Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Title: Even the Darkest Stars (Even the Darkest Stars #1)
Author: Heather Fawcett
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Set in a fictional Himalayan kingdom, this is the story of a girl enlisted by a legendary explorer to help him climb the kingdom’s deadliest mountain – only to discover that his true mission may threaten her whole world.

Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.

But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer every known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister, Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means cimbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then, Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.

The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and other dangers at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth about their mission and her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.

Even the Darkest Stars takes a challenge like climbing Mount Everest and combines it with magic and mystery. I really enjoyed the story and loved the difference of the characters.

I really liked Kamzin because she is not a perfect person. She has always had to live in others shadows, forced into training for something she isn’t even good at. She is in a way resentful that she isn’t allowed to do what she dreams of doing and feels like she needs to prove herself. When her sister is chosen for the great explorer River Shara’s expedition to the hardly charted Raksha Mountain. Kamzin is angry and is determined to change his mind. She can at times seems selfish and self-centered. Arrogant in her belief of her own ability at times. Kamzin though is also caring and bright. Her love of Tem is one of her shining qualities.

River is a mystery. He seems to be there one minute and a ghost the next. You can never truly grasp him and I feel like Kamzin feels the same way. Yet he challenges her and that attracts her to him. She is stifled her village where River gives her the world. Just even in simple ways. It was interesting to see him develop in the influence of Kamzin.

Tem is her loyal friend. Not quite brother/sister not quite lovers. They live in between. This journey also allows Tem to really shine. He’s so thoughtful and caring. He is also smart and observant. He looks beyond where Kamzin can’t always see. She focuses on the now without consequences. Tem sees the whole picture.

The other three characters that embark on the journey with them are interesting but I didn’t feel myself invested in them. Not to say other people won’t. I just didn’t.

Of course there is also Lusha. I think we spend our most time with her as a ghost of Kamzin’s memories. Although Lusha is present, I think most our perspective comes from Kamzin.

I loved the journey our travelers embark upon. With all it’s twist and turns, mysteries and horrors. I also really liked the ending, even though I felt it left me a little broken and bruised. I can not wait to read the next book. It was one of those mixes of those cliff-hangers not cliffhanger. It might have wrapped up things with this adventure but it leaves you wondering what will come next and how will Kamzin handle it.

I continue to ponder this book. Even though it’s been a week since I’ve read it. I really liked how it has me continuing thinking about the ending and the possibilities. I’m so excited for the next book.

I was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, where I enjoy wandering around in the wilder-ness and only occasionally getting lost. I’ve also spent extended periods of time in Italy, where I learned very little Italian but ate quite a lot of pizza, and Ireland, where I searched half-successfully for puffins and selkies.

Before becoming a writer I worked, among other things, as an archaeologist, a technical writer, and a backstage assistant for a Shakespearean theatre company (which I could write several novels about). I have a Master’s degree in English Literature and briefly considered becoming a professor, before I realized it involved more than reading books, drinking ex-cessive amounts of tea, and wearing colourful elbow patches.

I’m represented by the amazing Brianne Johnson at Writers House. EVEN THE DARKEST STARS, my first novel, was purchased by HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray at auction in a six-figure, two-book deal.

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