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A River of Golden Bones

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Member Reviews

I wanted to say thank you first to Avon and Harper Collins for approving this book for me to read. I loved Calla's as a main character. I absolutely loved the gender fluid representation in this book. I did have a little bit of a hard time getting through this one and I think it might be that the book was written in first person. I think that if I had a POV of Grae it would have been more enjoyable for me. Overall I loved the story!

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A River of Golden Bones
by A.K. Mulford
The Golden Court #1
Fantasy Mature
NetGalley ARC
Pub. Date: Dec. 5, 2023
Harper Voyager
Ages: 18+

Calla and Briar are twins, born on two different days, and are hiding from the sorceress who killed their parents and took the throne on the day they were born. Their mother's dying wish was granted by a fairy, though Briar was the only child born at the time, Calla came after the wish and her mother's death.

Hidden from all except Prince Grae and his father, Briar is trained as a princess, destined to marry Prince Grae, and Calla is trained to be her sister's protector.

On their eighteenth birthday, they leave the only home they have ever known for Briar to marry the prince. But the sorceress interrupts before the vows are taken and curses Briar into sleep. To save her sister, Calla leaves to destroy the sorceress.

This story started off slow and disjointed. Things were not really explained in detail so I was not sure what really happened to their parents, who Grae was supposed to be, and why Calla and Briar were so unfeeling. It seemed as if they had no emotions whatsoever. They didn't shed many tears when they left, knowing the Fairy who raised them along with the home was going to disappear and not be seen again.

It did get a little interesting, but then flatlined and I got bored.

The blurb exaggerates the monsters and 'dangers' Calla runs into on her journey. The blurb and genre listing also fails to mention this contains porn, and that failure flushed a star away! (If it's listed as porn, I won't request it!) I understand it's a 'slow-burn-romance', but you don't need the gag-worthy detailed descriptions.

As for the next book in the series... Probably not. The story isn't bad, but it's not worth wading through the puke (porn).

2 Stars

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A fun, interesting shifter fantasy romance that kept me entertained from start to finish. This was a sexy, emotionally deep read by a new to me author. I really enjoyed it and am excited to read what's next in this new series. Perfect for fans of TJ Klune or Kelley Armstrong. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early digital copy in exchange for my honest review!

Steam level: open door!

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AK Mulford could step on my neck and I would say thank you.

However.

This was not their usual perfect 5 stars for me.

It took me awhile to like Calla. I found her to be a bit whiny and immature for the first third of the book. That being said, I’m aware that was the point. I just wasn’t expecting it knowing this was more New Adult and she was in her 20’s I believe. Calla did have amazing growth throughout the book so those feelings were short lived. My only other complaint was sometimes the pacing felt a bit funky and I thought the book ended three times before it kept carrying on.

Okay. Now to the good. The world building was excellent, which is to be expected here. The characters all had something that drew you in and made you invested in them, even the side characters. The gender exploration here was perfect and so artfully captured. It had genuine romance of friends to lovers which was just expertly acted out. The big bad had many sides to her which I appreciated. This truly was excellent. It just fell slightly short of a perfect 5 stars for me.

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There are better queer fated mates romances and absolutely better shifter romances and fairytales. This absolutely misses the marks on all fronts and is utterly bland milk toast with uninteresting characters. I tried the audio to see if it would be better but not even Vico Ortiz could save this for me. Grae and Calla should have fucked on said wedding night and it would have made for so much more compelling character issues and not lets shove 3 sex scenes in the last 20% and have the entire big bad fight hinge on the fact that Calla hasn't told Grae about being nonbinary. It was all pointless so utterly pointless

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I have unintentionally ended up in my shifter era and I am so enjoying it! This story is a different type of werewolf story though - its much more rooted in fantasy than paranormal and it was so fun and easy to devour. The story follows Calla, and her twin Briar, in a quest to reclaim their kingdom and birthright, but as we know the hero's journey is never easy. I loved the found family, the queer exploration, and the twists. Think sleeping beauty's curse meets queerness, meets fated mates and that's what you've got here. It took me a little bit of time to be convinced of the romance but once I understood the MMC more it felt more genuine. There's spice and some action-packed moments that will have you quickly turning the page to see what happens next.

Thanks to NetGalley and Avon and Harper Voyager for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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3.5 stars rounded down.
A River of Golden Bones is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty with wolves! That was definitely an interesting twist, and if you love fairytale retellings, I'm sure you'll like this book.
It is a bit slow, especially in the middle, but the plot was well-thought out and and world building was adequate. I believe my main problem was that I couldn't connect or relate well to Calla, the main character. She didn't really have much of a personality to me.
Loved the fact that it was very LGBTQ+ friendly! Calla is non-binary, which if that is an important representation for you as a reader, pick up this book!
Thank you NetGalley for letting me read this ARC!

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A fun romantasy that feels a bit more authentic and unique than the usual fae/vampire books out now.

