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.
NEXT: A House of Rage and Sorrow (#2)
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A Spark of White Fire is a Mahabharata, and epic of Hindu mythology, inspired science fiction set in space that incorporates fantasy elements too. It follows an abandoned young girl who wants a place in her family and walks on this path that then leads to all the bittersweet chaos in a galaxy where gods and mortals coexist and things are much more complex than they might seem.
What is world if not grey.
Picking up a story inspired by Hindu mythology is always top priority on my reading list so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I loved this simply for what it represented. Mahabharata is a classic epic that is often seen to be taken up and crafted into retellings, but the best part about A Spark of White Fire is the inspiration it takes from the mythology instead of piecing it together as it historically is.
The characters aren’t morally driven according to the tale and that impresses the most. No character is absolutely right or wrong, each character is affected by the decisions they took and that, in turn, affects the decisions they’re going to take. Full points to complexity.
The twists are going to leave you surprised.
Esmae is a lost princess and if you think that was a spoiler, you have no idea what twists and turns are thrown in the latter parts of the story. Her want for a family, for a mother who had to give up her daughter, is intense and drives her motive through the book. I’m always immensely impressed by strong female characters especially in YA and Esmae gives me everything in that aspect. She makes independent decisions and hard choices to get wherever the story takes her. Which means not everything she does is right but that’s what brings her even more alive to me.
Everyone is connected and that makes everything even more complex.
The family dynamics and the tear between so many relationships increases the complexity of this book and I’m all here for it because what can be more realistic than that. There’s the focus on a throne and a war that’s almost here, but the way it wasn’t displayed in a cliche race to power made me so happy. The young characters are given as much say and credit for their intelligence as the elders sitting around the tables. The love, respect, and honour that is gradually built for each character is pleasantly surprising.
The gods are as flawed as humans.
Incorporating gods with mortal universes is a tricky thing for me, but the way it was done in this book is so good. The gods aren’t strikingly superior to the mortals. Sure, they have powers and they have their favourites but they aren’t writing every turn of this story. They’re, in fact, a part of it. And not many stories give you that! They’re fully supportive of the ones they want to side with but they are also as much vulnerable and the author doesn’t let us forget that.
Overall, with complex family dynamics, gods, celestial weapons, a sentient spaceship, political intrigue, and morally grey characters, this space opera redefines relationships, places personal ambitions at the top, plays with power, lets a broken heart drive every goal, and shows a world where planets are different kingdoms.
my rating ↣ ★★★★★
Buy the book: Amazon US | Bookshop UK | Amazon IN
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One thought on “Book Review: A Spark Of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna”
I love the details you add to your reviews. They’re so unique to you. IM SO GLAD YOU LOVED THIS BOOK (even though we inadvertently buddy read it during the ILR). Have you already finished the second one as well? I swear I’m procrastinating simply because good God I don’t want to cry.