Cover Image: A River of Golden Bones

A River of Golden Bones

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Ugh i loved this queer story! Can’t wait to read more by this author. I found this title easy and enjoyable to read. It was my first book by the author, and I plan to read so much more.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this (late) review! I read the High Mountain Court and thoroughly enjoyed it, and honestly I thought this was going to be like that book: A solid 4 stars and enjoyable. This was so much more than that though! It was a new and fun twist on the fated mates trope that I hadnt seen before. I also loved the journey of self discovery that Calla went on throughout the book, finding who she wanted to be without being the shadow of her sister. Learning about her ancestors, her family, and everything about the Wolves that she wanted to change made me want to fight with her. Im also INCREDIBLY excited for a second chance Sadie and Navin romance, but I'm curious where this will go from here, and if itll be like the Okrith series with a different couple but the same world, or if itll continue following Calla and Grae. Either way, Ill absolutely be reading the next book!

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I really, really wanted to love this book, especially because queer romantasy has me in a chokehold right now. I feel like there's far from enough of it, and a special scarcity of romantasy with genderqueer/nonbinary/trans leads. So I was delighted to hear about a Sleeping Beauty retelling with werewolves, spicy romance, and a nonbinary MC whose journey to find comfort in their own skin is central to the plot.

For the large part, A River of Golden Bones ticks those boxes. Twenty year old Briar and Calla are twins, but Calla has always been in their sister's shadow. Briar is the princess who will unite kingdoms by marrying Calla's childhood friend and prince, Graemon. But Briar never saw herself marrying a man, and Calla has eyes for Grae.

When it turns out that Calla and her female bodyguard, Maez, are fated mates, and Calla and Grae also are, it sets in motion an upheaval of the throne and a quest. On this quest, Calla discovers that girlhood always felt uncomfortable for them because they are NOT a girl. They are nonbinary, and this is beautiful and freeing. Oh, and pretty much everyone is a werewolf.

For representation, I love this book and I want to shove it at everyone. We NEED more nonbinary leads, especially in New Adult, which is a largely cishet genre still. My main disappointment with AROGB, though, is that Calla's identity kind of felt...sidelined? When Calla is with Grae, they haven't come out yet, so the spice reads as largely cishet spice. Their romance, too, is essentially cishet through most of the book. I also wish that Calla's journey had felt more central. There are so many parallels to draw between a world in which being a wolf is forbidden and a largely-binary world where being nonbinary is unthinkable, and yet these parallels weren't explored. The writing, too, didn't seem to help. There wasn't a ton of internality on Calla. By the end, I still couldn't really get a read on who they were and what they wanted. Other than Grae. Boy oh boy, did they want Grae.

I think the world and story has a ton of promise, and I probably will pick up Book 2. AROGB seemed to struggle with some pacing issues--a lot of info dumping in the beginning, a shockingly quick fated mates situation, and a meandering middle--but it ended very strongly and with a lot of promise for a sequel. I've heard this is a trilogy and I am excited to see where it develops, especially because wolf shifters really haven't had their moment yet, have they?

I think it's kind of the ACOTAR syndrome: stick it out through Book 1 for those beautiful glimmers (Sadie! Briar and Maez! That twist with villain, Sawyn, at the end!) and then watch the series soar.

Many thanks to NetGalley, HarperCollins, and A.K. Mulford for giving me this e-ARC in exchange for my honest review!

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This was a beautiful romantasy book with great queer representation and an interesting plotline. was a face paced, easy read that i thoroughly enjoyed and read in one setting. I don't think there is anything AK Mulford could write that I would NOT read.

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This is a great read. The writing is easy to follow and you will zoom through it! I was enticed within the first couple of pages. There’s wolves, suspense, magic, humor, and so much more! If you’re looking for an easy and exciting next fantasy read then this is the one for you!

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Overall Rating - ⭐⭐⭐
Spice - 🌶️🌶️
World Building - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Character Development - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content Labels/Warnings - Gender fluid/Non Binary rep, lesbian rep, Exploring gender, Found family, Sign language, Nonverbal rep. Death, murder, misogyny, race superiority.

