A debut secondary-world fantasy charts the story of two peoples at war across a backdrop of mysticism, celestial power, and forbidden love.
Kai is a Moonburner, born with the ability to channel the energy of the moon and release it in spectacular ways. But her kingdom, where the Sunburners rule, prohibits this practice, and she lives in fear with her family. When her secret is exposed, Kai is sent to the desert to die. While struggling to survive, she finds her spiritual guide, or seishen, a talking silver fox named Quitsu with extraordinary skills. The fox can telepathically communicate with other seishens, walk through walls, become invisible, and see in the dark. They are eventually rescued by Pura, a Moonburner. Taken to the capital of the Moonburners, Kai learns to master her immense powers. But the Moonburner queen, Airi, looks on her subjects more as weapons and harbors dark designs for the Sunburners she captures. The queen’s mad quest for supremacy may be her citizens’ undoing, unless Kai makes a dangerous alliance. Hiro, handsome prince of the Sunburners, seems inclined to listen. But is the spark between them destined enmity or something more? In either case, it could easily consume them both. Is the risk worth the reward, and can two peoples be saved from a devastating war? If anyone can do it, Kai can. Kai is a well-drawn, resilient female lead, her compassion as much a source of her dominance as her Moonburning. While her romantic subplot with Hiro turns out to be unsurprising, it is nonetheless sweet. This is true of most relationships in the book, romantic or platonic. They are the strength of the narrative and help make up for an otherwise unexceptional, if serviceable, plot. Kai’s relationship with Quitsu becomes particularly endearing. The fox’s quips and personality add a great sense of mischief to the narrative. And the worldbuilding enjoys a few outright fantastic flourishes, such as the giant bats the Moonburners use as flying steeds.
A promising start to a fantasy series that delivers a superb sense of fun and strong female characters who are both heroes and villains.