4/5 paper planes
What’s This Book About?
Genre: YA high fantasy (fae)
Publication: 10 Nov 2020
Pages: 544 (hardcover)
Synopsis: Sinister sorcery. Gallows humor. A queer romance so glorious it could be right out of fae legend itself. ‘Master of One’ is a fantasy unlike any other.
Rags is a thief—an excellent one. He’s stolen into nobles’ coffers, picked soldier’s pockets, and even liberated a ring or two off the fingers of passersby. Until he’s caught by the Queensguard and forced to find an ancient fae relic for a sadistic royal sorcerer.
But Rags could never have guessed this “relic” would actually be a fae himself—a distractingly handsome, annoyingly perfect, ancient fae prince called Shining Talon. Good thing Rags can think on his toes, because things just get stranger from there…
With the heist and intrigue of ‘Six of Crows’ and the dark fairy tale feel of ‘The Cruel Prince’, this young adult fantasy debut will have readers rooting for a pair of reluctant heroes as they take on a world-ending fae prophecy, a malicious royal plot, and, most dangerously of all, their feelings for each other.
Content warnings: violence, injury and death; grief and loss of a loved one; torture; references to domestic and child abuse; swearing
What I Thought:
This got off to a walloping start with a shockingly violent prologue (think ‘Game of Thrones’ level) opening up for a Chapter One full of sass, gallows humour and a protagonist (Rags the thief) who simply leaps off the page.
Rags was my favourite character, especially when we learn a little more about his past. There were some unexpectedly heartwarming and wholesome moments too, especially near the end. The other characters were interesting too all with distinct narratives leading up to when their lives irrevocably merge together. I really liked Prince Somhairle in particular! I wish we’d gotten a POV from the fae prince himself…perhaps in the sequel? (Please.) I’d love to read him recollecting his first encounter with Rags. Absolutely iconic scene and one of my favourite human/fae meetings I’ve read.
I’d say that the blurb’s comparison to ‘Six of Crows’ is fair. You’ve got definite found family dynamics, grudging alliances, sarcastic humour and an epic heist sequence full of booby traps and close calls. Very Indiana Jones.
I really liked the high fantasy world, especially the names of the royal and noble houses. I’m intrigued – is there a specific reason why there are only (human) queens reigning, or is this whole society a matrilineal one? There’s a whole variety of POV characters (gay, trans and disability rep), with a couple of characters of colour, though I’m pretty sure the vast majority of characters here are white. The fae I’m not sure about though!
The first 50% was super bingeable, flagged a bit in the middle as the POVs increased and the plot grew more complex, but it soon picked up again. I did sometimes get a little confused when the different POV chapters split focus during conflict scenes, as well as by the ever-growing cast, but overall it didn’t really bother me.
There’s less romance than I was expecting but I still shipped the main couple so much! Their budding relationship is sweet and earnest in a world full of nastiness, and peppered with cute and funny moments. I also really liked the platonic love in this. I don’t want to spoil anything, so suffice to say that I had Eragon nostalgia and absolutely adored that aspect of this story.
Overall this was a fun, refreshing high fantasy romp and I’m really hoping for a sequel!
Standout quotes (from eARC version)
“What does it mean?” the fae asked… “‘Pissing balls of f***ing fire’? Is it your name?”
I would forgive you anything. Anything but death.
I have waited so long for you… So many of your short lifetimes. And I have missed you every moment of every year until we met.
No one can stop us when we fight… No one can stop us because of what we fight for.
Top 5 Reasons to read this book!
- the really cool fae, shady sorcerers and creepy mirror magic
- some absolutely hilarious, laugh-out-loud scenes
- if you like ragtag bands of misfit, morally grey, unlikely heroes
- no spoilers, but if you liked Eragon and Saphira’s bond in the ‘Inheritance’ cycle…read this
- a deep conspiracy webbed with lies and doctored histories
📚 Book Links:
About the Authors:
Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett are married co-authors (without wanting to divorce yet) who live in Brooklyn with eight cats. Danielle is from Victoria, British Columbia, and works freelance as an independent editor, proofreader and plagiarism checker. Jaida is a native New Yorker. Their published work includes four novels from the Volstovic Cycle, in addition to their many twitter rants on intersectional feminism and the NYC subway system.