Bursts of Fire

Addicted to Heaven, Book 1

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Pub Date 06 Aug 2019 | Archive Date 31 Aug 2019

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ARC version. Publishers Lunch Buzz Books 2019 selection. Recommended by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal.

Bursts of Fire begins an epic political fantasy of revenge, addictions, and redemption for three magiel sisters. In an empire where magic has become suspect, love and loyalty—for one's lover, one's family, one's country—are tested. If Heaven desires the very earth be burned, what place can those below hope for, when the flames come for them?

To Survive. To Fight. To Restore Balance.

The Falkyn sisters bear a burden and a legacy. Their mother, the imperial magiel of the kingdom of Orumon, protects her people from the horrors of the afterlife by calling upon the Gods with a precious Prayer Stone. But war among the kingdoms has brought fire and destruction to their sheltered world. When a mad king's desire to destroy the Prayer Stones shatters their family, the three girls are scattered to the wilderness, relying on their wits and powers they don’t yet master.

Assassin. Battle tactician. Magic wielder. Driven by different ambitions, Meg, Janat, and Rennika are destined to become all these and more. To reclaim their birth right, they must overcome doubtful loyalties within a rising rebellion; more, they must challenge a dogma-driven chancellor's influence on the prince raised to inherit his father's war: a prince struggling to unravel the mystery of his brother's addiction to Heaven.

AUTHOR: SUSAN FOREST is an award-winning author and editor of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. She has published over 25 short stories in Canadian and international publications. Bursts of Fire, the first in her seven-book series Addicted to Heaven, is not only a tale of rollicking adventure, but also an opportunity—one she appreciates—for an examination of the complex world of addictions. Susan loves to travel and has been known to dictate novels from the back of her husband's motorcycle. Follow the Addicted to Heaven series online at www.addictedtoheaven.com.

RECOMMENDED AGE: Mature Readers (ages 16 and up)

SHORT DESCRIPTION:  Bursts of Fire begins an epic political fantasy of revenge, addictions, and redemption for three magiel sisters. In an empire where magic has become suspect, love and loyalty—for one's lover, one's family, one's country—are tested.


Epic Fantasy, Political Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Sagas,


FIC009020 FICTION / Fantasy / Epic

FIC009100 FICTION / Fantasy / Action & Adventure

FIC043000 FICTION / Coming of Age

Note:  Audiobook and Large Print format available in 2020

ARC version. Publishers Lunch Buzz Books 2019 selection. Recommended by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal.

Bursts of Fire begins an epic political fantasy of revenge, addictions, and...

A Note From the Publisher

• Available in Trade Paperback (9781988140100) US$18.95 and EBook (9781988140148) US$9.99

• Available to US, Canada, and international libraries through Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Overdrive, and cloudLibrary (Bibliotheca)

• A donation of $1,000 CAD goes to support one of the programs at Kids Help Phone and The Alex Centre—Changing Health, Changing Lives upon its publication.

• Susan Forest co-edits the award-winning "social causes" anthology series—Strangers Among Us (mental health), The Sum of Us (caregiving), Shades Within Us (migrations/fractured borders)—which has been recommended by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, School Library Journal, Locus, and Foreword Reviews.

• Available in Trade Paperback (9781988140100) US$18.95 and EBook (9781988140148) US$9.99...

Advance Praise

Publishers Lunch Buzz Books 2019 selection

"An emotional story of familial love, tension, and mistrust among three sisters and three brothers . . . devastated by conquest and fanaticism. Forest employs the fantasy world as an allegory to address issues of religious intolerance, immigration, xenophobia, refugees, and mental illness; this gives the novel a timely feel . . . Readers who relish adventure mingled with a message will be engrossed in the plights of the two sets of siblings."Publishers Weekly

"Forest depicts strong female characters, with varying motivations and personalities adding plenty of action in daring raids, battles with war machines, and magical time walking, though equal attention is given to exploring relationships between the sisters and their allies. This exciting new series will have fantasy fans eagerly awaiting the next installment."Library Journal

“The first book in the Addicted to Heaven series promises an exciting political fantasy with realistic representation of mental illness and addiction and is sure to entertain fans of epic adventures.”—Booklist

"Themes of religious and democratic freedoms; magic-based time travel’s addictive, almost hallucinogenic, qualities . . . readers can hope for more in future installments."Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Lunch Buzz Books 2019 selection

"An emotional story of familial love, tension, and mistrust among three sisters and three brothers . . . devastated by conquest and fanaticism. Forest...

