Kim Wilkins was born in London, and grew up at the seaside north of Brisbane, Australia. She has degrees in literature and creative writing, and teaches at the University of Queensland and in the community. Her first novel, The Infernal, a supernatural thriller was published in 1997. Since then, she has published across many genres and for many different age groups. Her latest books, contemporary epic women’s fiction, are published under the pseudonym Kimberley Freeman. Kim has won many awards and is published all over the world. She lives in Brisbane with a bunch of lovable people and pets.

Review: SISTERS OF THE FIRE by Kim Wilkins

Review:  SISTERS OF THE FIRE by Kim WilkinsSisters of the Fire by Kim Wilkins
Also by this author: Daughters of the Storm
four-stars
Series: Blood and Gold #2
Published by Del Rey on February 5, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 448
Also in this series: Daughters of the Storm
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

SISTERS OF THE FIRE Review

Sisters of the Fire is the second installment in Kim Wilkins’ captivating epic fantasy series, Blood and Gold.  It picks up four years after the events of the first book, continuing the adventures of the five royal daughters of the King of Thyrsland.  Events from the first book have left the King’s daughters scattered far and wide throughout the kingdom.  Only Bluebell, the eldest daughter, has remained at home with her father, as she will be heir to the throne one day.  Bluebell has attained nearly legendary status as a warrior and is deemed by most to be unkillable, so when she learns one of her enemies has had a magical sword created that has the power to kill her and that it is in the possession of one of her sisters, Bluebell goes on a quest to find each of her sisters and figure out who has the sword so that she can destroy it before it can do her harm.

As with the first book in the series, we follow the perspectives of each of the five sisters, so we see what trials and tribulations the other four sisters are facing while we’re also following Bluebell on her quest.  Sister Ash, a seer, is still in self-imposed exile learning to control her magic and hunting dragons, while sister Rose, is in hiding, having been cast aside by her husband because she was unfaithful. What made this second book an even better read for me than the first one was that the two younger sisters had much bigger roles this time whereas they felt more like secondary characters in the first book.  Ivy is living with her much older husband and is in a position to attain great power should something happen to him, and Willow, our religious zealot from the first book, has become even more fanatical about her faith when we meet her in this book.

Sisters of the Fire is filled with secrets, lies, betrayal, plenty of action, familial love, and yes, even a few hints of romance. It also does a wonderful job of advancing the story arcs of each of the sisters, as well as introducing my new favorite character, Rose’s daughter, Rowan, who was an infant in the first book. Rowan has grown into a feisty rebellious character, who aspires to be a fierce warrior like her aunt Bluebell, while everyone around her wants her to be proper and ladylike.  She’s a delightful addition to what was already a stellar cast of badass females, and I can’t wait to see how she factors in as this exciting series continues.

With this second installment, the Blood and Gold series continues to impress me and I look forward to seeing what is in store for all of the sisters, and of course, Rowan, in the next book. I highly recommend the series to fantasy fans, but I also wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about complicated family dynamics, especially sibling relationships.

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

In the next chapter of a fantasy series featuring five unforgettable sisters—the warrior, the magician, the lover, the zealot, and the gossip—an insidious threat jeopardizes a fragile peace.

Four years have passed since the five royal sisters—daughters of the king—worked together to restore their father to health and to the throne while fracturing the bonds among themselves almost irreparably. Only Bluebell remains at home, dutifully serving as heir to her father’s kingdom. Rose has been cast aside by her former husband and hides in exile with her aunt, separated forever from her beloved daughter, Rowan. Ash wanders the distant wastes with her teacher, learning magic and hunting dragons, determined that the dread fate she has foreseen for herself and her loved ones never comes to pass. Ivy rules over a prosperous seaport, married to an aged husband she hates yet finding delight in her two young sons and a handsome captain of the guard. And as for Willow, she hides the most dangerous secret of all—one that could destroy all that the sisters once sought to save.

four-stars

About Kim Wilkins

Kim Wilkins was born in London, and grew up at the seaside north of Brisbane, Australia. She has degrees in literature and creative writing, and teaches at the University of Queensland and in the community. Her first novel, The Infernal, a supernatural thriller was published in 1997. Since then, she has published across many genres and for many different age groups. Her latest books, contemporary epic women’s fiction, are published under the pseudonym Kimberley Freeman. Kim has won many awards and is published all over the world. She lives in Brisbane with a bunch of lovable people and pets.

