Title: This Golden Flame
Author: Emily Victoria
Genre: young adult, science fiction, LGBTQ+
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Page Count: 384
Rating: 2/5 stars
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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 brother…and the secret that’s held her country in its power for centuries.
No one more than me is disappointed by this rating. This was one of my highly anticipated reads this month. I was desperate for a book that featured an ace character, and this one was ace and aro. As someone who is ace, I am always excited for books that have that type of rep. But overall, unfortunately, this book did not work for me on many levels. This review will be a bit briefer than I would like because in the end I did not have a whole lot to say about this book.
I will add, as many of you know, I am not a huge sci-fi fan. It takes a lot for me to like sci-fi, and this book was touted not so much sci-fi but adventure. I still got a lot of sci-fi aspects; but I didn’t feel it fit the adventure aspect too much.
The plot was mediocre. From the very beginning I struggled to get into the plot. In fact this book would have probably worked better as a series or benefitted from more world building. It felt lackluster on all fronts. And parts of it dragged out. I get it was supposed to be relevant to the plot, but I felt like nothing happened at all in this book. I know I skimmed parts and still knew what was going on in the book. I want a good and well formed plot and I just felt that this book did not give me that. Karis and Alix were supposed to be bringing down the head guy, evil incarnate, and it just did not work. I’m not sure why. Pirates do not make an adventure on their own.
Part of the issue was definitely the pacing. The pacing was just…what? Honestly I get getting bored while reading. The pace was slow. But slow with nothing happened. Honestly, if I hadn’t wanted to like this book so much this would have likely been a DNF for me. In fact it practically is since I skipped around hoping to see the pace pick up: it does not. This is really unfortunate overall.
I didn’t connect with the characters. They felt flat to me. I didn’t really find them compelling. And I wanted to relate to Karis. But I just couldn’t. Neither her nor Alix whose POVs we had did I relate to. I will commend the author for, as I said, including ace and aro rep. I think that was the most interesting aspect of the book. I can barely remember any of the characters, they all just kind of…meshed.
There was no romance to be had which was a nice change, and I wish the book worked because we need more teen/YA books with no romance for those who aren’t into romance or don’t always want to read it. So I think that was well done. Not once do we really see romance. We see lots of friendships which is good. Unfortunately as I said previously I felt everything was underbaked.
I will say the writing was good. Victoria is a good writer, and I didn’t think the writing felt childish, but it felt easy to read, although the slow paced did mess with my head in regards to that. While the writing was good, I felt the dialogue lacked and that just ties in with the overarching issues I had with this book.
Suffice to say, I really wanted to like this book and it just did not work for me in any way, shape or form. Which happens. Not every book is going to be perfect. That’s why I gave this book two stars, for the writing and the rep that it included.
I hope that others enjoy this book far more than I did!