Book Reviews

Lava Red Feather Blue by Molly Ringle: ARC Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

Lava Red Feather Blue by Molly Ringle

Expected publication January 5th, 2021 by Central Avenue Publishing.

My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Awakening the handsome prince is supposed to end the fairy tale, not begin it. But the Highvalley witches have rarely done things the way they’re supposed to. On the north Pacific island of Eidolonia, hidden from the world by enchantments, Prince Larkin has lain in a magical sleep since 1799 as one side of a truce between humans and fae. That is, until Merrick Highvalley, a modern-day witch, discovers an old box of magic charms and cryptic notes hidden inside a garden statue.

Experimenting with the charms, Merrick finds himself inside the bower where Larkin lies, and accidentally awakens him. Worse still, releasing Larkin from the spell also releases Ula Kana, a faery bent on eradicating humans from the island. With the truce collapsing and hostilities escalating throughout the country, Merrick and Larkin form an unlikely alliance and become even unlikelier heroes as they flee into the perilous fae realm on a quest to stop Ula Kana and restore harmony to their island.

Thank you to the publisher, Central Avenue Publishing, and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Lava Red Feather Blue is a modern-day, urban fantasy, queer re-telling of Sleeping Beauty. But unlike in the fairy tale, this story doesn’t end when the princess – or in this case, the prince – awakens. In fact, that’s where the story begins.

Merrick Highvalley is an endo witch (a witch who can alter only himself), and a descendent of the infamous Rosamund Highvalley, the only witch to ever possess all three magical abilities (endo, exo, and matter); the witch who famously put Prince Larkin into a deep sleep over 200 years ago. But what history books don’t know is that Prince Larkin – hailed as being the most benevolent prince to ever exist after sacrificing himself to help put Ula Kana, a evil fire fae, to rest as well – was entrapped against his will by Rosamund Highvalley herself.

When Merrick stumbles upon his ancestors old notes, he soon learns as much. And while tinkering around with them – looking for a cure to aid his ailing father – he accidentally awakens the sleeping prince. Which in turn awakens Ula Kana. Now Merrick and Larkin must team up to stop her reign of terror on the human realm once more. But to do so they must venture into the faerie realm, where nothing is quite as straightforward as it seems.

I haven’t read many urban fantasy novels, let alone a queer urban fantasy novel, so I was definitely excited to get the chance to read Lava Red Feather Blue. I didn’t really know what to expect going into this story, and even still it definitely went in a different direction than I anticipated!

Lava Red Feather Blue is told from the perspective of both Merrick and Larkin as they deal with the repercussions of Merrick accidentally waking up Larkin, and Larkin being awake now in a world 200 years in the future from when he last opened his eyes.

Ringle very evidently follows the hero’s journey template both to the benefit and jeopardy of this story itself. A someone who is very familiar with Joseph Campbell’s archetype and similarly formatted novels – The Hobbit for example – I was both pleased, and a little disappointed with this rendition.

The hero’s journey story template is a commonly used tool, especially in regards to fantasy novels. However, a certain amount of flexibility and willingness to break the well-established model is necessary, I believe, to really make a story stand out from the crowd. Ringle does a very good job at developing characters, their motives, and the incredible world this novel is set in, Eidolonia. However, I couldn’t help but feel that this story wound up being a little formulaic at times.

Nevertheless, it’s a very exciting tale of faeries, magic, adventure and romance. 🧚‍♀️ And I also appreciated that while it was a novel with queer side characters and pairings, and the two main protagonists do fall in love, that the focus of the plot was always about the adventure at hand.

Both Merrick and Larkin were comfortable with their identities as gay men, and as a queer woman myself, this was something I definitely admired. Not every queer story needs to centre around the struggles of being queer, and it’s evident Ringle understands that.

If you’re in the mood for an adventure-packed urban fantasy novel, you should check it out for yourself and see what you think! 🏰

Have you read any good urban fantasy novels?

Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.

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