Member Reviews

Apparently this author is another TikTok sensation, though that's not how I came across this book. I found it while browsing titles on NetGalley to read while breastfeeding and/or trying to get my son to sleep. Honestly, NetGalley has been a huge lifesaver for this bookworm momma, but that's not the point here. The reason I picked up this book was because, a) the cover looked super cool, and b) the synopsis read like it was going to be a reimagining of Sleeping Beauty. Spoiler alert: it's not. And I'm almost upset about that. Don't get me wrong, the story was actually pretty good and I plowed through it in just a few days. I appreciated the complexity of the themes and the action and adventure of it all, but as much as I wanted to love it, I was sorely disappointed in the writing as a whole.

For a book that's listed as an adult fantasy the writing is rudimentary and, frankly, childish. It reads like a YA fantasy, or even a middle grade book. That's not a bad thing if you're writing specifically for that audience, but this book is definitely not for kids. There seemed, to me, a huge inconsistency between the first and second halves of the book. This is very much the kind of book I would have picked up in the 8th or 9th grade, and would have mortified my mother to know I was reading. The first half of the novel seems totally fine, but then all of a sudden there are multiple sex scenes seemingly out of nowhere, and rife adult language. Now, as a parent, I'd probably still let my kid read this if he wanted to, with the understanding that this is fiction, and he could come to me with any questions, but that's just the kind of parent I am choosing to be. I know many parents who would absolutely not want their teenager reading something like this. And that's fine too. This is just a content warning. Though, theoretically, one wouldn't find this book in a section at a bookstore or library where their teenager was browsing. Anyway, my point is, it's a really low reading level with really grown up content.

Speaking of the content, I will say I am grateful for the exploration of gender identity as depicted in this book. This is why I'm a bit disappointed in the book in general, because I absolutely love the idea that more writers are exploring LGBTQIA+ themes and identities. I wanted to love this book, because the story had great potential, but the characters are pretty one note and tropey. The best part of this book was Ora, and they're not even the main character. They're the most thought out and well developed part of the story, and their place in the narrative is pivotal. Calla, the actual main character is built on the insecurities of a teenager. I suppose one could argue that they're only 20, so of course they're coming to a point where they're just figuring out their place in the world, but again, that's why this book reads like a YA fantasy novel and not the epic it seems to be aiming for.

Another thing that irks me about a fantasy book is when an author comes up with new mythological beasts or creatures and doesn't provide some sort of glossary about them, or, at the very least, weave some of the lore into the beginning of the story. This author just dropped several different creatures (I can think of three off the top of my head) into the beginning of the book, made reference to them throughout, but didn't explain what any of them were until the last few chapters when the characters actually encountered them. Now, this isn't the first book Mulford has ever written, so I don't know if maybe these monsters exist in some of her other works, and are more fleshed out in lore there, but I came into this book blind, as many readers might. It just seems prudent to offer some sort of description well ahead of time if you're going to make quips about them, so that readers might be able to imagine or understand the relevance of an expression or fear, or what have you, better. I don't want to be distracted by wondering what an animal is when I'm trying to enjoy a good book.

It's a shame, really. I probably won't go on to read the rest of the series as it comes out. Not because it's bad, but because it's not mentally challenging. Honestly, it reads like fanfiction, and that's okay. Even fanfiction has its place in the literary world. It simply won't be high on my priority list.

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I wasn’t personally feeling interested so strapped after chapter 1, but it’s very easy to read and follow. I could see it doing well in the New Adult Romantasy space.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Voyager for the ARC.

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Thank you Harper Collins and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

Before I can begin to talk about what I just read, I wanted to say to the team marketing at HC.

HOW F* DARE YOU!?!?!?!? Send me an ARC copy when this title doesn’t even come out till December 2023 and I am currently sitting in my home library staring at the wall, bowling my eyes out bc I just finished the most beautiful story I’ve read in fantasy this year and I have NO ONE TO TALK ABOUT IT WITH! But also, ILY and THANK YOU ♥️😭👀

Now that that’s out of the way, If you all thought that A. K. Mulford couldn’t outdo themselves then THINK AGAIN because they literally came in for next level ✨EMOTIONAL DAMAGE✨

They were able to give us a Fantasy story filled with all the emotions and RAW ONES, like, UGH, I cried. So, we have an enchanting Fantasy Romance story Where Love, Found Family, Loyalty, Friendship, Wolf shifters, Sorcerers, Fated Mates, Politocal views, Incredible Queer representation, BAD ASS FMC, and possibly a sleeping beauty retelling? Are the main ingredients and if that’s not a recipe for GREATNESS then IDK what would be.

