Review: The Firebird’s Tale by Anya Ow

31923190The Firebird’s Tale begins with the end of a familiar story: a Prince who never smiled, and by Imperial decree, has to marry the one who managed to make him do so.

Except that it was all an accident, and the Prince would say he didn’t actually smile at the thief who dared to rob a Tsar, and the thief was not even a woman—or, as it turns out, even human.

I wasn’t expecting much from The Firebird’s Tale for one single reason: I had never heard of it before when I found it browsing through NetGalley. I requested it on a whim, but I’m happy to say I don’t regret it one bit.

The Firebird’s Tale has everything I love in a fantasy book that has romance as one of its driving forces: good characters, good writing, original worldbuilding, an engaging plot plot and a relationship that makes sense. I loved both Aleksei (the prince) and Nazar (the thief) though they could’ve been flashed out more, and even though I’d have liked it better if their relationship took more time to develop I still loved it.

Weird, right? Usually romance is either hated it because it’s instalove or loved it because it’s slow burn/makes sense for me, but here in The Firebird’s Tale the author managed to convince me of Aleksei and Nazar’s love in a very short amount of time. Or pages.

The story does take some time to get going, but honestly, it didn’t bother me in the least. I do love slow paced books, so there is that, but it probably happened because I enjoyed the writing a lot and loved the worldbuilding (it’s inspired by Russian & Germanic folklore if I’m not mistaken) so even the more slow, almost-nothing-is-happening moments were interesting to me. The end comes with a bang, though, which only makes everything better.

And I felt so bad for Aleksei in the last chapters of the book. So bad. I thought for a moment that the book would have a sad ending, but I’m glad it didn’t. The characters were so charismatic I couldn’t help but feel for them, and a sad ending would have hit me hard.

My only complaint is that The Firebird’s Tale seems to be a standalone – I would love for it to a series because there is SO much potential. Both on the romance side of things and on the fantasy side. Honestly, I’d kill to know what’s going to happen in The Firebird’s Tale‘s world after what happened in the last chapters. 4.0 stars.

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