Even The Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Posted December 2, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 2 Comments

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Even the Darkest Stars

Even the Darkest Stars

by Heather Fawcett

Series: Even the Darkest Stars #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray on September 5, 2017
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Magic, Survival
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

amzin 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 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.

 

If I hadn’t gotten Even The Darkest Stars in a Fairyloot box, I would never have read it.  In fact, I doubt I would have heard of it.  And that would have been a tragedy because it’s one of the best books I’ve read all year and I loved it.

What made Even The Darkest Stars shine so brightly was its setting.  The magic was good, the characters were good, the plot was good, but the setting and the atmosphere were AMAZING.  10/5 stars, honestly.  I felt like I was there climbing the mountain with Kamzin, hands numb and nails cracked and bleeding from climbing the face, wind battering… it was so, so good.  This book is set in a fantasy world, but inspiration for the setting is taken largely from Nepal and the characters spend time climbing a fantasy version of Mount Everest.  Not only is there the plot-driven villain(s) to contend with, but also nature.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the world was as determined to kill the protagonist as the bad guy, and I loved it.  It was so stressful, but also really beautifully written.  I’m amazed and delighted.

The characters were good as well.  I think there’s some criticism on Goodreads for this being a “typical love triangle” but I don’t think that was the case at all.  There were old relationships and friendships and friends to enemies and mixed feelings and all sorts of things.  Idolization to an edge of instalove… but even then…not really?  The romantic entanglements were so well-written and I never felt that romance took over any other aspect of the book.  The characters in Even The Darkest Stars felt alive and responsive to their environments.  It never felt crafted to me.  I loved it.  I loved all of it.

I honestly wouldn’t change a thing.

Okay, I would change one thing that happened near the end.  But not because it was bad writing.  It was excellent writing and I am displeased with it and I’m hoping something about it changes in the next book but somehow I doubt it because it also felt symbolic.  I love it when I go into books and come out saying “I didn’t like this!” but only because it was an excellent book and made me attached to the characters and I am sad but I understand.  The writing kept me on edge the entire time, and I liked the magic and its history and consequences a lot, I thought it was fairly unique and while it reminded me a little of Sabriel…. it was only a little.

If you’re looking for a book with high stakes and characters with a lot of grit, where the fantasy elements are subtle and the world will draw you in… you have to read Even The Darkest Stars.  I waited 24-hours after finishing the book to write this review because my reactions were mostly incoherent exclamations and excited flailing and I’m still reeling from how much I loved it.  So good, I very much recommend it.  It’s light on the interpersonal relationships if that’s something you like, but it has everything else I want from a fantasy adventure.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Writing: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★★

5 Star Rating

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Even The Darkest Stars Stays On The Shelf

Being real here – not only does this book stay on the shelf, but I’m highly considering buying the sequel ASAP (skipping to the front of the “to buy” line) because it’s not available to borrow in audiobook format and I don’t want to wait forever for the end of this story.  That is a very rare position for me to have on books these days as I’m trying to not buy so much, but wow.  This one swept me away.

It’s a damn good adventure fantasy and I love those the most and I will now be recommending this to EVERYONE.

So you better believe I’m keeping this physical copy.

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What’s the best adventure fantasy you’ve read?  Adventure stories are some of my favorites, so I’m absolutely DOWN to hear all your recommendations and see if they’re already on my TBR.  Hit me up in the comments!

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2 responses to “Even The Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

    • Amber

      I’m glad to hear her middle grade is just as good! I definitely recommend this one – I was surprised by how much I loved it. I think its lack of intense romantic subplot may have led to it fading away (a lot of the really trending books seem to have dark, twisted romances). Nevertheless, it’s a great adventure, and perfect for winter. 🙂