Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother's Time, My Mother's Time, and Mine by Emily Bernard {review}
American Fairytale (Dreamers #2) by Adriana Herrera {review}

A Spark Of White Fire (The Celestial Trilogy #1) by Sangu Mandanna {review}

A Spark Of White Fire

Genre: Science Fiction/Space Opera


My Review - 5 Stars

I owe Aarya a debt because her enthusiasm over this book is the reason I read it. It wasn’t previously on my radar—for shame!—and it absolutely blew me away.

This is a Mahabharata-inspired space opera and maybe you’re not entirely sure what that combination of words means but trust me: you need this book in your life. I wasn’t familiar with the Hindu myth beforehand and I did fine but I definitely want to read the source material now to know how it compares. (I encourage you to read Aarya’s review for more particulars about the myth and how it compares to this story.) 

There were so many good twists, right from the beginning. I loved how the story developed. I knew very little going in and I think the book is best experienced that way.

But what you should know is Esmae has all kinds of complicated family dynamics and that’s before she sneaks into a competition and ends up winning, thus enabling her to return home to Kali for the first time since she was a baby. She’s such a great heroine and I loved seeing how her expectations didn’t always match reality and the way this changed things for her. I didn’t entirely understand why Esmae still wanted to see her mother and I had a bad feeling about her allegiance to Alexi. And not just because I was rooting for his cousin Max the whole time.

But Max was pretty wonderful, even if he’d been misunderstood his whole life. (Hello, catnip.) His parents the king and queen adopted him and he feels like he’s not the kind of son they wanted. Except he is a fantastic strategist, level-headed, and all around great and it broke my heart to see the way they reminded him he was not related by blood. (Heads up for those in the adoptive community that some of the language and treatment of adoption may be triggering.)

Besides Max and Esmae, I also loved Titania, the sentient warship. I loved that she wasn’t bloodthirsty despite being a warship. Every scene with Titania was top-notch and had such great humor. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonderful inclusion of gods and goddesses and how this mythology is woven through the story.

King Elvar’s complexities were so richly developed. He is in part kind but thoughtlessly dismissive of his adopted son. Plus the whole stealing the throne from his teen nephew thing! He’s blind, which is why he was overlooked for the throne previously, but he’s proven he can rule. And yet we see his weaknesses as well, such as his misplaced faith in Lord Selwyn. It was interesting/concerning that his wife becomes blind herself out of some sort of misguided solidarity with her husband. They were such different rulers because of Elvar’s disability but more so because of his anxiety and paranoia.

The ending sets up some major things for the next book. Esmae’s rage gave me so much life. I’m also hoping Lord Selwyn will get the comeuppance he deserves. There’s going to be a big shift in Esmae’s family dynamics and I cannot wait to see what happens.

CW: toxic family members, abandonment, violence, betrayal, grief, adoption



In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back. 

Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali. 

It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart. 

Inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories, A Spark of White Fire is a lush, sweeping space opera about family, curses, and the endless battle between jealousy and love.


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