Overall Thoughts; This has made my very aware I'm not at all interest in werewolf books, so take this whole review with a grain of salt. Now, I did pick this up because it's AK Mulford and I LOVE the Okirth novels, and I don't dislike this one, it's just not my style. That being said, it has a lot of redeeming qualities and plot lines that I think really make this book. If you like werewolves, get it. If you like social justice stuff (most of the reason I liked it still), get it. If you aren't sold on either of those points, this one might not be for you. Overall it's good. It's not the first Mulford book I'd recommend, but it's good.

Plot; The plot is pretty standard. Lost princess, has to fight for thrown back. They have a soul mate. The overall plot is not what makes this book, it's the subplot lines. The entirety of the wagon plotlines, flawless. I'd read just about that wagon no questions asked. Calla needing to find herself after getting out of her sisters shadow? Great, really enjoyable plot line. The thing that threw me a bit was that I really didn't care for the main plot line. The subplots definitely carried this book for me.

Characters; The characters weren't bad, most of them were actually quite enjoyable. Some were a little slow, like Calla took a while to pick up, but overall they were good. Some seemed to move a little TOO quick (looking at you Sadie) but they all head a growth line (even if some were at a 20° angle and some were at an 85° angle) and it made most of the characters matter more to me.

Romance; The romance was good, generally. I enjoy a good friends to lovers, it's a nice, it's cute. It feels a little animalistic for me, and not always at the right times, which made me care less and in the beginning kind of roll my eyes a bit over it, but there are worse things. But yeah the beginning I was very over it.

Writing; I am conflicted. Because there were fairly long stretches where I felt like I was reading a YA book. Lots of repetitive language, repetitive thought processes, just felt like reading the same thing a lot. It got better the farther along the plot went, but yeah. The only other thing I felt iffy about is the pacing. The beginning takes a good percentage of the book, but the main conflict lasts for like, 1/4 of what the beginning is. And considering the repetitiveness of the beginning, it just felt long and it wasn't my favourite. Probably half way through it felt like the other Mulford books that I've read and enjoyed.

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Great storyline, the author write a great book. Thank you for the gifted copy in exchange for a fair reivew.

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Twins Calla and Briar have spent their life in hiding. As the last remaining royals of their kingdom, they must find a way to banish the evil sorceress from their lands and reclaim the Golden Court. Briar is set to marry the son of their only ally and Calla’s childhood best friend, Prince Grae. But all of their plans go astray when the sorceress returns and casts a sleeping curse on Briar. Calla, always considered the spare twin, becomes their only hope.

A River of Golden Bones is a Sleeping Beauty reimaging with wolf shifters, gender exploration, and lots of spice. A few aspects of the plot were predictable, but overall, there were enough moments that caught me by surprise to keep me engaged with the story.

Calla is an easy main character to relate to and her relationship with Grae is so nice. I loved seeing how it developed throughout the book. The side characters were done so well, creating a perfect found family vibe. I cannot wait to rejoin them all in the next book!

Thank you to NetGalley, Avon and Harper Voyager, and A.K. Mulford for the advanced copy of A River of Golden Bones in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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What a pleasant surprise!

A.K Mulford writes so seamlessly. Everything flowed so well together I never once was thrown out of the story. To begin. I didn’t expect a sleeping beauty retelling that collided with the shifter/paranormal world. Then, she adds betrayal, romance, action, AND representation? Had me hooked from page one!

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This story focuses on Calla, the secret twin of Briar (the future princess of an ally werewolf clan). Calla must defeat an evil sorceress in order to save their sister from an old curse.
Meanwhile, they being to question their identity, who they really outside of their pack's strict rules, as well as trying to survive their growing attraction for their sisters fiancé.
I really enjoyed this novel! It's a coming of age story about finding yourself and defying expectations, complete with a super exciting plot and an incredible romance!

TW: death; murder; gore; violence; torture; child abuse; kidnapping; death in childbirth; trauma and PTSD.

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This may be a bit premature but this is likely to be one of my top reads of the year. I have been trying to chase the high this book gave me and am currently on a fantasy romance kick.

What I love about AK Mulford’s books is how well they write the main AND side characters. Not only do I care about the main couple, but I am heavily invested in those around them. My only complaint when it came to this book was that there are not more in the series yet.