Grae & Calla love story is the one you didn’t know you needed.

Calla and her twin sister Briar’s existence has been kept secret from the remaining of the Wolf kingdoms. The day they were born, an evil sorcerer attacked their kingdom and as their Mother’s last dying wish, she was able to summoned a fairy that will protect them till the day Briar turned 20 and married the prince of the silver wolf kingdom ( who happens to be Calla’s only childhood friend) and so as their kingdom is stolen from them by this evil sorceress and the fairy takes the newborns away to a safe place, You will be met with a story about finding who you truly are, where you belong, what you are willing to sacrifice for the name of peace and fight for what’s right.

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💫Thank you to Netgalley and publisher for a free arc in exchange for a honest review💫

The absolute wonderful world building is what pulled me into this book and the deep character growth made even better.
The Galen den' Mora is one of the best found family's I've come across in fantasy, I felt at home immediately.
The queer friendly space was a pleasure to read, I'm so glad that it was not questioned in this book as I've seen in this specific sub genre.
Calla's journey to self discovery and acceptance is both moving and frustrating. You feel her sorrow for her people on every page.

I will absolutely be recommending this book to people!

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I loved this retelling. Calla was a wonderful mc and I enjoyed how strong their character was. It was refreshing to read about a non binary mc.

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A River of Golden Bones by A.K. Mulford offers a deluge of earnest gender discovery in a frankly wonderful sleeping beauty retelling reimagined as a queer shifter romance. Wolf shifters Calla and Briar are famed twin orphans of the fallen Golden Court. Briar was raised to become a Wolf princess that would one day lead her people and marry the handsome Prince Grae. Calla was the child raised to protect her sister and lead armies. But, upon Grae’s return to the twin's hidden childhood home for his wedding to Briar, Calla cannot help but feel something is wrong. She loves her childhood best friend but knows she will never be accepted as Prince Grae’s match even though she knows her sister has never been attracted to men. But at the wedding, expected matches change, and the evil sorceress who killed the twins’ parents all those years ago has returned to muddy the waters further by stealing Briar and placing her under a sleeping curse. Calla will now do anything to save her and return her to safety, even if she/they must run away from the prince who holds her heart. Mulford confronts how one dismantles cultural gender binaries to discover their nonbinary identity amidst romantic heroic quests that sizzle off the page in the first book of The Golden Court series.

Now, queer wolf shifter mates will always be fun, but there is something so wonderful about how it is done here. Briar’s sapphic relationship is wonderful and the central love interests in the story, Calla and Grae are simply perfect. I am a sucker for a friend-to-lovers relationship and the friendship, care, and loyalty they show to each other is so wonderfully done. They are partners still discovering how they will work together and love each other as adults. The Wolf community is patriarchal and heavily relies on the gender binary, so a nonbinary warrior like Calla must dismantle their cultural biases in order to find acceptance and Grae is right there for it all. Sure, they are often running for their lives against a ticking clock to save Briar, but they still have time for deeply important conversations along the way.

It is easy to sing this gorgeous book’s praises. The high fantasy worldbuilding is impressive. The main characters and side characters have some excellent character arcs. Plus, the romance at the center of it all is frankly hot. If anything about queer shifter mates, friends to lovers, lost heirs, or sleeping beauty retellings appeal to you, just get this book, please. You will be doing yourself a favor. Thank you Harper Voyager for providing me with an earc for an honest review of this delicious fantasy romance set to release December 5, 2023.

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✔️ Fated Mates
✔️ Childhood friends to lovers
✔️ sleeping beauty vibes
✔️ wolf shifters
✔️ non-binary main character
✔️ diverse cast of side characters
✔️ spicy romantacy

Firstly, thank you NetGalley and the author for the arc of this really fun story!!

Calla has always lived in her sister’s Briar’s shadow. Both golden wolves and sole members of their royal family left, they are protected from Sawyn the evil usurper and sorcerer that ended their parent’s lives by her mother’s dying wish.

Briar is set to marry Grae, silver wolf and prince to a neighbor kingdom. However, her sister Calla was always half in love with him instead.

Chaos happens the night of Briar’s wedding, and we get some very plot twisty reveals. Some tragedies, and then our main character truly starts their journey of not only finding a way to wake her sister from her slumber, but find out about what kind of person Calla truly is inside.

We meet the most incredible cast in this story. It takes a lot for me to like side characters- and I LOVED the ones in this book. They were so special, so kind, and really added so much to this story.

