Reviews for Lava Red Feather Blue, by Molly Ringle
The plot was interesting - reverse sleeping beauty with a Prince being put into magical sleep to imprison a bad faerie intent on destroying the human world. I really like the idea of Larkin and Merrick running off to save the day. They were good characters - but a little annoying. My favourite character was Nye and he was barely in it.
I just found it really hard to connect with the story and the characters. The pacing was slow to me and I struggled to pick it up - I read 4 other books in between. I managed to finish reading it, which is why it’s 2.5 stars but it just wasn’t for me.
alyxinthestars's review against another edition
- Strong character development? Yes
- Loveable characters? Yes
- Diverse cast of characters? Yes
- Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated
I was given a free copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Minor: Blood, Death, and Violence
vivaldi's review against another edition
I discovered Lava Red Feather Blue, thanks to a friend of mine who read the ARC sometime last year. So I decided to look up the book page and lo and behold, the aesthetic cover and the premise caught my attention - so that prompted me to pre-order a copy. I'm still waiting for my pre-ordered copy to arrive but I quit waiting and decided to read the whole thing on my iPad because this is amongst the half a dozen highly anticipated releases that I just want to get around reading ASAP. I want to say that I still prefer reading fantasy novels physically, but somehow my iPad experience with Lava Red Feather Blue was a highly positive one.
Lava Red Feather Blue is an enchanting fae & witch novel with a very cool concept and a diverse cast of characters. This is a character-driven tale revolving around Merrick (a witch) and Larkin (a fae woken up from more than 2 hundred years of sleep), but the story isn't only centred on the superb & slow-burning LGBT+ relationship. This is also a tale about sacrifice, belongings, and fighting for the greater cause. From Merrick's unlikely alliance with Larkin, Ringle splendidly illustrated both characters' internal struggles. The well fleshed out pair also made me feel their losses more acutely. I rarely get emotional over reading books so you know it's a good sign when the characters resonate with me so much. Similarly, I found the supporting characters quite eccentric and yet likable. Therefore, I found the character development to be one of the greatest assets in the book.
Conceptually, Lava Red Feather Blue goes big and bold. I feel like I'm transported into a magical and colourful world of Eidolonia while reading this (also kudos to the diverse source of inspiration of the worldbuilding, I found the magic system so fascinating). It's an immersive experience, thanks to Ringle's solid worldbuilding and unique concept. I love the diversity of the supernatural characters in the novel. I was not bored in any single minute of reading the novel.
Thematically, Molly Ringle also managed to pack plenty of political tension between the humans & fairies, making this a very hard to put down read. I'm still processing over the central themes of the novel, but this political tension & Ula Kana's uprise felt surprisingly reminiscent to the current political atmosphere as of lately. It sheds some insights on how partisanships are based on manipulations & sentiments, instead of fairness and transparency. The implication of Ula Kana's role in the novel created plenty of opportunity for Ringle to explore various big themes through the character developments.
While there are a lot of good things to say about Lava Red Feather Blue, there are a few minor drawbacks to address. Personally, the pacing of the book was on the slow side in the beginning which means the first 50 or so pages required a bit of pushing through. This isn't a major issue because Ringle managed to use a good portion of the beginning to establish the expansive worldbuilding and the magic system. So regarding the writing style, there are quite some details & a bit of info-dumping (this is overall quite a dense read), but they do make a lot of sense as the novel progresses. It's just something to be aware of if you are used to reading books where things happen straight from the beginning. And I think this is just my personal take, but I would love to see more of the support characters because of the intricate worldbuilding and concept.
Overall, I love reading Lava Red Feather Blue and I had a satisfying experience with it after years of not coming across a decent fae-inspired read. I'm now eagerly waiting for my hardcopy to arrive because I'm obsessed with the cover and I need a good fairy book to represent my physical bookshelf!
