The Phoenix Empress by K. Arsenault Rivera

A quick look

Book 2 in the Their Bright Ascendancy series, starts with Barsalai Shefali finding her way back to her wife’s side after eight years away. Previously exiled, she has spent this time doing whatever was necessary to get back. She doesn’t find the wife she left; Her wife, now Empress, spends more time drunk than sober, she screams herself awake every night and she seems to have forgotten the plans they had made to help their people.

The phoenix empressThe Phoenix Empress switches between two points of view, but the two points of view are told in different tenses. Majority of the story comes from Shizuka telling Barsalai about her life while she was away. She is laying in bed talking to her, but it feels a bit weird. She often reminisces about their years together as children and the tone of her story telling doesn’t change when she switches back to describing the war. It all bleeds into one big long ramble. I found it very hard not to skim read past big chunks of it. At one point I skipped over five or six pages of Shizuka rambling about the march to war and I didn’t seem to miss anything. While the characters themselves were somewhat interesting, I was so bored. Nothing actually happens in the book until over 75% in and even then it’s still things that have happened in the past. Also there was a lot of repetition when Shizuka was talking about stressful things, I think it was to show how hard it was for her to discuss it, but if you cut it all out, the book would have been over a lot quicker.

One of the best moments in this book was when the two women realised that they couldn’t just have eight years apart and then jump back into a relationship that was going to be exactly the same. They had to allow for the others experiences and the way they have shaped them, they had to be understanding and patient. They couldn’t just ignore these things, they had to sit down and have an actual conversation. This concept was given barely a page. Also eight years apart and no sex when they get back together. That just sounds odd.

I honestly love a great character driven story, this was just not written in a style that let the characters shine. I feel like they were smothered.

I received this from the publisher via NetGalley  in exchange for an honest review.

Title – The Phoenix Empress
Author – K. Arsenault Rivera
Publisher – Tor Books
Release date – 9 October 2018

Get your own copy – Amazon

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