book review

The Bird and The Sword by Amy Harmon


If I could give this book more than five stars, I would.

Goodreads description:

Swallow, Daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, Daughter. Stay alive.

The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would trade his soul and lose his son to the sky.

My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.

But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?

Amy Harmon spins a story that’s quite different from most she’s written so far (at least, those I’ve read — The Law of Moses, Making Faces, Infinity + One), and yet, at the base of it, it still feels authentically Amy Harmon. She has a voice that’s so distinct and captivating, I can pick her stories out of a line-up without blinking an eye. Needless to say, she continues to be one of my favorite authors.

This story, in particular, has me appreciating fantasy, which is a genre that’s pretty low on my to-read list. However, I was sucked into the book and fell right into the shoes of the main character, Lark. Told from Lark’s perspective, this fantasy world has an abundance of characters so vibrant and well-crafted, I actually found myself questioning whether or not those around me are Gifted as well. She created a world of kings and queens, monsters and heroes, lords and hordes of killer birdmen, palsy-walsy trolls and the power of words. And despite the magical elements, it was real to me.

Things I loved about the story:

1. A beautifully imagined world. Apart from the fantastic characters, it has its own language, which embraces the readers completely. For example, the tongues that Lark’s trusty troll speaks is very indicative of the kind of character that he was. All the places and characters’ names give this story an old-world feel both foreign and familiar. Amy Harmon created a map in my head that I wanted to explore further, and lose myself in. It was wonderful.

2. A strong heroine. Despite her fragile and quiet demeanor, Lark is anything but. She is magnetic and magnificent, a giant in her own right. And without the ability to speak outwardly, she still managed to command fairly and fiercely. More importantly, love boldly and completely.

3. The chemistry between Lark and King Tiras. There has always been that underlying understanding that they were meant for each other. The flirty back-and-forth, the whispers in the night, the gestures of kindness and the all-consuming declarations of love — it fueled the slow burn, which settled in my gut and scorched me from the inside out. It goes without saying that I gladly let the flames devour me.

4. The twists and turns. If you’ve been following my reviews, you’ll know that I always pride myself in being able to predict how stories unfold themselves. This one had me gasping in surprise so much. It had me constantly at the edge of my seat. Definitely a refreshing way to read a cleverly written story.

5. An abundance of quote-worthy lines. As I mentioned previously, the language is just beautiful. So it isn’t all that surprising that the romance invites hordes of butterflies in the stomach. Pick up a copy and read it for yourself. I will be saving all this goodness for upcoming Thirsty Thursdays.

6. That epilogue. I love when stories come full circle, and this one rounded it out perfectly. I should’ve easily expected that an amazing writer like Amy Harmon can’t have ended it any other way, but I was pleasantly surprised.

It is a rare occasion that I immerse myself so deeply in a world where the story had me letting go of my expectations. It took me for quite a whirlwind of a ride, and I wouldn’t mind taking it over and over again.

Rating: 5 soaring stars


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