The writing was good and comfortable for me. I found it adequately descriptive, though I could have used a bit more world-building and physical character descriptions. This was particularly true for me with regard to the fae world. However, I did very much appreciate the inclusion of different species and their customs. Also of note was the attention to modern conveniences as experienced by Larkin, who had been in a magically-induced sleep for over 200 years. The address of his exposure to technology was both realistically and humorously handled.
The relationship between Larkin and Merrick is cute and fun. It is a bit instalove-y in the fact that it is fairly predictable, but the progression of the relationship is well-handled and interesting. Their interactions gave me a few good laughs along with some warm fuzzies. Their banter was particularly fantastic.
In fact, the majority of the characters and their interactions were great, with Merrick and Larkin being particularly well fleshed out. The only characters that felt extraneous to me were Merrick's sibling and niece, who provided a relationship for Merrick, but not much else. They did not appear to serve the plot in much of a substantial way and could have been utilized more. This also may have helped to expand the importance of Merrick's involvement in the perfumery. I found the occupation interesting, but there wasn't a lot of exposition explaining what he did or showing how they did it. It would have been a fun inclusion for me.
The author handled diversity and LGBT+ representation wonderfully. Unlike a lot of novels with rep, diverse sexuality does not take center stage in a way that works as a plot device, it simply exists as a matter of course. This was pleasantly refreshing and I appreciated the lack of a heavy hand.
Though I enjoyed the world and would definitely be keen on exploring it more, this novel is a standalone and it does well as one. The plot is constructed nicely and the pacing is great. There is enough action to sustain the narrative from beginning to end. The ending is good and wraps up nicely. I will admit that there is some convenience factor in the final pieces of exposition, but it was fun to read and had a very satisfying resolution. Definitely recommend, especially for readers of light fantasy or those who wish to introduce themselves to fantasy.
* Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. *
shadesofwind's review against another edition
The concept of an adult take on a queer Fae story set around a quest into the dangerous magical land seemed to me more than thrilling.
The passionate and a little careless Merrick has mostly good intentions when he accidently wakes up Larkin, a prince who was lay to enchanted sleep two hundred years before, in order to secure a truce between people and Fae living on Eidolonia. But the prince isn't the only one that awakens. Ula Kana, a powerful Fae who's set to destroy the humans that she believes are a threat to the magical inhabitans of the island, comes back as well, full of rage and ready to set everything in her path on fire. As it turns out, the only way to save the island might be a dangerous journey to the heart of the Fae realm.
Both Merrick and Larkin were really enjoyable leads, and it didn't take long for me to grow fond of them. They're motivated and lost, adorable and stubborn, humanly flawed - which we know should be obvious, but let's be honest - authors happen to fail at that sometimes. Rooting for the protagonists definitely helped me enjoy the story, and I like how there was no chosen ones or super extraordinary abilities they would posess. The chemistry between characters appeared quickly, but without cliche insta-lovey scenes - their interactions had a realistic edge of awkwardness to them, as well as maturity, and, for the most time, lacked overly dramatic parts. A truly lovely romance to follow and cheer for.
The fae world was creatively set up - I particularly appreciate the fae taking differing forms for a change (aka not only ubergorgeous human-like creatures that are so popular right now). I wished their realm was painted more vividly though - supposedly it was such a beautiful image, but I had difficulty conjuring it in my mind.
The writing style was far too simple. You're very much aware of every instance the author is Introducing Information™, because it either appears in a form of awkward descriptions or artificial dialogue. It wouldn't make much difference if there had been a "We're doing the worldbuliding now" sign there.
To be fair the entire story dragged at times - it could do with a bunch of edits. Some parts were redundant, and there was so much telling instead of showing. I mean like, truly. It was so long-winded it often completely killed the suspense, focusing instead on characters explaining their actions or feelings in great detail. Or telling the reader what and why EXACTLY is happening - which led me to skim several times, as I just wanted to go on with the plot.
