Cover Image: Hunted by the Sky

Hunted by the Sky

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Member Reviews

This book was fantastic! The world building, mythology, romance, complex characters all what you want in your fantasy novels. If you love a good medieval fantasy and strong female heroine do yourself a favor and pick this up!

Thank you to the Publisher and Netgalley for the advanced e-reader copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

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I was unfortunately not engaged by this book. I usually give a new book 50 or so pages - if I haven't been hooked by then, I usually won't ever be.

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Rating: 3/5 Star-shaped birthmarks

Format: ebook. I’d like to thank the author and Macmillan Publishing Group for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review!

To sum up:
Gul is a girl born with a star-shaped birthmark on her arm - a birthmark that has been foretold to mark the one destined to bring the end of the King’s reign. When Gul’s parents are murdered, she vows to get revenge for their deaths. Her journey places her in the path of Cavas, a non-maji who is focused on taking care of his ill father, and the two become inextricably linked. Cavas helps her gain access to the King’s court where she can plot her revenge, but the longer she is there, the more she realizes she has to lose.

What I enjoyed:
I really enjoyed the lush world of this book. It is inspired by medieval India and the descriptions of everything from the clothes to the food they ate were wonderfully detailed. I could definitely get lost in this world for a while! The characters were pretty interesting too. The two main characters have interesting secrets and backstories which give them purpose and tension which I found compelling. The magic in this world was pretty interesting too although I didn’t really understand its full scope.

What was meh:
The plot and pacing were pretty off for me in this one. The decisions made that moved the characters forward felt oddly stilted and arbitrary for some reason, which made me feel really disconnected from the character’s motives, feelings, and fates. While I was interested in how the prophecy would play out, I didn’t feel as emotionally invested in the plot or characters as I would have liked.

Overall, I thought this was a really cool perspective and world for a YA fantasy story, but there was something lacking in the plotting for me, and I probably won’t read the sequel.

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Purchased this YA/middle grade novel for my middle school library. Superb character development, elegant world building, and compelling plotting.

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The author's note referenced that Rani Laxmi Bai (Rani of Jhansi) and The Gulabi Gang were inspirations for this fantasy and that was so apparent to me! Those two references are immediately what I thought of as I've been reading on both for my own research/writing as well.

I thought this was a really fresh fantasy story I hadn't heard before and I greatly appreciated the diversity and representation of this dream/spirit world and am looking forward to Book 2 in the series! The two main characters, Gul and Cavas, are strong and well-developed!

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Dnf at 33%. While I enjoyed certain fantasy elements of the story, the writing felt a bit dry and awkward in places.

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Great story and loved the slight romance. Really enjoyed the characters and how the plot moved and how the characters changed throughout the book. I would read this author again.

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I've tried to read this book several times over the past 5 months and don't seem to get past a few pages before giving up and picking up a different book. I plan on returning to it at a later date and seeing if maybe I just wasn't in the right mood or frame of mind to read it. The synopsis had me hooked when I first saw it, so I don't know why this one isn't working for me.

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Magical, suspenseful, powerful! This story will keep the young reader engaged and on the edge of their seat. There's no doubt that Gul will be the one everyone wants to be, and Bhathena knows how to build a world for the fantasy lover.

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What a wild ride this book is! There are so many books based in mythology that have come out in the last few years, but Indian and Persian mythology isn't as widely known about as other cultures for many of us. But this story was riveting, and I found myself drawn in immediately and learning so much in the process. This is a tantalizing story of revenge and love, though I have to admit the love story wasn't quite as solid as I had hoped for. Other than that, Gul is an intriguing character, and I loved her grit and resilience, even if she did sometimes come across as a little too domineering. Cavas drew me in, and I wanted to get to know his character more. I just wish the two of them weren't so melodramatic with each other at times. The sequel for this one will be well-anticipated!

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Loved this medieval India inspired fantasy! It's like nothing I've ever read before! I admit, it did take a little while for me to really get into the story (about 70 pages or so), but any fantasy with world building tends to be like that. I definitely got some Jasmine and Aladdin vibes from the story as well, but also there was just something unique about the storytelling, weaving Indian culture and fantastical elements into a wonderfully enchanting story! I am all about Gul and Cavas <3<3<3. 4/5 stars and will definitely pick up Book 2!

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This is the kind of YA story in which you can find yourself immersed while you’re still learning about the world in which the story exists. The author writes a beautiful story about a young woman who is in danger merely for being born with a birthmark in a world of magic, treacherous royals, and obscure allies. Gol pursues vengeance for her parents’ deaths by hoping to harness the chaotic and dangerous death magic to assassinate the king who caused so much misfortune to families and non-magic users within the kingdom. When unexpected bonds, new loyalties, and scheming warriors make their debut, Gul and her few friends will face challenges like no other has experienced in the kingdom of Ambar.