The romance is tension filled and medium burn - with steam paying off about 3/4ths in. 😎

The pacing I enjoyed, I did not find myself getting bored or thoughts going elsewhere when I read it. I was invested the whole time. The story ends like a stand-alone, but I’d love more stories in this world!!

This was a really fresh take on a sleeping beauty retelling with so many twists. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves romantacy books with with self discovery, emotional moments and high steam!

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Thank you netgalley and publisher for allowing me to read this book. I’m giving this 3.5 stars. The romance between the two main characters fell a little flat for me. The book overall was kind of slow and hard to keep up. It was a good fantasy book but a little to ya for me than others I’ve read before.

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I enjoyed this book so much! This is a re-telling of sleeping beauty but with wolves. There were so meany surprises in this story and I very much enjoyed this journey with theses characters.

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This was such a good read! I loved Calla, she was a very strong FMC with determination and the bravery to journey to save her sister (and take back her kingdom!) instead of waiting around for someone else to save her. I didn't particularly care for the relationship between Calla and Grae, I think because it started with them both secretly pining for each other (the friendship was already in place), and you didn't get to see that relationship develop. The author did have the characters reminisce on their childhoods together so you kind of got an idea of what they were like together and how they became important to each other, but I love reading the banter and chemistry develop and you don't get that (it quickly went from 'we're friends' to 'I love you'). I actually really liked the villain in this book. She isn't black and white, and while she definitely did bad things, her backstory made me sympathetic to her. I'd honestly really enjoy a book from her POV from when she was younger. If you like fated mates, wolf-shifters, spicy romance, and a dangerous quest you'll enjoy this book!

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*Recieved an eARC from netgalley for an honest review. Thank you!

I am actually pleasantly surprised I enjoyed this book for the most part. The writing isn't jaw-dropping, but it's not irritatingly repetitive and it flows fairly well, plus the pacing was done well enough that I was always engaged.

Now, I did not know much going into this book aside from the small blurb. I definitely was not expecting to read a book about fated mates, which I have a very negative experience with. From my previous experience with books that contain this trope, gender essentialism is just rampant and in your face. However, I have to give props to the author for including the fated mates trope in such a way that includes a variety of identities that I scarcely see in other books. It also wasn't just thrown in there to get brownie points. The world the author builds to be inclusive is actually organically done, most of the time. There were certainly parts where it felt a bit off or cringe, but in general, I think the author truly wrote this with the good intention of creating a world where we see a fantasy, medieval society fighting to be inclusive.

The main character, for instance, initially starts off their journey to take back their kingdom with the sole purpose of avenging their family, protecting their sister and returning home. However, they learn that reclaiming the throne is more than just those initial desires; It also comes with overturning old traditions that segregated their people, ending the patriarchy. welcoming people of different backgrounds etc. And all of this comes with their own self-discovery, which I can definitely appreciate.

Following with this, I think the characters are actually pretty likeable. They're not the most memorable, but they were still written in a way that gave them room to develop and have flaws. The other pet peeve I tend to have with fantasy/romance books like this is that the characters are incredibly overpowered and are perfect in every way, lending them to be the some of the most boring characters ever that rarely face consequences. But in this book, the characters do have moments where they misjudge other characters, or they aren't as strong as they make themselves out to be initially, which they then learn to humble themselves. This is executed really well with the humans and wolf-shifters' relationship, for instance. I actually found the main character's interaction with Ora, one of the human bards that the mc travels with, the most endearing.

Romance-wise, it wasn't the most mind blowing thing either, but I honestly am not annoyed at it. I think the mc and their love interest had a relatively realistic relationship development. It may seen insta-lovey, given that a lot of the build up of their friendship is offrecord (before the events of the book), but I enjoyed that the actual romantic part of their relationship was pretty tumultuous at the start, and it took time for the love interest to earn back the mc's trust. In doing so, he became a better character in my eyes. Plus, he knows how to support the mc without try-harding to be a feminist king, like some certain character from another certain book.

There's sex btw. Quite a few attempts, some successes. There was one sex scene I was not on board with because the timing was incredibly off. The other thing I find myself despising is how fanfic-y most fantasy romance writing ends up being when sex is involved, but this was okay.

Overall, this book actually felt whole and complete. The pacing was done fairly well, the characters had actual development, and I liked the themes that the author included in this.

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A river of golden bones is a twist on Sleeping beauty where instead of waiting for her prince to save her, Sleeping beauty’s twin steps out from the shadows and kicks ass to free her sister.

