This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria is a beautiful fantasy about automations, choices, and friendship. In This Golden Flame, we follow Karis and Alix as they discover their purpose.
Karis and her brother Matthias were taken to the Scriptorium as children after being caught stealing. The Scriptorium sent her brother away, and Karis has been spending all of these years trying to find where they sent him. She has a childhood best friend Dante, who has become a Scriptorium soldier. Karis can’t seem to catch a break until she finds a cave with an ancient automation (think, robots but magical), and wakes it.
Alix is an automation with body autonomy and consciousness, who is missing some memories. Alix, Karis, and Dante set off to find her brother, and find out just why Alix was made.
This story has pirates, representation, automations with body autonomy, evil leaders, and hidden history galore!
The representation in this book was beautifully done. Firstly, we have an asexual/aromantic main character which I think we don’t see enough of. Then, we have a nonbinary side character and a gay relationship as a cherry on top. These things just simply are and are not thoroughly dissected. Our pirate captain Zara had my heart from the moment she came into play. She got the character development and back story fitting for a side character. Often times, characters are introduced but we don’t get much information on them aside from their existence. This did not seem to be the case for any of the characters introduced. Alix and Karis’s relationship made me nervous at first because I was afraid there would be this “aha” moment in which Karis announces she is no longer aro/ace, but that never happened. I found that really satisfying in of itself.
The world-building in the book was subtle enough that you were able to understand what the world was and how it worked without a long explanation of either. Sometimes, fantasy books have to slow their pacing down in order to explain the world, but in Victoria’s This Golden Flame, it isn’t necessary.
“And if I’m doing this, I’m going all in. If we flame out, we’ll burn like stars.”
I found the process of our main characters learning to choose for themselves really intriguing. This book made me emotional in ways I can’t even begin to explain. Because of this, it held my heart in the last bit of it, I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing. While it’s a pretty classically done fantasy story (evil leader with historical secrets, a girl who escapes some kind of prison-like situation) it was done in such a new way that it took me by surprise. I highly recommend this book for fans of Crier’s War.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Inkyard Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.