This Golden Flame

Inkyard. Feb. 2021. 416p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781335080271.
Gr 8 Up–Eratia used to be powerful. Giant bronze automatons, built and controlled by Scriptorium runes, protected the archipelago of islands until 200 years ago, when the Great Lapse shut them all down. Karis is an orphan acolyte forced to work for the Scriptorium; the organization charged with restoring the automatons. Karis dreams of escaping the Scriptorium and tracking down her older brother. She gets her chance when a mishap leads her to discover and revive a human-sized automaton, Alix, with a shockingly sophisticated personality. Fleeing under the cover of night, Alix, Karis, and fellow orphan Dane begin a journey to reclaim Eratia’s past and save its future before the Scriptorium catches up to them. Victoria creates a world in which questioning history and fighting for the good of all takes center stage. Wording (such as himation, agora, and chiton) places Eratia in a fantasy version of the ancient Mediterranean (circa Hellenistic Greece) tweaked with middle-ages weaponry. The story’s foundation and plot move smoothly, and yet the climax and subsequent resolution feels disappointingly rushed. Despite this, it’s a refreshing adventure that centers overall human connection rather than specific romantic relationships. The ethnically diverse cast is led by Eratia native Karis and teddy-bear automaton Alix as the book’s narrators. Karis is ace and other LGBTQ+ characters are introduced throughout.
VERDICT This "Fullmetal Alchemist" meets Ancient Greece story is for readers seeking a unique twist in the fantasy genre.

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