Never leave the path.
It’s sacred law, punishable by exile.
When her son goes missing in the perilous mountains, Kaemada defies the law to search for him. She enlists the help of her hero brother, a priestess berserker, and a fire-wielding friend.
But the law exists for a reason.
When the search party is captured by the mythical Kamalti, they learn that Kaemada’s son was sent to an ancient prison city. But as they battle for freedom, they discover a horrible truth that will change the future of both races forever.
With their world in upheaval, Kaemada must find a way to peace if she’s to save her son—but tensions between the two races are leading to war.
I’m writing this review as part of the Write Hive’s blog tour. Thankyou to Kriti and SK for giving me the opportunity to read this book and hop aboard the tour!
Between Starfalls appealed to me with the premise of the main character being a mother. I can’t recall many fantasy books at all in which this is the case and this certainly adds a unique and powerful dynamic to the story that you can certainly count amongst its strengths.
It also meant Between Starfalls was a unique reading experience for me because this and a few other elements provoked a range of emotions in me; something I can’t usually say even for many of my favourite books.
I use a scoring tool that Kriti kindly shared and when I finish a book I fill it in just to keep track of how I felt immediately afterwards for my own future reference. There are several categories and the emotional response category for Between Starfalls got the highest score from me yet.
This was almost exclusively due to Kaemada’s storyline. There were moments I felt an absolutely huge amount of anxiety for the character’s situation; that said to me that I’d become really invested in her wellbeing. As a parent, part of this was being able to empathise with her situation and how I’d feel but it’s written in such a way as to pull at your anxiety for her regardless and begin to feel a real panic for where she finds herself at a couple of points in the book particularly. Further tugging at the heartstrings, I thought I’d got some of the plotlines figured out. When one of the events I expected to happen didn’t, I felt really sad! Then the ending without giving anything away kind of killed me! Despite this, it was good to have my expectations subverted and not everything be predictable. Only fairy stories finish with everything being fine in the end.
Another powerful technique was how SKaeth portrays the Kamalti. They’re seen as a wise and interesting people but we soon learn the reality is a lot different. They were absolutely infuriating and I hated them for large parts of the book. They’re pretty much the reason for all of our characters hardships and it can feel quite bleak at times – forced servitude that borders on slavery in the guise of punishment, loss, abandonment, anxiety, torture, lack of a fair trial, discrimination. They suffer through it all. Despite this, and made more so because of this, there are a lot of heartwarming close bonds and loyalty to family and friends and this is a major theme. It’s quite character driven in this respect and seeing how much the characters can endure and keep moving forward plays a major role. There is a lot of courage, hope and love to keep a light against the encroaching darkness of what our characters face.
I prefer to talk about characters I love and whilst I enjoyed the other characters in the book, they didn’t stand out in the same way that Kaemada did to me personally. She’s a particularly interesting character because of her abilities. She’s a Psion which means she has abilities of the mind. Unlike most, she has the power of telekinesis and telepathy. Most psions control only one. She can use these abilities to dreamwalk and to bond with animals; her connection to her Wolf companion, Tannevar plays an important role. Their pain is felt through one another and he is extremely useful to her, almost as an extension of self, scouting ahead and offering protection.
As well as a skill for emotion, SKaeth puts a lot of effort into fleshing out the culture of the Rinaryns and the people of Torkae – the kaetal (village) most of our characters are from. It’s really interesting to learn about them and this is sometimes done through the story and other times in the form of the excerpts that start each chapter.
I think all books worth reading, no matter how well written or in depth, need something imaginative that stands out – something unique and sometimes weird. Something that gives the book an extra degree of personality. To me, Between Starfalls fulfills this with the Angels. Basically the opposite of traditional angels in almost every way, they are ominous predatory creatures that descend at night and basically lull their targets into a defenceless state with their song before feeding on them. Once you look an angel in the eye, you’ve sealed your fate. There’s an ominous, terrifying element to this and the way the people live in acceptance but fear of these mysterious and unsettling beings.
To conclude, if you’re looking for an action-packed, breathless tour de force with blockbuster sequences, heart in mouth betrayals and big battles this isn’t the fantasy for you.
You’ll enjoy this if you are looking to read something to inspire hope amongst darkness and adversity whilst exploring a new fantasy culture with a strong focus on relationships, love and those close bonds we all need to get us through life.
Thankyou for taking the time to read, and Thankyou to SKaeth, Kriti and the WriteHive for including me in the blog tour!