#Review: Girl With Three Eyes by Priya Ardis #Fantasy #YAFantasy

Today I am thrilled to be sharing a long overdue review for the amazing fantasy series starter Girl With Three Eyes by Priya Ardis. This fun YA romp had just about everything I could ask for when your looking for a literary pick-me-up: a strong protagonist with some serious emotional wounds, a sweet n’ awkward love interest, a house-based school system, high stakes intrigue, deep friendships, a thrilling new school sport that’s a delightful cross between between boardercross and jousting, and more than few characters that you’ll love to hate.

All together… Chef’s kiss.

threeTitle: Girl with Three Eyes

Author: Priya Ardis

Publisher: Vulcan Ink

Publication Date: August 31, 2020

Genre: YA Fiction, YA Fantasy, Fantasy

Themes: Found Family, Espionage, Betrayal, Friendship, School Sports, Teen Romance

Features: N/A


She would hate her third eye less if it actually gave her special powers.

Sixteen-year-old Kira puts on a show about having empathic abilities, but she miraculously wakes a highborn boy from a coma after a near-fatal accident on mountainous slopes. When his father threatens to expose her “magic” to the queen, she attends the kingdom’s most elite academy as a bodyguard.

Soon, she’s immersed in a strange new life—one of being a simple student trying out for the school’s skyboarding team. Her fake life becomes the life she’s always wanted, but Kira cannot escape who she truly is. Nothing in the court of the Raj is as it seems…

Will she risk her freedom to unmask a killer before the crown falls?

Girl with Three Eyes is a young adult fantasy series. If you like strong female protagonists, futuristic fairy tales, and epic tournaments, you’ll love this blend of Hindu lore and political intrigue in Priya Ardis’s academy fairy tale.

Purchase Links:

USA: https://amzn.to/3jagFhB

UK: https://amzn.to/3cBEQDt

Canada: https://amzn.to/3i1Fv20

My Review

It’s pretty clear that Kira Shine is the chosen one from the opening pages – we know that she’s low-born, a talented athlete, in possession of magical abilities, and that she has to hide her physical differences from others in order to avoid censure. Then along comes an event that changes everything and BAM! It’s suddenly her job to Do The Thing™ and Save The People™ and this book if off the the races.

I fell in love with Kira’s voice in the first few pages as it is both young and believable. Her sayings and internalization are sheltered and more than a little naive – especially when it comes to romance – and this lead to a lot of laughs in those relatable ‘I’ve been there’ moments. She’s awkward, inexperienced in forming friendships and romantic relationships, but still wants to be part of that world. In short, Kira embodies your average young lady trying to fit into a new setting and navigating some darned confusing emotions for the very first time.

However, Kira’s inexperience in social settings is balanced out by a cast of characters who were raised in the high-class, high-stakes setting of the court and the Raj Royal School. You have Sarita, the loveable general’s daughters; Trace, the caustic but potentially loveable rich boy; and Ajay, the gorgeous love interest who just so happens to be a prince. They’re all bound together through their involvement with the school’s skyboarding team, and ultimately Kira’s investigation into a string of assassination attempts. Together they make a balanced and dynamic group of teens, and I can’t wait to see how they change and develop as the series progresses.

But, if the characters doesn’t draw you in, Ardis’s writing is sure to do the trick. Her style light, imaginative and incredibly fast paced. The world building is both unique and gradual, painting the picture of a fragile empire laced through futuristic technology and myth-like magic. There are unique geographical regions, a defined class society, and the seeds of social revolution shaking the foundations of life as the characters know it. And then there’s the matter of the investigative arc, with high stakes and dire consequences, carefully threaded throughout Kira’s personal journey. There’s an abundance of subtle clues and details that will allow for invested or seasoned readers to predict the ending, but no so many as to give all the twists away. I genuinely can’t wait for the next book to be released!

Finally, there’s a lot of YA Fantasy out there that should really be classed as NA or adult – and believe me, I devour it with my whole heart – but Girl With Three Eyes is well and truly a YA book and this fills my heart with joy. The characters in it are in the 13-16 range and the embody the maelstrom of contradictions that come with that age. They are awkward and emotional, keep secrets and make impulsive decisions, and regularly blow inconsequential events out of proportion. But then on the next page they make intelligent and rational decisions, experience deep emotions and empathy, and navigate some very adult problems with an enviable and single-minded focus. In short, they are teenagers. And I’ll be damned because they actually act like it.

The result is that this book is an inviting bridge between the world of MG and YA fantasy. It’s chalk full of the tropes that are beloved in the genre – it has a chosen one, an orphan falling in love with a prince, a house based school, complex and magical sports, an outsider protagonist with an impossible task, dramatically dysfunctional families, and more. Some might say that these tropes are over-used, but honestly, we keep reading them for a reason! They’re relatable, there’s an infinite number of ways in which an author can make them new and fresh (hence my love of this book!), and the fact that most readers enjoy a touch of the familiar when they delve into new and magical worlds. Having these tropes presented in a setting that is free from the adult responsibilities found in the later age ranges for YA helps to build knowledge without being overwhelming, and it’s exactly the kind of book I would recommend for Junior High and High School Libraries.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review, and my deepest apologies for not reviewing the ARC prior to publication. 2020 has been a bitch.

