Book Review: Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill
Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Book Review: Champion of Fate by Kendare Blake

My mother used to say that autumn children were changeable in mood, that they were wild, that they would fly away with the wind if you didn't hold them close.

Champion of fate(That quote doesn't have a whole lot to do with the story; I just really liked the concept!)

Champion of Fate by Kendare Blake was the first print book I actually finished after my October-consumed interactions with Frankenstein, a single audio book, and more than a few DNF's. 

I'd read and loved Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood and its sequel, Girl of Nightmares, so when I walked past the new YA books display one day at work and noticed this new title there, I decided to grab it. 

I started it that night and finished a few days later. Which felt like a HUGE accomplishment and a return to my actual reading habits. A feeling I needed to have to remind myself that I am, in fact, a person who does read books, rather than just checking them out, piling them up around the house, and then returning them. 

None of which really has much to do with the book itself—except for the fact that yes, I enjoyed this so much I actually finished it!

Set in a different reality, it tells the story of a group of mythical female warriors, the Aristenes. These women are nearly immortal, and their role is to find the humans who have potential destiny as heroes and then to help them fulfill that destiny. 

The main character, Reed, is orphaned as a child and nearly becomes a ritual sacrifice by the tribe that killed the rest of her family, but she (and the horse she has fallen in love with, despite his grumpiness) are rescued by Aster and Veridian, two Aristene who happen upon her. 

Eight years later, Reed has trained to become an Aristene herself but she must first complete her Hero Trial, the process of helping a person in society become the hero he or she was destined to be. If she accomplishes the task, she will finish the process of become an Aristene—the thing that has kept her focused and driven since her family was killed. If she fails, she has to return to a normal, human life. 

There were parts of this book that brought me to actual tears, especially when Reed learns the type of Aristene she will become. And the sacrifice she makes near the end. But what I really enjoyed most about it was how immersive it is. I felt a part of the action for the whole time, from Reed's loss of her mother all the way to the outcome of her Hero Trial. I also liked many of the other characters, not just Reed, with Veridian being an especial favorite. 

This is a story about female relationships, and how other women can (and do) bring happiness and fulfillment to our lives when we lose others. This was bittersweet to me, as Reed's horse's name, Silco, reminded me of a different time in my life when women did not do that for me (but could have). Which in turn lead me to poke at my current loneliness, and the ways that, rape and violence aside, it's actually women who hold the most capacity for hurting other women. 

But that's just my own little drama. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the rest of the series. It reminded me a bit of The Gilded Ones by Amina Forna, so if you read and liked that one, you'll likely enjoy this one, too.


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