Review: DAUGHTERS OF THE STORM by Kim Wilkins

Review:  DAUGHTERS OF THE STORM by Kim WilkinsDaughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins
Also by this author: Sisters of the Fire
three-half-stars
Series: Blood and Gold #1
Published by Del Rey Books on March 6th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 448
Also in this series: Sisters of the Fire
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

The first novel in an exciting new fantasy series by Kim Wilkins, Daughters of the Storm follows the story of five very different royal sisters who must put aside their differences and come together to save their kingdom.

These sisters are so different from one another, at times, it’s hard to believe that they share the same blood.  There’s Bluebell, the eldest, a fierce warrior who has been trained by her father to rule the kingdom of Thyrsland someday.  She is feared by all and actually rumored to be unkillable in battle.  Then there’s Ash, a gentler soul than Bluebell.  Ash is studying to be a healer but has discovered she has the ability to see the future.  As she struggles to learn more about and control this ability, she becomes more and more torn about whether being a seer is a gift or a curse.  The third sister is Rose, and Rose is ruled by her passion.  Her father married her off to the ruler of a neighboring kingdom, as a way to form an alliance and keep the peace.  Rose, however, does not love her husband and is willing to risk peaceful relations between the kingdoms by pursuing a forbidden love.  And finally, there are the twins Willow and Ivy, who have been living with a distant relative for a while and left to their own devices. For Willow, being left to her own devices translates to her joining a new religion and behaving as though she’s a brainwashed member of a cult.  For Ivy, it means being vain and flirtatious and trying to bed any man she desires.

When their father, the King, is stricken by a mysterious illness that appears to have magical roots, the sisters, led by Bluebell who appears to be the most devoted to their father, come together in a desperate attempt to save his life and their kingdom.  Not only do they need to track down a powerful witch who can cure the King, but they must also do so while not letting word get out that the King is near death. They have enough trouble on their hands trying to keep their treacherous stepbrother from stealing the throne; the last thing they need is to alert the rest of the King’s enemies that he is vulnerable should they wish to mount an attack.

 

What an exciting and fast-paced read this was!  I originally picked it up because I liked the idea of these sisters who would normally have little to do with one another being forced to come together to save their father.  But in many ways, it was so much more than that.  Not only are these sisters different from each other, but they also differ in their devotion to their father.  Bluebell, even though she would become ruler of the kingdom if her father were to die and is clearly ready to rule, is desperate to save his life at all costs.  Ash appears to be similarly devoted, but the younger three seem almost indifferent as to whether they save him or not.  They are annoyed they have been summoned from their lives to be a part of this rescue mission.  That was quite unexpected and added a layer of depth to the story I wasn’t expecting going into it and I wanted to know more about why each of them felt the way they did.

I got my opportunity to learn much more about each sister too as the story is presented to us from the alternating points of view of all five sisters, not to mention a few chapters from the stepbrother’s point of view as well.  At first I thought so many POVs would be too confusing and would bog down my reading experience, but Wilkins does a great job of incorporating each POV in a way that wasn’t confusing while still advancing the overall plot. I think the sisters being so different probably helped with that.  I never got one mixed up with another.  I also really loved getting inside of each sister’s head because wow, they are each holding on to some secrets that if they got out, could easily bring down their kingdom whether their father lives or not.

I also really liked the complicated family dynamic with the Queen as stepmother to the five sisters instead of their birth mother.  In many ways the Queen sets most of the drama into motion because of her assumption that Bluebell and the girls hate her and will expel her from the castle if their father dies.  Because of this fear, instead of sending word out to the girls first when their father falls ill, she summons her son instead. She wants him there in case they try to throw her out.  This just opens up a whole can of worms as Bluebell finds out elsewhere that her father is ill and thus immediately suspects that her stepmother and stepbrother are up to something.  Getting on Bluebell’s bad side from the get go probably wasn’t the smartest move.