Set in a world where wolf shifters rule the humans, we follow Calla, a wolf shifter royal who was hidden with her twin Briar, away from the world for twenty years. The twins come out of hiding for Briar, the heir of the Golden Throne, to accept her role as the bride to Prince Grae, the heir of the Silver Throne, joining their two courts. When the evil sorceress who had taken Briar’s throne finds out about their return she places Briar into a deep sleep. Calla risks everything to save her/their sister finding friends, family, love and her/their trueself along the way.

I adored our main character, Calla who was underestimated every step of the way. I loved the way she/they connected with others, which helped us to really see her/their true nature. Her/their relationship with Briar was so genuine and loving, her/their love for Grae was complicated but beautiful, her/their care for the humans and wolves she/they travelled with lovely. Even the way that Calla grieved over her/their actions towards her/their enemies showed her/their heart. So much heart yet so fierce and brave.

The remaining cast of characters were all uniquely amazing and played off each other in such a fun way, in typical AK Mulford style. Part of the fun of the story is finding out who Calla connects with, so I won’t share any details here!

This was quite the emotional read, bringing me to tears many times. The secondary storyline of Calla stepping out from the shadows of her/their sister to start to see herself/themself as she/they wants to be and to eventually embrace her/their true self brought all the feels. It felt like an honour to witness this journey of self discovery.

This was a fantastic read, the world building helped me to feel like I could step right into the book, the journey was focused and the pacing had a lovely variation. I am looking forward to moving onto book two and have my fingers crossed that it continues to be told from Calla’s POV.

This book includes:
- queer characters
- fated mates
- royal politics
- secret heir to the throne
- sleeping beauty retelling
- wolf shifters

Thank you to Harper Voyager and the author for the eARC. I have voluntarily shared my review and all thoughts are my own.

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Thank you A.K. Mulford/Netgalley/Avon and Harper Voyager for the ARC. Much appreciated.

((Please note I've chosen they/them pronouns here for consistency as per their bio, which indcates either they or her.))

I have a tenuous relationship with A.K. Mulford's work. Their other series that I've read--THE FIVE CROWNS OF ORKITH--was a strange ride. The first, I did not like. The second, I did. The third, I did not. I'm yet to read the EVERGREEN HEIR but if we're continuing the pattern stated above, I might like it. Ultimately, that series felt sort of like a generic fantasy-romance with Fae that did not, altogether, bring anything new to either Fae, fantasy, or romance. I'm mentioning all this to give you an understanding of why I was hesitant to request this, but went against my better judgment and did.

This one did not resonate with me, for reasons I'll do my best to outline.

1. A.K. Mulford's prose--their actual writing--has never been fantastic to me. While reading her previous series, I felt I read flashes of excellent writing, bogged down with tropes of the fantasy-romance genre that they did not dig into properly, thus everything felt flat. That is how I felt here. I would like to see A.K. Mulford work on her craft a bit more, to really push themself, because I feel them capable.

2. This work attempts to question and examine gender roles/identity, which at times, felt fantastic, and at other times, felt forced, hollow, and cringe. Going into reasons why is likely spoilery. I will leave that until after release. (Please note this critique comes from my own experiences with gender identity.)

3. I've never been fan of A.K. Mulford's actual sex or romance scenes. They very much fall into the category of trying too hard whilst being wooden--no exception here.

4. The worldbuilding (much like their other series) is embarrassingly flimsy at best, and suffers from someone who wants to write a romance (...see above) and has thrown a bunch of fantasy elements that are not clever, unique, or well-developed enough to drive the narrative forward in a way where the world shapes the characters in an interesting manner. A.K. Mulford suffers from what most romantasy books do: they are often romance writers, not fantasy writers, with little understanding of the fantasy genre to be able to blend the two genres together in a meaningful, and satisfying way. To be a good romantasy writer--you need BOTH.

That's not me saying this book is terrible. At times, it was even mildly enjoyable. Just not good.

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'Sleeping Beauty' x wolf shifters, with strong themes of gender identity and gender roles. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy Fantasy and Fairy Tale retellings.

#ARiverofGoldenBones #NetGalley - I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s. Read more reviews!

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Thanks to HarperCollins and NetGalley for the advanced copy.

This was good and stayed on trend to Mulford’s other writing. Calla is the hidden twin sister to the crimson princess who has been hidden away for 20 years from the evil sorceress that killed their parents. Calla has been raised to be the protector and shadow which all comes crashing down when they come out of hiding for Briar (calla’s twin) wedding to Grae. The sorceress shows back up and curses Briar after some revelations about each twin. Also, they are the last of the golden wolves and are wanting to get back to their kingdom to reestablish their seat. Calla ends up running to try and save Briar, meeting up with a unique group of performers.