#BlogTour #Review: The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart @Tr4cyF3nt0n @OrbitBooks @AndreaGStewart

There are few things in this world that I enjoy more than a hot cup of tea and good book, one of them is a book so good that I completely forget about the tea…

Reader, let me present to you one of those books: The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart, killer of the cuppa, and one heck of a captivating read. If you like imaginative epic fantasy, multiple POVs with distinct perspectives and voices, and highly structured magic systems then this might just be the book for you.

Title: Bone Shard Daughter

Series: The Drowning Empire

Author:  Andrea Stewart

Publisher: Orbit

Publication Date: September 8, 2020

Genre: Fantasy, Adult Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Features: N/A


In an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne. The Bone Shard Daughter marks the debut of a major new voice in epic fantasy.

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.

My Review

This story is told through three different POVs, with each character occupying a different space in a highly stratified society – Lin is the Emperor’s daughter, and while she struggles against her father’s control and the secrets that he keeps she still occupies a position of immense privilege and must eventually come to terms with the inevitable consequences of her actions; Phalue is a governor’s daughter born to a comfortable life, but through her relationship to commoner and rebel she is able to reflect on the systems on oppression from which she has benefited and wield her privilege in a way that betters the lives of others; and finally, Jovis is smuggler who has always been having just enough so long as he had his love at his side, but when she goes missing his life falls into the hands of racketeering gang until a cataclysmic convergence of fate, chance, and a magical animal familiar set on him the path to becoming a people’s hero.

The three narratives, while balanced, aren’t presented in any systematic pattern or order and this fluidity of narrative allows for a natural ebb and flow to each character’s individual arc without ever easing up on the overall pacing of the book. For example, significant portions of Phalue’s character development take place while Jovis is away from the action at sea,  or how Lin’s quest to uncover her memories and her father’s secrets are interspersed throughout the silences of Phalue and Ranami’s lover’s quarrels. The stories run parallel to one another for much of the book as the foundations for the series are set, but once they start to intertwine the already impeccable storytelling steps up to a whole new level. The final battles are entirely engaging, bringing neat resolutions to many of arcs that drove the plot for this instalment, each character is treated to cliff-hangers and realizations that will keep readers anxiously awaiting more.

The world building is both comprehensive and unique, with a fully flushed out political structure operating on fumes and a tenuous balance between magical constructs and fallible humans. This is further complicated by a system of corrupt officials grown entitled and lazy as a result of their greed, and the beginnings of a civil uprising slowly burning it’s way from one island to the next. Layered atop the highly relatable political instability is an ancient history that is equal parts mythology and living magic, and I have no doubts that the seeds planted in this first instalment will continue to grown and amaze as the trilogy progresses.

The same level of detail and intricacy invested into building the Empire is also extended to the bone shard magic system. The methods in which different animal parts can be combined to create creatures to serve a specific purpose are endless, as are the commands that can be etched on the bone shards that power them. The language of the commands is complicated and difficult to learn, reminiscent of block-based coding or MySQL implemented in such a way as to control the actions of intelligent beings. This mixture of magic programming and self determination presents significant barriers for Lin to overcome as conflicting commands can lead to disastrous results, but when done right will provide her with the tools with which to control the Empire.

The immense power behind construct creation is balanced out by the fact the constructs are powered by threads of actual human life, and will eventually lead to the death of those whose shards are in use. This provides ample opportunity for the subtle critique of imperialism, capitalism, abuse of power, and class stratified societies. But it never feels like a lesson, rather these issues are presented from the views of of our three main characters who all occupy different places in society, and the reader is left to draw their own conclusions.

If you’re looking for Asian inspired fantasy that is neither derivative nor damagingly stereotypical, then I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It presents a tactful and deliberate blend of the tropes and features that readers have come to crave in fantasy and presents them in new and exciting ways with originality as the main course and not as a side. It features a full cast of unique and diverse characters, a fully developed on-page f/f romance complete with genuine conflict and growth, and the subtle undertones of scathing societal critique leveraged at our contemporary world.

This title is listed as Epic Fantasy, but I’d happily leave it at Epic. Period.

About The Author

Andrea Stewart is the Chinese American daughter of immigrants, and was raised in a number of places across the United States. When her (admittedly ambitious) dreams of becoming a dragon slayer didn’t pan out, she instead turned to writing books. She now lives in sunny California.

Purchase Links:

USA:  https://amzn.to/33HWrFq 

UK:  https://amzn.to/3hZaVGo

Canada: https://amzn.to/2FHIQq1

Many thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me to join this tour and providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.