4.5 beautifully Thai, bachelorette style, dragon riding stars!
Spark to Shadow was everything I wanted in a book. It is everything I want in all of my YA and New Adult fantasy books. I am incredibly impressed! I went into this book thinking, “thank goodness I can read an Asian inspired ownvoices ARC” and as I read, there was just more and more that I enjoyed about this book. This book is definitely not short of any fun with a Bachelorette style competition, magic, badass friends, dragons, and a classic love triangle. Not to mention bonus excitement that added so much joy for me as a reader, such as a Thai main character (when do you ever see that?!), sex worker positive society and a matriarchy with fair gender rolls (in Miang).
Spark to Shadow follows a young woman named Fang. She is about to step up to be the head of her clan, but first, she must choose a consort and fulfill a peace contract to bind her country, Miang, with the nearby nation of Anda. Of course, when traveling to another country with different customs, there is bound to be things you don’t expect. Like stumbling upon a male witch who is inexplicably tied to you with a red string.
I was absolutely delighted by this book. There was a point in the middle where it got a little slow, but it definitely redeemed itself. I absolutely loved the bachelorette style competition. And I loved how much of a badass Fang was. She knows what is right, and she doesn’t back down, and everyone respects that about her. I love how she was able to make her own choices, even before she becomes matron of her clan. There were several points in this book where I was expecting more backlash for her choices, as would be expected in most books, and apparently I am conditioned to anticipate it. However, every single time that Fang made a decision that seemed would cause backlash, everyone respected her decision. It was… wow. Something I didn’t know I so desperately needed in a book.
The entire time I was reading this, I just kept thinking how great it is, especially for an independently published book. Atima Kim I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for getting this published and into my hands. I cried while reading it at least two times (once during just the dedication), just because of the representation you are giving people. Even though I don’t exactly get to see myself in this piece, it feels close. And I know that it is more important for Tae to see a world that looks like him, and I’m so glad that you could give that to him.
If you enjoy YA with strong female characters, inclusivity, magic, love triangles, and lots of fun, you will enjoy this read. I really really wish more people would read it. I need people to fan girl about it to!
Spark to Shadow is a book that I wish I had as I was growing up, but I sure am glad it is a book that exists today that I can enjoy. It has all the fun that I need in a YA or New Adult book, and all the inclusivity and positivity that is often missing from far too many books. I absolutely cannot wait for the second book!!
Will this make it onto your TBR? Have you read any Thai inspired fantasy recently?
About the Author
Atima Kim is an Asian-American author, small business owner, a perfectly average gardener, and aspires to someday have a pet emu. Her books and writing are heavily influenced by the diversity in her everyday life. Born to a Thai mother and an American father, she spent the larger part of her childhood in a small Midwestern town, spending most of the summer holidays in a rural Thai village. Already used to balancing between two cultures, her world only became more colorful when a third set was added into her life through marriage.
She considered many careers, including a brief period of time in college when she temporarily forgot she was an introvert that had no patience for customer service and attempted to entertain a future in becoming a flight attendant. Eventually she concluded the only two things she constantly found herself coming back to were writing and her love of animals. Today she spends her days dreaming up new worlds while simultaneously forming her backyard into a personal petting zoo. When not doing either of these two things she can be found wrangling her fearless toddler, hiking near her home in the Pacific Northwest with her dogs, or watching Kdramas with her mostly obliging husband.