Guys. GUYS. Why don’t you have this book yet? There can be no excuse now that it’s out in the world. This is a tale overflowing with magic and revenge and girls taking the world into their hands, and I couldn’t get enough of it! I was lucky enough to read this early for the blog tour, and for that I must thank Penguin Teen and FFBC Tours!
HUNTED BY THE SKY
by Tanaz Bhathena
384 pages | Published June 23rd 2020 | Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ARC Courtesy of Penguin Teen and FFBC
Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge.
Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl–Gul–in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance–and discovers a magic he never expected to find.
Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort . . . a world with secrets deadlier than their own. Exploring identity, class struggles, and high-stakes romance, Hunted by the Sky is a gripping adventure set in a world inspired by medieval India.
This is the second medieval Indian fantasy series I’ve started reading this year, and I have no intention of letting HUNTED BY THE SKY be the last. To be fair, this one is Indian with a mix of Persian in the mythology, which I thought gave this world a very unique feel. In this story, girls are kidnapped from their families if they have a mark in the shape of a star. All because of a prophecy that says the girl who bears this mark will be the end of the king. And the Sisters of the Golden Lotus, a female rebellion group with some interesting connections, believe that Gul, the girl starring on that gorgeous cover, is the chosen one. Now, hang on, don’t go walking away because you think you’re tired of that trope. Don’t go, because you haven’t seen what this book does with it. And it does not disappoint! I was so wrapped up in the story that I didn’t even realize that was the trope until writing this review.
People in this world are divided by whether or not they have magic. Magi and non-magi. As you might have guessed, one of these is more valued than the other. Those without magic are shoved into tenements, which are essentially slums where they all struggle to get by. Over the years they have been stripped of many rights, such as education. Magi, on the other hand, are not always much better. Yes, they’re the ruling class, but some magi still find themselves forced to sell their services at the flesh market for the opportunity to work. I loved the variety of magic in this world. Some people can whisper slash control animals, others can suss out the truth with a touch, wipe memories, conjure water and fire, and so on.
Now, we get a taste of either side of this world. The magi and the non-magi. Girl and boy. Gul and Cavas.
Gul is introduced to us by watching her parents’ murder by Sky Warriors hunting her. All on account of her star mark. When she is taken in by the Golden Lotus rebels, Gul spends the next two years plotting her revenge on the Major and the King who took her family from her. But there’s a tiny problem in that she has no idea how to work her magic. It never showed like other magus children’s and she struggles with figuring it out. She does have the ability to whisper to animals, which plays nicely into her character. I really liked Gul. She is a fierce young woman who knows what she needs to do and will do it, come hell or high water. I have no choice but to admire.
Cavas is a non-magus who works in the palace stables. But that is only his day job. His other task is sharing palace information with a mysterious stranger in return for money to buy his father medicine. Together, they live in the tenements I mentioned earlier, and Cavas’ father has contracted tenement illness. This lives him sick and weak, leaving Cavas to do what he must to keep him alive. I didn’t like Cavas as much as I did Gul, but he’s impossible to not like. He has a big heart and often thinks more about others than himself. When it suits him that is. Magi aren’t too high on his list.
Which makes the relationship between Cavas and Gul so entertaining at times. Neither of them seems to like the other, but they are drawn together by what could best be described as fate. And when you consider how they meet? Wowee, it was inevitable. There is a grudging agreement on Cavas’ side to help Gul get into the palace so she can enact her plans of revenge, and what transforms between them was really sweet.
Speaking of wowee, there were a lot of WOW moments throughout this story. The plot is surprisingly unpredictable. I thought I had it pegged a few times, and I love when I’m proven wrong. The events once in the palace, the ending, didn’t see any of it coming. Now, while I really did enjoy this book—I finished the last half in one day and definitely see myself re-reading this in future—I did struggle to follow along sometimes. I don’t know if I just wasn’t paying attention or things weren’t explained in a way that clicked for me, but there were a few people and a few action scenes I had troubling remembering or understanding. And of course, with how action-packed this book is, you miss one thing, it makes a few things confusing after.
I really did love this book, and cannot wait to see what the sequel will hold!
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Open to US/CAN residents June 23 – July 7, 2020
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tanaz Bhathena writes books for young adults. Her sophomore novel, The Beauty of the Moment, won the Nautilus Award for Young Adult Fiction and has also been nominated for the Ontario Library Association’s White Pine Award. Her acclaimed debut, A Girl Like That, was named a Best Book of the Year by numerous outlets including The Globe and Mail, Seventeen, and The Times of India. Her latest book, Hunted by the Sky, (releasing June 23 2020) is the first of a YA fantasy duology set in a world inspired by medieval India. Her short stories have appeared in various publications including The Hindu, Blackbird, Witness, and Room.
Born in India and raised in Saudi Arabia and Canada, Tanaz lives in Mississauga, Ontario, with her family.
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