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A fantastic new YA fantasy, set in a realm based on medieval India, inspired by Indian and Persian folklore. Well-written, strong female characters; this book will appeal to fans of Tomi Adeyemi and Emily R. King. Highly recommended read!

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**I received this book from netgalley in exchange for a review**

DNF at 50%

This was a HIGHLY anticipated release for me, and I tried really hard to get into it, but ultimately it just was not for me.

Early on in the book, there was a time jump of several years. It wasn't explained well-enough at the start that this jump occurred, so I was left feeling confused for a bit.

This entire book is so cliché and formulaic, it was painful. Epically powerful prophecized magical-savior-girl with a birthmark? Oh my...

The sisterhood of the golden lotus sounded so awesome, for about five seconds. They seemed to be about sisterhood and girl power, but it seemed more like stockholm syndrome to me. <spoiler>After Gul spends a night in the city, they found a map rummaging through her sheets (???) and then put her in shackles? Okay is this a sisterhood or a prison? She is then forced to do unpleasant chores and train her magic with an instructor for MONTHS. The instructor is incredibly cruel and is emotionally/ psychologically/ physically abusive. Gul is shocked with magical shackles under the guise of "training", but this is just abuse derived from the instructor's jealousy (and internalized misogyny?). I spent this entire part of the book wondering why in the world Gul ever stayed with these woman at all. SISTERHOOD WHERE?! It just gets worse from where when the text implies that the reader should forgive this toxic behavior because the abuser experienced extreme trauma in their own life. It is horrific that this woman went through an awful ordeal, but this does not excuse her turning into an abuser in her own right.</spoiler> The training montage itself goes on for far too long. I did not need (or want) four chapters of Gul being called pathetic/useless and being physically shocked by her SHACKLES if she performs inadequately. All the while, the "instructor" refuses to actually INSTRUCT her beyond "try harder!", "more!", "concentrate!". Ma'am, maybe if you stopped beating and berating her between rounds, Gul's concentration would be a bit better.

I waited with baited breath to figure out what <spoiler>Amira</spoiler> did that the girls in the <spoiler><s>prison</s></spoiler> sisterhood were talking about. Oh yes, of course! Time to villainize sex work. I don't know why I was at all surprised, because everything else in the text thus far has pointed at careless misogyny. I am, frankly, over seeing casual sexism in fantasy settings. There's magic in this world, anything can go, but yet authors still feel the need to use this plot. Pick something else, pleasepleaseplease.

<spoiler>Ahh yes, time to sell oneself into slavery to get revenge... Wait, what?!??</spoiler>

The magic system in this world seems like it could be really interesting, if I could understand any of it. We see a few examples of how certain magi use their abilities, but the use is very vague. I don't understand limitations or potential. <spoiler>This makes the endless training montage feel off. Amira has a seemingly endless well of power. Gul protects herself by... thinking the word protect? But Amira is using her magic with her hands? I... I don't understand how any of this works.</spoiler>

From a purely technical standpoint, I found myself wanting more descriptions about character's physical appearances, as well as more setting details. I wanted to know more about the sights, the sounds, the smells! There just wasn't enough for me to build a picture in my head.

I don't have a good picture of the world in my head, and I don't understand how the magic system works. For me, these are the two most critical things in high fantasy. This book just didn't do it for me.

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As an #ownvoices reviewer can I take a moment to cry about just how happy it makes me to see an Indian inspired fantasy by an #ownvoices author in a mainstream media. And it has a brown girl on the cover too and I'll just be sitting over there fawning over this book.

Once there was Svapnalok divided into four kingdoms Ambar, Prithvi, Jwala, and Samudra, each standing for one of the elements of nature - sky, earth, fire and water. Once they used to be united and stood beside each other as friends would. But each Kingdom was corrupted in their own way, none more than Ambar. Now a tyrant rules Ambar and the other 3 kingdoms wouldn't dare to go against him. But the King of Ambar is rattled by the prophecy of the Star warrior and he has every girl with a star like or even a non star like birthmark hunted mercilessly, killing entire families to protect himself.

Gul hides her birthmark and after the loss of her parents, finds solace in a group of warrior females. She is driven by revenge against the man who ordered the death of her parents but the fact that her magic is so temperamental makes things much harder for her. Cavas is a non magi boy and hence suffers having to live in the worst part of the city and be called a dirt licker by those with magic. He harbors a secret that could get him killed. He has been leaking palace secrets to a mysterious man in exchange for money; money that he needs for his sick father's medicine.

