Thursday, February 9, 2017

Review: An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows

An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows
Series: The Manifold Worlds #1
Genre: Fantasy/LGBT+
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When Saffron Coulter stumbles through a hole in reality, she finds herself trapped in Kena, a magical realm on the brink of civil war.

There, her fate becomes intertwined with that of three very different women: Zech, the fast-thinking acolyte of a cunning, powerful exile; Viya, the spoiled, runaway consort of the empire-building ruler, Vex Leoden; and Gwen, an Earth-born worldwalker whose greatest regret is putting Leoden on the throne. But Leoden has allies, too, chief among them the Vex’Mara Kadeja, a dangerous ex-priestess who shares his dreams of conquest.

Pursued by Leoden and aided by the Shavaktiin, a secretive order of storytellers and mystics, the rebels flee to Veksh, a neighboring matriarchy ruled by the fearsome Council of Queens. Saffron is out of her world and out of her depth, but the further she travels, the more she finds herself bound to her friends with ties of blood and magic.

Can one girl – an accidental worldwalker – really be the key to saving Kena? Or will she just die trying?

Life isn't a story, no matter what the Shavaktiin say. There's no neat beginnings, no happy endings, because everything always keeps on going.

This book can't be real. I think I must've hallucinated it. I mean, it's the only possible explanation. I picked it up, just planning on flipping through it, read a bit of the first page, maybe something further on, try to convince myself to read it because I'd been having a terrible time getting involved in any story that wasn't a romance because I was having the attention span of a gerbil. (And at least romances move.)

Instead, within the first two pages, I was hooked.

Right from the start there is a super strong feminist vibe running through it, a main woman that has to deal with the boys at her school bullying and assaulting her - but she is still a super strong, brave girl that she is just a wonder to read about.

And can I, for just a moment, gush about the inclusiveness in this book? One of the kingdoms marriage is pretty much polyamorus, with any children being raised communally by the partners. (And another kingdom that doesn't really buy into the idea of marriage. At all.)

We have a main character that is aromantic and involved in a poly marriage with another woman and a man; another main character that is bisexual and we have a transsexual character.

There is also a whole boatload of racial diversity with the white characters actually being called white - so there's no 'default race' going on. And nearly every character of importance - and every POV character - is a woman!

Beyond the awesome representation, there is a spectacular story here. I'm not the biggest fan of portal fantasy, but this book worked wonderfully for me. And, in truth, didn't really feel like a portal fantasy.

The plot is the typical ruler that needs to be deposed, but it's the world building and the characters that this book totally excels at. We see two kingdoms, very different in their beliefs and worldviews and it's a lot of fun.

I adored pretty much every single character. They all have brilliant, vibrant personalities, and they are so well-developed. I do, of course, have a few favorites, and I seriously cannot wait to see how things turn out for them in the next book.

On a final note, I would not personally call this book a young adult story, but I think there would be a lot of crossover appeal as the person I consider our 'main' character is sixteen and a lot of her story is about getting used to a different world, being away from her family and such.