From the beginning you know that Calla and Grae are going to end up together, but the journey they go on to get to that place was amazing. Here are a few things in particular that stood out to me:

- Calla’s journey and struggle with gender. I figured it would be a part of the plot when they kept mentioning how they did not feel right in dresses and with roles expected of their sister as a queen. This was probably the first book I read where the main character wears currently going through that journey throughout the book, and I would love to see or know about more books like that.
- The staring sibling bond between Calla and Briar. Calla went on a long and dangerous trek in order to save the kingdom but mainly their sister. As someone that had a strong bond with a sibling, I can relate to how Calla felt.
- THE ENDING?? I always go into a book with a war or rebellion plot knowing that someone was going to die, but that one HURT. Mulford really had me in tears with that one. (I forgive you, though.)

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This feels like it's pulling itself in 3 different directions. There's the long lost princess fairy-tale arc, the Wolf Shifter Romance arc, and the Howl's Moving Castle arc. It's taking three sorts of stories and... not blending them successfully.

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I'm pretty sure that A.K. could write down a recipe on a soiled napkin, and I would still devour it. This book, much like A.K.s other series, I could not put down. The characters and the world are written so darn well that I feel like I'm there right beside the main characters.

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AK Mulford did it again. They have put a new spin on Sleeping Beauty and added🌶🌶 and shifters. Fated mate is slowly becoming a new fave trope and love it.

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This book was good. At first when I started I was a little put off because I’m not really interested in stories about wolves, especially shifter romance, but I can say that this one was decent!

The romance didn’t take away from the plot, and you get little snippets of Grae and Calla throughout the story that leave you yearning for more from them. Fated mates is always such a good trope, and I love the plot twist that was thrown in that involved this trope.

Not only did I enjoy Calla and Grae, but all the side characters that we meet, especially our beloved traveling musicians in Galen den’ Mora. Discovering Galen den’ Mora not only saved the life of Calla and so many others, but it also helped Calla discover who she is.

Now I will say, this story was very slow and boring at times. I found myself not interested in reading it so it took me about a month to get through, but I wanted to know what happened in the end.

Overall, a solid journey of self-discovery, queer identity, romance, and adventure!

Summary:
- shifter romance (wolves)
- fated mates
- childhood friends to lovers
- sleeping beauty re-imagining
- slow burn
- LQBTQIA+ rep
- royalty
- found family

Thank you to A.K. Mulford, NetGalley, and Harper Voyager for the eARC.

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A River of Golden Bones:⁣

Thank you @harpervoyagerus for my gifted copy!⁣

I thought this was a YA fantasy. Boy, was I wrong when they started talking about relations. I had to rewind the audio to make sure I heard correctly. 😭 The spice was really random in my opinion, and still didn’t convince me of their relationship. The pacing did lull in some parts of the story, so I did have to trudge through this book. Thankfully, it’s book 1 in the series, so the foundation has been lain and we’re ready to dive in!⁣

I really liked Calla and Briar, the sisters. The Sleeping Beauty aspect was really well done, and I loved the link between the two. I also am a sucker for a shifting wolf and fated mates, so this was perfect. ⁣

I don’t really know how I feel about Grae. I’m kind of a little salty of how he acted towards King Nero and he really gave me no connection with our MC. I hope he really grows into his character arc for the next book in the series. ⁣

Overall, this was one that I’m curious to see how book 2 will go, and will definitely give it a shot.⁣

Out now.⁣

QOTD: How was your Monday?

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A River of Golden Bones was a fun twist on the Sleeping Beauty fairytale. There was enough story change, and detailed politicking added to the narrative to make this feel fresh. I enjoyed reading this book and thought it was worth reading, despite being your standard YA romantasy. I give this a solid 3/5 stars, and I think many readers would enjoy this story.

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Loved this!
I enjoyed the characters and how much thought the author clearly put into making it diverse and inclusive.
The world and storyline was easy read and magical, and the romance kept me hooked!

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Tropes:
Fated Mates
Found Family
Queer Rep
Steammm

I really enjoyed this reimagining.
I'm a sucker for fairytales and romance! I am so excited to see where this story goes!
And am so happy to see werewolves are making a come back in books! And this cover! Omg it's gorgeous,

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I absolutely adored this book. I found A.K. Mulford back in 2021 as a giveaway on Tiktok, and they have become a automatic read ever since.

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