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Thank you to Avon and Harper Voyager, as well as NetGalley, for an arc of this book. This review is my honest feedback and given voluntarily.

I genuinely enjoyed reading this story! Not to mention feeling so seen by Calla's character. I loved all the non-conforming rep in this book, classic A.K. Mulford style. While it did feel just a tiny bit on the YA side, I still found it to be enjoyable. But I will warn you, it is a sloooooow and angsty burn. But not because the fire ain't gettin' stoked though! Nah, it's cuz these characters just STAY getting interrupted, I swear! I didn't think we were EVER gonna get that spice bomb that was just waiting to explode. I didn't know about Grae at first...I thought he might turn out to be a punk not worthy of Calla, but he definitely changed my mind. Calla was a fierce thing and I really enjoyed her journey, although there was a brief period where I was like, "why are you doing this????". But overall I liked her character.

This is a wolf shifter romantasy and is told solely from Calla's POV in 1st person. I would have loved to have had a little bit of Grae's perspective in this, but honestly I was fine with it the way things were written. I thought this was written well and ended nicely, but with enough of a semi-cliffhanger to keep you interested in what else this series will have to offer. I did feel like the "just-before ending" events fell a tad bit flat compared to the build-up, but not a big deal.

I would definitely recommend, especially for those who like a dash of steam/spice with their YA-ish romantasy. Solid example of the sub-genre for sure, especially with the representation demonstrated. I would definitely be interested in reading the next one.

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I love a good wolf shape shifter romantic fantasy. This is one of those books that brings together a lot of different ideas and concepts and the actually execution is fantastic! A great start to a new series, I will definitely continue on!

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Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to Read this wonderful work!

AK Mulford you are a genius! I have to be honest that midway through this I got on a Fantasy slump and wasn’t able to finish it before the release day but I am so happy I finished it now.

A River of Golden Bones brings to life a world full of suffering due to years of hate and not doing the right thing. Left and right rulers have their own agenda all fuelled by their own hate or greed for power that is not meant for them alone. The characters are colorful and strong and just perfect. They all were needed to make the story come true and for a True Ruler to reign.

I did not expect to tear up, ok I sobbed, while reading this but that scene at towards the end was written so beautifully that I couldn’t help it.

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Another incredible book from A.K Mulford!
This book was a really enjoyable story and wasn't heavy on the world building so great for anyone wanting to get into fantasy as well as the die hard fantasy lovers.

Calla is the twin sister in secret of the Heir to the Golden throne, Briar.
Briar is set to marry Grae a wolf shifter prince to form an alliance to help save their kingdom.
On their wedding day things don't quite go to plan and Calla is forced to step out of the shadows and help save her sister who is now in a sleeping beauty type spell as well as save her kingdom.

Calla goes on a journey of self descovery as she figures out who she is after a life of living in her sisters shadow.
It has fated mates, some spice, found family, wolf shifters, gender exploration, queer representation, a sleeping beauty spell and lots of adventure.

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This book was a really fun new take on Sleeping Beauty. I have never been a huge fan of the traditional tale, but this book gave Sleeping Beauty a secret twin who was raised to be a warrior instead of a princess.
Calla’s sister, Briar, is betrothed to the Prince of the silver wolves. Briar is known as the lost princess, but what the world doesn’t know is that Briar has a twin sister. An evil sorceress has is out for their family and shows up on Briar’s wedding day and chaos ensues. Briar ends the day in a deep sleep with her fated mate, the only one who can wake her, taken captive. Calla embarks on a journey to try and save her sister.
Calla joins with a band of musicians who make them realize who they truly are.
The representation in this book was wonderfully done and I loved reading Calla’s journey of self discovery. This story was familiar, but different. It was a story of finding love, but also learning to love yourself for wo you are.
This book wasn’t perfect. The pacing was off and the story was a little boring in the middle portion with the majority of the plot in the beginning 25% and the last 25%. This is also a fated mates story, and I didn’t love Calla’s chemistry with their mate. The spice felt a little out of place. This is the first book in the series, and I think personally I would have like this first book to focus on Calla finding themselves, and less on the romance plotline because it felt slightly out of place in this book. I would have also liked a little more world building. We get a little bit of it, but things in this world aren’t ever really explained.
Overall I would recommend this book. It felt like a good start to a story and I am exited to see what else these characters have in store for them moving forward.

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The best sleeping beauty retelling I have ever read.

A.K. Mulford has written another amazing fantasy romance. Calla and her twin Briar have been in hiding since they were born. Now that they have turned 18 they are entering Silver Wolf's society so Briar can marry the prince and save their kingdom. That is until the evil sorceress, Sawyn, has other plans. Calla must save her sister and her kingdom and along the way find themself.

Why I love this book:
~Friends to Lovers
~LGBTQ+ Representation
~Wolf Shifters
~Saving the Kingdom
~Spicy Romance
~Romantasy
~Self Discovery
~Fated Mates

Thank you so much to Avon and NetGalley for the opportunity to arc-read this amazing book in exchange for an honest review.

