This Golden Flame
- Author: Emily Victoria
- Genre: YA Fantasy
- Publication Date: February 2, 2021
- Publisher: Inkyard Press
CONTENT WARNING: violence, grief
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 bother…and the secret that’s held her country in its power for centuries.
This is one of those book that caught my attention because the cover was just so pretty, and then I checked out the blurb which sounded intriguing. It’s also one of those rare YA fantasy books that’s a standalone.
But once I started reading, I quickly got pulled into this story that’s based in a world with a Greco-Roman setting. We’re introduced to Karis, who is an unwilling slave at the Scriptorium, but has always rebelled. She’s taught herself as much as she could about runes, which are the key to unlocking automatons, but no one has been able to do so thus far. Until she falls, and discovers a hidden cave on the island one day. She goes back and checks it out, and unlocks an automaton that no one knew about. But what she didn’t expect is that this automaton is unlike any of the others—he’s got a consciousness and a personality.
While Karis is focused on finding her brother, Alix is more of an unknown. He has blank spots in his memory, and wants to find out more about what actually happened, and why his father is now viewed as a traitor to the nation and why he tried to destroy the automatons. The two of them team up and decide to work together. I loved seeing how the two of them connect with each other and form a bond.
“I felt as soon as I woke up for the first time that I knew my father. He was always open with me. Karis, though…I keep discovering sides to her that I don’t quite expect. Both of us have lost and are lost.”
They’re aided in their journey by Karis’s only friend, Dane, who was pressed into service as a soldier for the Scriptorium. But their adventures take them to some unexpected places and reveal some unexpected truths about their world.
I think one of my favorite parts of this book is the gender and sexual identity representation in the story. Karis is asexual, and this means that there’s no romance that is central to the story. Fortunately this also means that we get to focus on the story itself, rather than pining or a love triangle. There’s a non-binary side character and two gay side characters, but their romance doesn’t overshadow the main plot, instead adding an additional depth to it.
Overall, this is an immersive and fast-paced fantasy novel that kept me engaged from start to finish. I was pulled in immediately, and was terribly sad to say goodbye to these characters who stole my heart, although I enjoyed every moment of the story. The author builds a vivid and comprehensive world with beautifully developed characters, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of her work.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 10
Categories: Book Review
Gender and sexual identity was also one of my favorites from this one! I really liked how Emily Victoria explored Karis’s identity, though personally I felt like the book was missing something (maybe it’s because I’m so used to fantasy books that are in a series). I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this one though! I’m also looking forward the author’s future works; I think one is coming out soon actually!
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I especially liked how it was discussed but wasn’t like the main theme of the story, although I do wish there were more books in this world. And a new book is exciting!