Bright Star (Sky Riders #1) by Erin Swan - Book Review

Write on: Wed, 14 Aug 2019 by  in John's Reviews Read 2435

Erin Swan’s YA fantasy debut Bright Star follows Andra, a slave girl left mute by a traumatic event early in the story. When her master’s son is slain by assassins, she finds herself caught up in a rebellion against the corrupt government. If the rebellion is to succeed, Andra will need to find her voice, realize her potential, and become the leader Paerolia needs. Luckily, she has the help of a dragon.

I have anticipated Bright Star for a long time. To my knowledge, it is the only Inkitt book picked up by a major publisher, and I’ve followed the author’s journey from Tor’s purchase through publication. I don’t think that affected my expectations, but I’ve been curious about it for a while.

That said, I think this is a solid debut. It reminded me a lot of Eragon by Christopher Paolini with shades of Half the World by Joe Abercrombie. Paerolia isn’t a peaceful place for everybody, no matter how much the leadership wants to believe it. A lack of war doesn’t mean peace. There is obvious inequality between the rich and poor. While she wears her slave collar, Andra is essentially chattel and is treated as such. Among the Freemen, there’s even a little bit of patriarchal manhandling. It is not pleasant.

The story revolves around Sky Riders, people bonded with dragons, who can perform magic (but not the dark kind because that’s bad). The magic system is low fantasy, in that there don’t seem to be hard rules about it. It is natural or invocational. There are people who have limited stores of it, and others who can syphon it from the planet. It isn’t stormlight, but it gets the job done.

What I think Bright Star does best of all is subverting expectations and bending genre tropes. I say bending and not breaking because there were still a number of things I expected to happen that did…but not in the way I expected. I would settle in thinking, “Oh okay, this is going to happen” and then it wouldn’t…and then it would like 125 pages later when it was least expected. And there was only one instance of being conveniently timed.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the romantic subplot. It makes up a lot of the book and is handled well. I’m not really the target demographic for this, but I enjoyed it regardless. I too am in love and was young once…

Not everything ties up the end and the new status quo is interesting enough to warrant a sequel. All in all, I look forward to what comes next for Andra and Ms. Swan.

I would call this gateway fantasy (not portal fantasy which is a different thing). Looking to get someone into reading fantasy, suggest Bright Star. Want a better Eragon? Bright Star. Looking for female led YA fantasy? Bright Star.

So…check it out. It hit shelves yesterday.

Last modified on Wednesday, 14 August 2019 14:33

John Scritchfield spends his days caring for his four children and his nights wearing costumes and pretending to hit people with blunt weaponry. There is very little money it. He holds an MFA in Acting, which he puts to use as the Creative Director for the Calvin Theatre Company at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he also teachesIn his free time, he enjoys playing Dungeons & Dragons, reading, writing, and spending time with his wife, children, and two cats (Jasnah and Vin). Oh, he's also the Booknest co-Admin.