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A.K. Mulford has become one of my favorite authors in the romantasy genre, especially for her care with queer characters, characters of color, and fat characters - all who helm her novels. A River Golden Bones is a book about finding oneself, despite having being groomed to be one who follows the rules and live of others.

With a friends-to-lovers romance and a retelling of Sleeping Beauty as the plot, the main focus of this is discovering the larger world that Mulford has created for Calla to explore and find self in. With a ragtag group of musicians, Calla learns more about how the world should be and how easy it is to find oneself with the support of a great community.

Mulford continues to add space for also sorts of characters to a mostly white, cishet, thin romantasy character casts. The formulas that are so popular in the romantasy genres still work and are wildly successful even when they are not featuring the stories of white, cishet, thin, etc. characters.

I received an ARC from Netgalley and unfortunately never paid for reviews.

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Thank you SO MUCH to A.K. Mulford, NetGallery and the publisher for providing an ARC for me to read ❤️ forever grateful for this opportunity!
A River of Golden Bones is a fresh, new twist to the classic “Sleeping Beauty” tale. It follows Calla and Briar, twins to a defeated kingdom after an evil sorceress curses their mother. Briar is the “Crimson Princess”, groomed from an early age to be the Queen of their kingdom. Calla, on the other hand, has been kept a secret. A back up plan lurking in Briar’s shadow. But after Briar befalls a sleeping curse by the sorceress, Calla must fight her way across the country, Aotreas, to defeat Sawyn and reclaim the throne.
The way Allie writes these main characters is truly my favorite part. Calla was such a relatable character for me (personally) and seeing that representation in fantasy novels really warms my heart. The worldbuilding was immaculate, from the descriptions of the hot springs in the mountains to the spicy scenes 😮‍💨. The fact that the book “wraps” its storyline while still leaving it opened ended had me satisfied with the read while still eager to dive into what was to happen next with the Golden Court. I cannot wait for the next book in the series and the book hasn’t even released yet 😭

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*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review*

dnf @ 40%

Now, I really tried to avoid dnfing this book. I was really excited to read it. I mean, I love a good retelling and a good fated mates storyline. But, for whatever reason, I just couldn't get into this book. I think its more of a me problem. I'm in a bit of a reading slump. But I found the book to be too slow to keep my attention at the current moment. I wasn't really wowed by anything. Not the romance or the world building. There was some pretty good representation, however. But, it just wasn't my cup of tea. I may return to it eventually.

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This is a Sleeping Beauty reimaging but with shapeshifting wolves. Twin sisters, hiding from the malevolent sorceress who killed their parents navigate a world of alliances, prophecies, and hidden legacies. There is a rich tapestry of world-building. The intricacies of the Wolf society, the alliances between packs, the separate human world, and the looming threat of the sorceress create a vivid backdrop.

While there are numerous tropes to love here, they are also navigated with finesse. Mulford manages to breathe fresh life into them, steering clear of predictability and clichés. The story also explores themes of gender and self-discovery with Calla. As she steps out of the shadows and embarks on a quest to save her twin, she gets to figure out who she wants to be. The love story that also unfolds is both tender and passionate and the found pack/family aspect is wonderful.

While I had an eARC, I just had to wait to listen along with the audiobook. It was both eagerly anticipated and ultimately worth the wait. Vico Ortiz's delivery enhances the immersive quality of the story. Phenomenal job.

What sets "A River of Golden Bones" apart is the genuine and heartfelt nature of the story. Mulford's inclusivity, the sincerity invested in the storytelling, and the avoidance of typical tropes contribute to a story that feels both refreshing and deeply personal. A.K. Mulford has poured their creative essence into this work.

Thank you to Netgalley, Avon, and Harper Voyager for the eARC. This is an honest review.

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Overall, just a bit messier than I’d like. Some of the world was great but other parts felt underdeveloped. Loved the idea, not the execution.

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Sleeping Beauty retelling x wolf shifters? Say no more.

Still finishing up the book but I’m loving it so far! The romantic tension has me on my toes and I love reading fairytale retellings with a twist. Also I love these gorgeous splash of colors on the cover!

Thank you @netgalley for the ARC!

Edited to add: I finally finished the book 2 weeks later but I struggled to finish it and had to force myself. The story pacing was so slow and I got bored as the story dragged on. There was a lot of build up to how terrible and powerful the villain was but when we learn more about Sawyn and meet her, she just seemed like a caricature witch. The ending was a bit simplistic and honestly I didn’t understand why Sawyn did everyone a favor making it easier for the main characters to reach their goal. There is found family trope which I might’ve enjoyed more if the side characters were more fleshed out, the trope felt a little half-baked. I didn’t really have any reason to care for them that much. I did love the traveling wagon-mobile concept though, it reminded me of Howl’s Moving Castle. This book had an interesting concept and I was curious how the romance with the sister’s betrothed would work out with the FMC but I lost interest very quickly in the story due to the slow pacing.

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