The entire ending was but a summary of recent events, boring and forced, as if the author really wanted us to now how each storyline ended, but didn't feel like actually writing it.
Despite the high stakes the story failed to keep me concerned - at some point it became rather obvious that whatever obstacle the characters came across, some magical help or solution would soon appear.
"Go to point A, villain appears, they barely manage to escape (likely with some deus ex machina help or other equally bizarre thing), they reach A and they have to do X. "
And, you see - I am sentimental, childish at times. I love hope and appealing to higher values and light-hearted stories. But the power of love and a speeches defending the dark forces is not something I can take seriously in an adult fantasy. And that's probably my biggest issue with the book - I could ignore the lacking worldbuilding, and the writing style, and simply have fun with the plot. But adventure needs to keep you on the edge of your seat, and not make you roll your eyes.
Honestly, of it wasn't for the sex, this would have felt like a MG. Which in itself wouldn't be bad, but you do except more than helpful magical animals appearing just in time for rescue from an adult novel. Instead it feels like an "epic" Hollywood fantasy movie.
Oh, the villain! I would have forgot. Which, honestly, is rather telling. Ula Kana was straight up a cardboard character - a Disney villain, one could say, except they have cool songs and actual motif, so pick some worse kind of children movies instead. I think I just accepted that at some point, and started treating her like a inanimate obstacle rather than antagonist. She's just Evil™, if you know what I mean.
Overall, the truly well rounded characters, the banter, and an engaging plot held potential for a far better final effect. It wasn't a bad story, rather an unpolished one - with some work on the writing style and perhaps the design of the plot the author could create a book that's really awesome. I hope her future stories will live up to the potential.
I felt like I should have lowered the rating more, and yet I don't really want to - I did have fun, and I'm genuinely curious for how the author develops in the future.
(Also beware that it's a romance, after all. So traditionally - the world is falling apart, but a make out session won't hurt anyone, huh? ^^
i didn't mind, but it's something you should be aware of going into it )
This story is basically an adult, queer, sleeping beauty set on a magical island in the pacific ocean.
The island of Eidolonia is set in the real world but because of magic it scrambles satellites and boats are often pushed off course so it hasn't been discovered by the world.
I really liked this idea because the pacific is so vast that there very easily could be an island out there with magical beings on it. (In my head anyway)
Around 300 years prior, the fae agreed to let humans stay on the island, they could marry whoever they wanted and go by whatever gender they wanted. The humans on the island also began to develop magical powers of their own from the proximity of the fae.
After a while there was a war between fae and humans, and to gain peace, Prince Larkin was sacrificed and put into a permanent magical slumber.
We theb travel to 2020 where we meet Merrick, a descendant of the witch who put Larkin under the spell and who doesn't really know what he's doing with his life. And after finding some of his ancestors magical trinkets he accidentally wakes Prince Larkin up.
However this also means he awakens the fearsome Ula Kana, a fae set on destroying the humans.
Larkin and Merrick form and unlikely friendship, challenge the corrupt government and then head out on a quest to the fae realm to try and save the island.
There is dual POVs in this book but I have to admit they weren't quite different enough because I often couldn't tell who was speaking.
It's a gritty, self sacrificing and realistic fantasy tale with a unique set up.
Merrick's family and friends were brilliant and the romance was a wonderful slow burn. However it definitely has a bittersweet ending which I found a bit depressing. Maybe because it was a bit too realistic I'm not sure.
That being said I still really enjoyed it and will most likely read it again!
The book has queer rep, non binary rep and deals with trauma, ptsd, depression and more.
CW: death, ptsd, depression
Moderate: Blood, Grief, and Mental illness
alissasbooktopia's review against another edition
this book gives such a good twist on sleeping beauty and i'm here for it! i love that the story only begins when the prince wakes up, like...that's so much better? either way, this book gave me a lot of feelings (yes i cried, what about it?) and then you have the characters and the dialogue and the romance and—i'm screaming.
full review on my blog.