I was fortunate to receive an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher and author through Netgalley in exchange for feedback and my honest review. These are my opinions, uninfluenced.
The Endless Skies by Shannon Price is a standalone, young-adult, fantasy releasing on August 17th 2021. Not long to ago!
In the sky, floats Heliana, the city of winged-lion shapeshifters (Leonodai). A day before Rowan can pledge to become a part of the elite warriors to keep Heliana peaceful and safe, a disease spreads amongst the children. Once her closest friends are sent on a risky mission to get the cure from their enemies (Humans), Rowan is left behind. As time starts running out, Rowan learns something that could save Heliana, but the truth comes with a price.
The story is told from three point of views: Shirene, Rowan, and Callen. The first chapter is Shirene’s introduction, creating a sense that either she’s the main character or a really important factor for the story. Shirene was an interesting character, she seemed strong and badass. From get go, as she is put in a position of power by the King’s side, I liked her. Even though there seems to be a lot to her, from her love interest, role in the hierarchy and perspective, she doesn’t seem to play as key of a role as I had expected. She doesn’t have a character arc through which she grows and develops. In the end, she is simply Rowan’s sister and someone with a high position in the system.
Rowan, the main character was brave and a character that I could easily root for. But beyond that, I didn’t feel too much for her. Callen, her best friend slash love interest and warrior, was another character that I didn’t dislike nor did I love. To me, the characters felt under-developed. The multiple point of views could’ve easily been simplified to a single narrative or even two point of views.
A love triangle between Rowan, Callen and Ox brews in the story. Typically, I’m not a fan of love triangles, and it’s very rare that I make an exception for that and even rarer that I enjoy them. I was really excited for this book due it’s incredible premise so I decided to give the love triangle a go. This is one of the rare times, where the love triangle didn’t anger me, which is a plus. In saying that, I didn’t enjoy it either. The best way to describe the love triangle is: rushed. Time was split between Callen and Ox, not going into either the feelings either were evoking well enough. Due to that, I didn’t care who Rowan ended up with. I feel that if we had just had one romantic line going on, it would’ve had a chance to expand and thrive more.
The world was really interesting and one of my favourite parts of this story. It was a really interesting concept. Winged-lions? How cool is that? As if, lions and wings weren’t badass enough on their own. I loved everything about it, from the role everyone played in it, the animosity between humans and Leonodai. If this was a series, I would’ve liked to see the world explored more, especially the other kingdoms that we catch a glimpse of in the first chapter.
The first thing that I noticed about this book and possibly the most disappointing, was the writing style. It felt like there was too much telling going on and less showing. Usually, I see this in the descriptions and dialogue tags, but I picked up on this through the dialogues, too. It seemed like the dialogues were also a bit ‘info-dumpy’. I think if this had been fixed, I would’ve probably felt more attached to the characters. There was a lot of ‘I care about this person a lot’ and not actually showing me the relationship between the characters. This made it really hard to believe any of what was going on.
The overall plot and concept was the highlight for me. I liked the idea of the disease threatening the peace of Heliana and their only hope lying with the humans. I enjoyed reading about the stakes and how the plot progressed and questioned everything Rowan knew. This was a great adventure as we moved between different settings.
As the story wrapped up, I was left a little confused. The ending seemed all too convenient for me and there wasn’t enough of an explanation to justify it. The Leonodai don’t believe in luck, but the ending felt exactly that. Perhaps, that was the point, but I still wish we had explored that a bit more.
Another positive for me would be the messages in the books. I especially enjoyed the importance of individual’s morals and values, and how that shapes a person and their actions. Cruelty of human actions was also weaved well into the story, which was very thought provoking.
I was completely surprised by the betrayal portion of this book. It played into the ‘messages’ part of this story, and I ate it up. That was well done!
I know, I dissected this story quite a bit, but I did enjoy reading this. It was fast, thought-provking and a great standalone. But the issue with standalone fantasies will always persist – it’s hard to create such intricate worlds, characters and stakes without rushing them in only so many pages. Please also keep in mind that I received an ARC, which means changes could’ve made for the finished copy.
If you’re looking for an action packed, adventurous fantasy that doesn’t require commitment and takes you to a novel world of warriors, I highly recommend you grab yourself a copy when it comes out in a few days.