Never leave the path.
It’s sacred law, punishable by exile.
When her son goes missing in the perilous mountains, Kaemada defies the law to search for him. She enlists the help of her hero brother, a priestess berserker, and a fire-wielding friend.
But the law exists for a reason.
When the search party is captured by the mythical Kamalti, they learn that Kaemada’s son was sent to an ancient prison city. As they battle for freedom, they discover a horrible truth that will change the future of both races forever.
With their world in upheaval, Kaemada must find a way to peace if she’s to save her son—but tensions between the two races are leading to war.
You know that feeling when you climb aboard a rollercoaster, go over the first hill and realise that it’s bigger, faster and scarier than you expected? That’s what Between Starfalls felt like for me. As someone who leans more toward fantasy romance than high/epic, this book took me out of my comfort zone with its darker themes, but it was worth it. Although it’s high fantasy, there were elements of portal, first contact and even a touch of steampunk, which added more intrigue to the already compelling plot.
The main character is Kaemada, a kind-hearted and optimistic young woman of the Rinaryn people. When her adopted son strays off the sacred path and is captured by the mythical cave dwelling Kamalti people, Kaemada leaps into action to get him back. Her brother Taunos and two of her friends, Takiyah and Ra’ael, come along to assist in the rescue. Unfortunately, everything that could go wrong, does. The Kamalti turn out to be nothing like the legends, banishing Kaemada to a prison city, and forcing the others into a long period of servitude.
The book splits into multi-POV, with the characters negotiating their individual circumstances and doing their best to get out alive. Kaemada desperately tries to find her son while coping with her ‘psionic’ talents (telepathy and telekinesis) and the unspeakable horrors that take place in the City of the Lost. Taunos – love him! – undertakes a battle of wills with a stubborn and prideful Kamalti woman named Answer, who has arguably the best growth arc in the book. Ra’ael, a berserker, fortunately ends up with one of the few sympathetic Kamalti, who wants to learn more about her people. And poor Takiyah just tries to survive under the control of her cruel, greedy owners.
The Kamalti are, for the most part, a horrible bunch of people. There is infuriating stubbornness on both sides, but their sheer arrogance and superiority made my blood boil. Despite that, as the story goes on a few decent folk among them make their entrances, showing that just like in real life, there is good and bad to be found on both sides.
It must be said that the beginning of the story is much lighter in tone than the rest. The Rinaryns are shown as kind, empathetic people, with close-knit family bonds and simple, happy lives, despite the dangers they face from various enemies (although this first impression turns out to not be entirely the case, later in the book). After Kaemada’s son goes missing, the tone darkens considerably, and my heart leapt up into my throat many times during reading. S Kaeth’s ability to weave tension at a fast pace whilst still maintaining emotive, almost lyrical descriptions is superb.
The worldbuilding is just *chef’s kiss* amazing, although there’s a lot of information crammed in at the beginning, and it took me a while to get the hang of the character names, language and flora/fauna. Avid fans of high fantasy will be in their element with this extensive, fascinating world, rich in history and mythology. Special mention must go to the terrifying angels, who reminded of the weeping angels of Dr Who fame and were absolutely chilling.
One excellent quirk of this book is that each chapter begins with either a cryptic journal entry, or a passage from various Rinaryn or Kamalti historical tomes. I found myself eagerly reading each one to guess how it related to the current situation. So clever!
Without giving away spoilers, this is Book 1 of a series and the ending literally made me gasp. It was a ‘mic-drop’ finish which has put Book 2 firmly on my To Be Read list, although I may need something lighter and more romantic before I dive back into this world.
One more point – I strongly advise that those who need to do so, take good heed of the content notes/warnings at the beginning. There are some dark moments, including mental and physical domestic abuse, enforced servitude and drugging.
Overall, this is a rich, immersive, beautifully written story that packs a serious emotional punch and will appeal to fans of epic and high fantasy. A wonderful read.
About the Reviewer
Vicky Walklate is a romance, fantasy and historical fiction author from Norfolk, UK. Book 1 of her debut fantasy romance series was published by Champagne Book Group in June 2021, with Book 2 currently in the revision stage. She also has a contemporary romance short story due for release in an anthology later in 2021, with Violet Gaze Press. Vicky is an insatiable bookworm and enjoys reading about love, magic, found families and Happy Ever Afters. Dragons are always well-received, too.
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About Sacrifice (The Gods of Trivium #1)
Dragon gods rule the realm, demons lurk in the shadows, and a sorcerer hides a dangerous secret. A war is brewing in Jothesia, and the gods have no idea.
Being selected as human sacrifice to the immortal dragon shifters is supposedly an honor, but rebellious Libby doesn’t see it that way. When the sacrificial ritual goes badly wrong, she finds herself in a reluctant alliance with eldest god Rhetahn. He’s grumpy, cynical, and utterly exasperating …and she can’t get him out of her head.
Rhetahn knows there’s something wrong with this sacrifice, and it’s not just her infuriating stubbornness or the way she makes his jaded heart skip a beat. When terrible misfortune befalls his brothers and renders him powerless, his only choice is to unite with Libby to seek answers.
As they set out on a dangerous quest across the realm, the compelling attraction between them is undeniable, yet doomed. To recover his magic, regain his strength, and prevent the demons from seizing power, Rhetahn needs her blood. He must kill her at the end of their journey, even if it breaks his heart to do so.
But a terrible power lies hidden in Jothesia, one that could destroy everything the gods have built. Libby and Rhetahn’s forbidden relationship may be the realm’s only hope against utter ruin.