This Golden Flame was the Fairyloot book for February, but it was on my radar long before that – because this is a fantasy book with asexual rep in it! I was pretty excited to read this one and joined the Fairyloot readalong this past week.
Title: This Golden Flame
Author: Emily Victoria
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-fi, LGBTQ
This Golden Flame is a mix of Ancient Greece/Rome with steampunk feeling automatons and rune magic in a world where the automatons are all unmovable for centuries…until Karis wakes one up.
Let me start off by saying – its not you, book, it’s me. I think a lot of people will enjoy this one – I’m just not one of them. Everything you need to know about this book is in the synopsis – really, thats basically the entire plot. To me, the plot felt unoriginal. The world was ok, but I never felt like it was really built up – I just had to imagine Ancient Rome in my mind – and truthfully, thats not a time period I love to read about in fiction. Things are pretty quickly paced which I appreciated, but at the same time, the language used in this felt like upper middle grade rather than young adult. It feels redundant to say it felt juvenile – this is young adult – but it felt on the younger side than most YA I read.
All the characters were ok on the base level, but I never felt like I got to know them. I appreciated that Karis mentioned more than once she never seemed to have the romantic feelings for someone that everyone else had, and that made her feel like an outsider. She is on the aroace spectrum and while I love the representation in YA literature, it also didn’t go as deep as I would have liked. Truth be told, I’m fine when books don’t have romance! I appreciate a good story, and I appreciate friendship between opposite genders. You can be friends with a guy without wanting to sleep with him – shocker, I know! I’ve seen this heavily promoted as an ace book and that is really about 5% of the overall plot – its so minimal its barely there unless you knew it was there going in.
I really loved the automaton that Karis (accidentally) woke up – Alix. He has been sleeping for 2 centuries and needs to get reacquainted with the world – and I loved watching him discover the world and himself. Automatons are supposed to be machines, controlled by people with runes – but Alix can freely move and think for himself. He was my favorite character throughout this journey.
Then this book quickly went from Anicent Rome to a pirate book and needless to say, I was confused. I got major Fable vibes (which, unfortunately, I did not enjoy) – the pirate bits were pretty entertaining, but felt like too much information and too little pay off for it.
This entire book felt too rushed and not fleshed out enough in my opinion. I think the concept had potential, but it didn’t quite work for me – but as mentioned, I do think this book will work for a lot of people so if steampunk mixed with Ancient Rome is something that sounds cool to you – give this one a go!
I listened to this one as an audiobook and I appreciated that there were two narrators, one for Karis’s POV and one for Alix’s POV – I always like dual narrators and this helped to differentiate their POV’s for me. I thought both narrators were good and easy to listen to and if audio is your think, go for it! I think this one would be the same in print or audio.
I would recommend this book to a younger audience, I think younger teens will appreciate this more. It is a cool concept, but I wanted to see the plot and characters fleshed out more. Also great if you’re looking for some asexual representation in a fantasy world!