Book Review: The Firebirds Tale by Anya Ow

The Firebirds Tale by Anya Ow 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.

The Firebirds Tale is set in a world based upon European and Eurasian folklore. I liked seeing well know, and lesser known, folklore pulled together and woven through the book. I also like that it is clear the author did her research and got Russian names and titles correct, which is not always the case. I found the sexual ambiguity and openness to be well done. It fed into the slow relationship building between Aleksei and Nazar, which made the story so sweet and left me wondering what the resolution might be until the very end. Watching the bond being forged, and fought, was very well done, but it is far from all the book is about. There are fairy tale retellings woven together to form a bigger picture. There is a good deal of commentary on politics and human nature as well, the desire for more, and to rule. The nature of war, and the destruction and pain it causes along side the drive some have for making it happen. Every now and then I did get a little overwhelmed with the amount of things going on, and it felt a little wandering on occasion.

The Firebirds Tale had a slow start for me, but when I finally sat down and power through it I found thing I really loved about the story, and some things that did not work quite so well for me. 

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