STAR RATING: 5/5 ✶
SUMMARY: Branwen has a secret powerful enough to destroy two kingdoms.
Her ancient magic led to a terrible betrayal by both her best friend, the princess Essy, and her first love, Tristan. Now this same magic is changing Branwen. Adrift in a rival court, Branwen must hide the truth from the enemy king by protecting the lovers who broke her heart—and finds herself considering a darker path.
Not everyone wants the alliance with Branwen’s kingdom to succeed—peace is balanced on a knife’s edge, and her only chance may be to embrace the darkness within… (From Imprint)
OPINIONS: I originally was not going to review Wild Savage Stars on the blog, as I have quite a few books I am already planning on featuring in June. But I just finished reading it and I am blown away. Sweet Black Waves was good, but Wild Savage Stars is so much better. It is a character-driven YA fantasy based on medieval legend and culture, using outside conflict as catalyst for growth rather than taking easy, story-led paths out. Much of what happens is unexpected but entirely in character and justified and shows great craft on the part of Kristina Pérez.
Branwen, Marc, Ruan, Tristan and Eseult are some of the most frustrating, complex and human characters that I have read in YA recently. Their behaviour and actions are heartbreaking and believable, and I could not put the book down. After Sweet Black Waves had Branwen fall in love and set up a story, Wild Savage Stars dared to tear it all down and go in a new direction, have its heroine face her darker side and come out stronger. One of the aspects that is thoroughly refreshing, is seeing her take a lover for the pleasure of it, something which I think is far too rare in YA, still hung up on the concept of the ‘one true love’ as a teenager and the purity of virginity.
What gives the story an additional dimension is that Kristina Pérez is intimately familiar with the period and literature as someone who has a PhD in medieval literature. Her knowledge shines through without overburdening the reader at any point, making Wild Savage Stars a pleasure to read throughout.
If you are intrigued, Sweet Black Waves and Wild Savage Stars are out now and available from Waterstones here and here, and the trilogy’s conclusion, Bright Raven Skies, will be published in August and is available for pre-order from Book Depository here. You can add them all on Goodreads by clicking on the titles!