Title: Heir to the Sky
Author: Amanda Sun
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
As heir to a kingdom of floating continents, Kali has spent her life bound by limits—by her duties as a member of the royal family; by a forced betrothal to the son of a nobleman; and by the edge of the only world she's ever known—a small island hovering above a monster-ridden earth, long since uninhabited by humans. She is the Eternal Flame of Hope for what's left of mankind, the wick and the wax burning in service for her people, and for their revered Phoenix, whose magic keeps them aloft. When Kali falls off the edge of her kingdom and miraculously survives, she is shocked to discover there are still humans on the earth. Determined to get home, Kali entrusts a rugged monster-hunter named Griffin to guide her across a world overrun by chimera, storm dragons, basilisks, and other terrifying beasts. But the more time she spends on earth, the more dark truths she begins to uncover about her home in the sky, and the more resolute she is to start burning for herself.
Heir to the Sky is a fantastical look at an isolated kingdom and the secrets that some of its inhabitants keep, at how far some will go to be in control, and how much a girl will fight back in order to save those she cares about. The earth below is dangerous, overrun by deadly, sometimes poisonous monsters, and Kali will have to learn to fight back if she wants to make it back up into the sky.
Kali is a dreamer. She wants more from her privileged life, wants to make her own decisions, wants to be more than a symbol for the people of Ashra and the other islands. She wants to know more about the earth. She wants control of her life. But she's rather naive, as we see when she falls from the sky, when she wakes up to a rather harsh reality. The earth is inhabited by dangerous creatures, creatures full of sharp teeth, sharper claws, and the occasional deadly poison. Kali struggles to survive until she discovers a secret kept from those above: there are humans alive on the surface.
I like the idea of the floating islands, of a collection of islands separated from the earth beneath it and the legend around its creation. From Ashra, Kali looks down and daydreams about what she should find, what she would want to visit if she ever made it down there. To her, it's a dream. To Griffin it's a place full of danger and challenge, the need to always keep watch, to keep an eye out for dragons or basilisks or other creatures that are hungry for the taste of meat. It's a place to be wary of, to always have a blade ready, the surviving humans have learned hard lessons, they either stay hidden or they learn to fight back
I found this intriguing, an adventurous standalone fantasy full of danger and secrets. Kali learns some harsh lessons after she falls, learns some hard truths about how the islands actually rose up into the sky, and nearly dies a few times. But she keeps on going. She's determined to know, to share the truth, to demand answers to her questions, even if those questions make her a threat. Although she hasn't been down on the earth for long, it shows her that she has to be tough, that she has the strength to fight back. Maybe the beginning was a little slow but I gladly kept on reading, curious as to the truth behind the islands in the sky and the rumours of unrest and rebellion.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Harlequin Teen through NetGalley.)