilding was consistently FANTASTIC. The descriptions of the rugged terrain of the mountain range, the snow and ice and glaciers, the sense of mysticism and legend, the

    ……….it felt like the kind of story told around a campfire on a chilly night, full of so much adventure and potential that you can feel it crackling in the cool air. Unfortunately...........none of the atmosphere and gorgeous settings were enough for me to push past the flat characters.

    Kamzin, our main character, is the younger daughter of the chief in her small, mountainous village. For as long as she can remember, she’s wanted nothing more than the chance to serve as one of the emperor’s elite explorers, traveling to foreign lands to chart the furthest reaches of the empire.

    Kamzin is a strong and capable climber and navigator. Sadly,

    . She thinks she’s superior because she doesn’t care about her clothes, doesn’t have perfect manners, and has Big Dreams of leaving behind her small provincial town. She looks down on the pretty girls who dance and flirt with boys (especially the very tall and handsome and douchey River Shara, who by the way she definitely does not have a crush on

    ). Oh, and she’s kind of an asshole to Tem (her best friend) too. He very clearly has feelings for her, and she kind of walks all over him in her efforts to impress River.

    She’s just……

    . Tem and River were equally meh for me, and none of the supporting characters were very interesting either. The love triangle was also a tired cliche (mysterious/famous/bad boy newcomer vs. sweet/supportive/boring best friend), and I didn’t care about the characters enough to be invested in it at all.

    It’s mainly a credit to Fawcett’s stellar worldbuilding that I made it through the first three quarters of this book. I hoping it would get better, that I would see more development, grow attached to the characters……nope!! If I had more time this week, I might have finished it, but it was feeling like such a chore that I finally decided not to continue.

    It also feels very long. The plot—or at least the first 75+ percent of it—consists of a very lengthy and tedious journey through an icy mountain range. There’s a lot of conversation and mountain climbing and not much else, so if that sounds interesting to you, you might enjoy this more. There were some interesting parts, and the descriptions of the landscape were truly beautiful, but it seemed to drag on for much longer than it should have.


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