While both of them sometimes really annoyed me with their decisions, I understood their confusions. The romance wasn't my favourite but I still liked it. I know that makes NO SENSE so I'll try to explain. I felt the romance came together in a kind of insta-love manner BUT there was still a lot of chemistry? There was banter, not being sure of their feelings and a palpable attraction so I didn't mind it too much.

i also enjoyed getting to know the secondary characters especially Juhi, Amira, and Amar. And the ending has left me feeling very intrigued about other characters too. I liked that they all had a story and a life that did not have much to do with the protagonists. The secondary characters were their own people and I definitely appreciate that!

The diversity. I could scream with joy about the amazing representation in this book. I recognized myself in how the characters looked, the clothes they wore and the food they ate. Also I so badly want the chandaramas mentioned in the book! (moon shaped filigreed dough foiled with gold and garnished with honeyweed seeds). The world is inspired by medieval India and Persian mythology and I loved how within the book there are all kinds of diverse elements. Some characters pray to the sky goddess and some to Sant Javer, some to Prophet Zaal and there are also those who are atheists. They have all heard different stories and myths as a child and have experienced a variety of cultures. There was also casual queer representation and I hope we see more of that in the forefront with the sequel.

While I had some issues with the pacing, this book sets up the scene for a much more complex sequel I feel. A lot happened towards the end and so much was revealed! I have a few guesses and I can't wait to read the second book to find out if I guessed right!

~Hunted by the Sky is an amazing debut with badass females, Indian & Persian mythology, beautiful writing and SO MUCH DIVERSITY! Definitely recommended! ~

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This was such a beautifully developed story. I loved the setting and the characters so much! The writing style of the author reminded me of Renee Adhieh so if you enjoy her books I would definitely recommend this.

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When Gul sees her parents dying in the hands of Major Shayla, she makes it her life's mission to kill King Lohar, whose orders are to kill any girl born with a star-shaped birthmark. Her birthmark makes her life extremely vulnerable in the Kingdom of Ambar, as it has been prophecized that a girl born with a star-mark will bring the King down. In order to save her life she flees from the Star Warriors and is soon taken into refuge by the Sisters of the Golden Lotus.

A couple of years later, she comes across Cavas, a mere stable-boy in the palace. Neither of them know that their passionate encounter will bind their lives forever. Even though Cavas is reluctant, he helps Gul in carrying out her mission. Will they be successful? Do they fall in love? Grab your copy to read this stunning fantasy fiction.

This book legit made me feel butterflies in my stomach. The slow burn romance, the enemies to lovers trope, is everything! Even though the romance hasn't bloomed properly yet, it's definitely going to on the coming book in the series, and I just can't wait for the next book to come!

Tanaz Bhatena has stayed true to the nuances of the Indian/Persian themes in the novel. The culture and traditions very familiar to our world. Though it took almost half of the book to complete the world-building in this fantasy fiction, once you get to know about the whole setting, the plot flows smoothly.

I loved how the the narration goes back and forth from Gul's to Cavas' perspective. Both the characters have been given such excellent backstories that their character development arc gives me joy. Not to mention, the way they both dismiss or accept their feelings for each other. It make my heart thrive. Not only Gul and Cavas, even the secondary characters get their backstories and each of them are unique and original, and in turn help Gul's and Cavas' character develop.

You guys who are absolutely suckers for romance fantasy, must pick up this book. Even though the romance aspect of the book is lesser than the seeking revenge aspect, it's definitely going to develop more in the next book.

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Loved it! A bit slow going at first, but Hunted by the Sky is so gorgeously written and atmospheric you can't help but keep going. Loved the world inspired by medieval India - unfortunately, being from rural Oregon, they don't really teach us anything about medieval India, so I did have to look certain things up as I went along...and then I discovered the glossary at the end of the book and felt like a fool. Either way: Hunted by the Sky is an exciting start to a new series, and I can't wait to read more. Not just of this series, but about Indian history as well, seriously, there are some pretty massive gaps in my education that I need to fill in. I'm a grown-ass adult, I should know more about the world I live in.

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Hunted by the Sky is one of the top 5 books I have read in 2020 out of 50 so far. The story switches between Gul and Cavas in a world based on myth. Gul's family has been murdered trying to protect her because of the star-shaped mark on her arm. There is a prophecy out saying that the king will fall to a woman with this mark. Gul spends a majority of the book trying to figure out if she is this woman from the prophecy and trying to get revenge for her family.

As soon as I read the ending, I was in shock. What a cliffhanger! I cannot wait for book two. I really want to see how the relationship between Gul and Cavas grows as they continue to fight for what they believe in. I loved the worldbuilding and the relationships formed throughout.

As an educator, I definitely want to figure out how to put this beautiful world into my classroom and curriculum.

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The cover is stunning and I expected to love this book but sadly I didn’t. The writing is jarring and threw me every few sentences. I couldn’t get into the story at all.

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