As far as the sisters themselves, my reaction was a bit mixed.  Bluebell and Ash were, by far, my favorites. I admired the fierceness of Bluebell and the fact that people truly were scared to death of her.  I chuckled a few times throughout when people referred to her as Princess and then practically fell over themselves apologizing after receiving a death glare from her.  It becomes clear that it’s well known throughout the kingdom that she hates the term Princess and wishes only to be addressed as My Lord.  I found Ash to be equally as interesting as Bluebell, and I liked that they did appear to be pretty close unlike the other sisters. I also enjoyed the subplot involving Ash’s seer abilities that ran alongside the main storyline of the book.  It was fascinating to watch her learn more about and control her abilities, which are apparently a bit more than being able to see the future, to help on their quest to save their father, and I liked the self-sacrificing side of Ash that comes out whenever she thinks her abilities may cause others to be hurt.

Strangely enough, in many ways, however, the most interesting character was the stepbrother, Wylm. I think what I liked about him was that he was such a complicated character and kept me guessing throughout the story as to how much of a villain he really was.  At first I was okay with him, but then I hated him.  Then a bit later, something else happened and I thought “Hmmm, maybe he does have some redeeming qualities” and so on.  If you enjoy complicated characters, he’s definitely the one to keep your eyes on.

 

I didn’t have a lot of issues with this book, but I did have a couple.  The first of which is the name Bluebell.  I know it’s shallow and nitpicky to get hung up on a character’s name, but I just found it distracting, especially every time she was referred to as Bluebell the Fierce.  It’s hard to think of a character as a fierce warrior with a name like that.  So yeah, shallow nitpick from me because I loved everything about Bluebell except her name, but there it is.

The other issue I had was that I didn’t like the other three sisters at all.  Aside from the drama they added to the plot with their secrets and their willingness to betray one another and their kingdom, I just didn’t find them nearly as compelling as Bluebell and Ash. I’m wondering if they’ll play more important roles in later novels in the series, but for this one, most of the time they just felt like background noise to me.

 

Even with the couple of issues I had, I still thought Daughters of the Storm was an exciting read and I look forward to seeing where Wilkins takes the story next.  If you’re into strong female characters, with a side of secrets, lies, and betrayal, this is a fantasy world you’ll want to immerse yourself in.

 

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Five very different sisters team up against their stepbrother to save their kingdom in this Norse-flavored fantasy epic–the start of a new series in the tradition of Naomi Novik, Peter V. Brett, and Robin Hobb.

FIVE ROYAL SISTERS. ONE CROWN.

They are the daughters of a king. Though they share the same royal blood, they could not be more different. Bluebell is a proud warrior, stronger than any man and with an ironclad heart to match. Rose’s heart is all too passionate: She is the queen of a neighboring kingdom, who is risking everything for a forbidden love. The twins: vain Ivy, who lives for admiration, and zealous Willow, who lives for the gods. And Ash, who is discovering a dangerous talent for magic that might be a gift–or a curse.

But when their father is stricken by a mysterious ailment, they must come together on a desperate journey to save him and prevent their treacherous stepbrother from seizing the throne. Their mission: find the powerful witch who can cure the king. But to succeed on their quest, they must overcome their differences, and hope that the secrets they hide from one another and the world are never brought to light. Because if this royal family breaks, it could destroy the kingdom.

three-half-stars

About Kim Wilkins

Kim Wilkins was born in London, and grew up at the seaside north of Brisbane, Australia. She has degrees in literature and creative writing, and teaches at the University of Queensland and in the community. Her first novel, The Infernal, a supernatural thriller was published in 1997. Since then, she has published across many genres and for many different age groups. Her latest books, contemporary epic women’s fiction, are published under the pseudonym Kimberley Freeman. Kim has won many awards and is published all over the world. She lives in Brisbane with a bunch of lovable people and pets.