Review: Updraft

cover-updraftTitle: Updraft
Author: Fran Wilde
Series: ?
Genre: Fantasy
Length: Novel
Available: September 1st


In a city of living bone rising high above the clouds, where danger hides in the wind and the ground is lost to legend, a young woman must expose a dangerous secret to save everyone she loves

Welcome to a world of wind and bone, songs and silence, betrayal and courage.

Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother’s side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city’s secretive governing body, the Singers, demand that she become one of them instead. In an attempt to save her family from greater censure, Kirit must give up her dreams to throw herself into the dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City.

As she grows in knowledge and power, she starts to uncover the depths of Spire secrets. Kirit begins to doubt her world and its unassailable Laws, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to a haunting choice, and may well change the city forever—if it isn’t destroyed outright.

Source: ARC from Tor Books via NetGalley

The world in which this story is set is incredible. A city made up of towers made from bone, which continue to grow out of a cloud-covered landscape, where monsters roam the sky, only visible in the moment when they open their mouths and devour unsuspecting prey. The humans that live there have learned to fly on wings made of silk and sinew, who sing songs of remembrance and rules, and where law breakers are weighed down with bone chips that record their crimes. It’s an incredible world that’s both detailed and vivid and incredibly easy to lose yourself in.

At the heart of it all is Kirit, a seventeen-year-old girl on the brink of earning her wings, who plans to join her famous mother as a trader and has never considered any other life for herself. Of course, fate and the Singers have other plans for her, but Kirit doesn’t go down easily. She’s an interesting heroine – defiant and headstrong, but not particularly brave, at least, not at first. There are plenty of fantasy heroines out there who will lay down their lives from the very first page to spare their family and friends the least harm, but Kirit’s a bit more stubborn than that. Or perhaps she’s just so terrified of a life with the Singers that a few reprimands aren’t enough to rouse the protector in her.

I kind of liked that about Kirit, to be honest – how stubborn she is at first. Of course, as the book progresses she grows in both courage and knowledge. In fact she proves herself to be much stronger than she first seems. It might have been nice if there had been a few things which she didn’t turn out to be so very good at, but at least we see how hard she works to achieve most of her new skills. I was also a little surprised by how easily she swallows some of the things she’s told, considering her original opinion of the Singers. I would have expected her to have been a little more cynical, especially regarding some of the people she learns important things from and the way she was raised.

The story is a little slow to start and I wish some of that slow pace had been used to explain a few mysteries of the world – the towers! I wanted to know so much more about the towers and how/why they grow, or at least their own origin myths for why they do so – but as the second section (out of three) begins the pace definitely picks up. The last section in particular is full of action, making this book very hard to put down the further into it you get.

Okay, if I’m honest, there were a few twists that didn’t surprise me as much as I think they were supposed to, and some aspects of the ending felt a bit too neat or highly convenient to me. Not to mention the politics, which at one time seemed so thoroughly knotted and complicated, turned out to be less intricate than I’d hoped. Nor am I convinced that out of all the possible people who might come out as a leader, that would really be the final choice. I also wish that perhaps a few other characters had been given a chance at the POV, because there are moments where their stories are a lot more interesting than what Kirit is up to. In fact some of the secondary characters could have done with a bit more development to truly fill in the depth of their activities.

Overall, though, this is a good, imaginative fantasy tale with a classic coming of age theme mixed in with tradition, politics and flying – so much flying! The city is incredible, the characters are compelling enough to make things interesting and the action towards the end is gripping. I really enjoyed it and I would definitely like to see more from both this setting and this author.

Updraft is out September 1st!
Visit Fran Wilde for more details.


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