Red Queen meets The Scorpio Races in a high-flying new fantasy series filled with passion, betrayal, and adventure from debut author Shina Reynolds.
Seventeen-year-old Aluma Banks has always dreamed of soaring freely through the skies astride a powerful winged steed of her own. But flying is a privilege granted only to the Riders of the king’s Empyrean Cavalry, the aerial warriors who defend the borders of their land from the fallen Kingdom of Laithlann.
Each year, Rider hopefuls across Eirelannia compete in the Autumn Tournament for the honor of joining the Cavalry. Aluma, trained to ride and fight by her retired Empyrean Rider father, knows she has what it takes to prove herself worthy—if only her father hadn’t forbidden her from joining their ranks, in the hope of protecting his only daughter from the perils of war. To make matters worse, Thayer, Aluma’s best friend who could be becoming something more, is competing—and if he wins, he’ll leave her behind.
When Aluma’s father is tragically injured just before the Tournament, she finds herself unexpectedly thrust into this year’s competition. But as Aluma begins to pursue her dreams, she learns devastating secrets about the king and his never-ending war with Laithlann. In her quest for the truth, Aluma discovers a power deep within herself that may be the only way to save Eirelannia and the people she loves from the darkness that threatens to consume them all.
As Aluma takes the reins, Reynolds conjures a high fantasy journey with plenty of romance, danger, and intrigue that’s sure to delight—think The Hunger Games meets fantasy favorites but with an equestrian twist. Though it at times relies heavily on tropes common to the genre, such as love triangles and chosen-one arcs, any fan of those stories should find something to love in this blend of the epic and the dystopian. Eirelannia is a kingdom where nothing is as it seems, and readers will be hooked right along with Aluma as she uncovers the truth about the non stop war between her homeland and Laithlann.
Reynolds offers intriguing world building, richly drawn characters, and convincing details, like the distinctions between how different groups treat the winged Empyrean steeds, for example. Both accessible and engaging, A Light in the Sky is well-suited for younger YA audiences, while older readers may find some plot points predictable despite the age of its protagonist. Still, this first entry in Reynolds’s Clashing Skies series offers non-stop adventure for readers who ever wished for a flying steed of their own.
Takeaway: Younger fans of high fantasy adventure won’t be able to put down this novel boasting high-flying equestrian action.
Great for fans of: Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, Victoria Aveyard’s The Red Queen series.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B