I enjoyed this, though at the beginning it felt a little rocky. There is good inclusion in the book, and I enjoyed realizing some of the conclusions the MC came to about how others were treated matched what I would also think. I’m hoping this is a series and will look forward to both the release of this book and any future ones!

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From bestselling author and TikTok sensation A.K. Mulford comes the first riveting, enchanting book in the all-new Golden Court romantasy trilogy--A River of Golden Bones begins a journey of self-discovery, romance, and adventure for a young heir as she/they comes out of hiding to save her sister from a malicious, powerful sorceress and her dangerous sleeping curse.

I love A.K. Mulford's work and this book was no exception. I can't wait to read the rest of this trilogy.

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I think the best way to describe this book is calling it Sleeping Beauty retelling x Shifter omegaverse romantic fantasy? There's a lot to unPACK here. Yes, it was funnier in my head.

The book handles a variety of concepts and themes, primarily Calla's journey of self-discovery. For the majority of her life, Calla was raised in her twin sister Briar's shadow as a willing protector for the future ruler of her besieged kingdom that they hope to one day save through her sister's marriage to Grae, prince of neighboring kingdom, childhood friend, not-so-secret crush of Calla.

Throw in fated mates, LGBTQ themes and characters, wolf shifting, spicy romance and it's a fascinating world that would make a killer CW show. It truly does feel like the child of an AO3 omegaverse fic with the storytelling and adventure of a fantasy drama that would air on The CW.

Some not-so-great points: the book features a cliched take that I'm not so fond of in fantasy. There's this huge stigma and class division between the Wolves (the shifters) and the ordinary humans. Humans hate Wolves for their oppressive power but Wolves rule the kingdoms for its "long history of protection".

Calla and the other Wolves up until almost half of the story never think to question this system of power even when Calla is a victim to it. Only when she encounters and interacts with humans on a more familiar level does this change. This is something that just feels bland and overdone and rooted with racial allegory that doesn't sit quite right with me. In particular, there's this massive emphasis on the stigma against humans and Wolves sleeping together. This entire aspect of the world just was disappointing.

However, one aspect of the story that I could particularly relate to and found incredibly appealing was Calla's self-discovery in regard to gender, gender roles, and gender identity. Calla internally rejects the womanhood that her society is accustomed to, yet struggles to verbalize and claim her own identity on the transgender/non-binary spectrum. This was my favorite aspect of the story and one I personally felt was meaningful and well-developed.

Overall, I genuinely liked the overall story and writing that A.K. Mulford brought to life and anticipate the continuation of the series. In the meantime, this definitely piqued my interest in reading some of Mulford's other fantasy books.

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I love the LGBTQA+ community representation! It’s something so rarely seen as a MC, let alone in fantasy. This has everything I love in a book and I’m happily waiting for the next one!

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Twins Calla and Briar have been told all their lives who they are and who they are going to be. Everything changes when they are betrayed by the very people they put all their hope into. now Calla must break ancient laws, betray her way of life, and abandon everything thy thought they knew in a journey to save not only herself, but their cursed twin. on the way, she learns the truths about what holding on to tradition can cost... and learns what it means to be who they truly are. Some secretes, are worth revealing, and many traditions, are worth tossing away for the betterment of all.

This book, was amazing. following Calla as they discovered the person they truly are, watching hem fight against an oppressive system determined to force her into a box. overcoming everything that was put in their way. the plot was amazing, the characters where relatable and filled with personality. the spice was A+ and the pacing was marvelous. I never felt bored, nor did I feel rushed and the ending was super satisfying.

All in all, I highly recommend this book! especially for anyone who is on a journey of self discovery.

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This was a surprising young adult read that I enjoyed diving into. Honestly, I kind of felt like I was missing a whole book's worth of background, but it eventually all started to make sense, but Mulford really drops you into the middle of the day and middle of the action, left to wander around a little bit to figure out what is happening.

I enjoyed the character development, and while I wish there was a little bit more spent on the sister's relationship growing, I totally understand this is a story around our heroine and her soul mate, plus coming to terms with her relationship with herself and her identity. I was a little confused that gender identity/discovery was part of the back-flap blurb, since I didn't really feel like it played into the story's throughline, other than "she doesn't like wearing dresses" and similar nods in the same vein. Maybe I was looking for more dramatic discoveries than might eek themselves into a YA fantasy romance. /shrug

5/5 fantasy world-building with human/wolf transformations
3/5 familial relationship-building
3/5 personal discovery storylines
4/5 character building

Thanks to Avon and Harper Voyager, Harper Voyager for the advanced reader copy (ARC) via NetGalley! Always game for reading a new fantasy adventure!

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