Marketing Plan

• Advance reading copies sent to print and online media, including Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, and Booklist

• NetGalley and Edelweiss+ distribution

• Book display at American Library Association 2019 annual conference

• Book launches, author appearances at select festivals and genre conventions

• Print and digital advertisements, social media campaign including advertising, giveaways, and bonus content

• Library marketing and special mailings

• Book club outreach and campaign

• Book discussion guide available online and in the book

• Pre-order campaign

• Advance reading copies sent to print and online media, including Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, and Booklist

• NetGalley and Edelweiss+ distribution

• Book display at American...

Average rating from 62 members

Featured Reviews

This book was received as an ARC from Laksa Media Groups in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

When receiving this book I did not know what to expect. They always say never judge a book by its cover and now I am starting to see why. I absolutely love this book for one reason, I share a name with one of the main heroines so that ALWAYS makes my reading better. I also loved this book because it reminded me of The Covenant but instead of friends and boys, it was girls and sisters with a huge family legacy that is bound to be theirs taken over by an evil dominant force. This book is packed with so much adventure and fantasy, that I could not stop reading and it will leave you anticipating until the ending, and those are the best books of all time.

We will consider adding this book to our YFantasy collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.

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It's a terrible thing, to see no future; but a powerful magiel has to protect her daughters.
The three Falkyn magiel sisters, have to embrace their fate, to survive a mad king.

I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

After their mother is disturbed that no magiel has seen a future beyond the year, a sign that their peaceful existence will be destroyed: she sets about planning the escape of her three daughters. They will become powerful magiels, and allies to kings and gods, if only they have the strength to survive.

I confess, when the book started, I was a little put off by the young, squabbling siblings. Meg and Janat are teenagers, and Rennika even younger. All they have ever known is a life of comfort, in the courts of kings. When their home is attacked and they have to escape, they are ill-suited to living rough, and take it out on each other.
This is only for the first couple of chapters, and things soon started to pick up. Sulwyn enters their lives, as their mother designed, and through him the girls become aware of the rebel force, gathering to oppose the king. At first, the girls are only concerned with survival; and the men in their lives see them as liabilities, mere girls that need protection. But slowly, they find their own drive and voices.

The world that Forest has created is brilliant. Different kingdoms, all ruled in a peaceful co-existence for generations.
Until an ambition king, and even more ambition magiel, conspire to break every pact and promise.
Each king has a royal magiel - someone of the highest magiel bloodline, that can access prayer stones. Their duty is to use these prayer stones to access Heaven, bring prayers to the gods, and to bring death tokens back for the people (people have to put death tokens in their mouths before they die, so their souls can go to Heaven, otherwise they are cursed to roam the land as fading ghosts).

King Artem goes against every code, when he decides that every stone should be destroyed, and only his Ruby stone preserved, forcing everybody to give up their religion and worship the One God.

Gods and the freedom to worship your own religion is at the background of this book, and drives the story, but it's done naturally and weaves subtly with the rest of the plot.
The book follows the men and women that are standing up to fight for their freedom, because you can't sit and wait for a higher power to save you.

This ended up being an intense and enjoyable epic fantasy, and I can't wait to see where the rest of the series leads.

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This was a good book. I wanted to start off by saying that, because I don't know if I will finish the series. The story is great, but there are very few positive moments in it to break up the negatives. After the characters got over their attitude of looking for someone to take care of them, they became much more interesting and likable. There was an amazing amount of character development and the story is intricate and interesting. When it ended, however, I could not think of much in it that was happy. I don't know if the story will be enough to return me to this world.

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I am a sucker for a good story about sisterhood and this book really delivered. It was an added bonus that these sisters are magiels and are on the run from a mad king. I really appreciated the ending of this book and loved getting to see the characters grow and develop through the story. Excited for the next book!

** I received the ARC from netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

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The book started out slowly, causing me to rethink reading it several times. Thank goodness I continued. and gave it a real chance!

The storyline is complex, which may be what made it slow going in the beginning. It was necessary to pay very close attention at all times to keep track of all the characters, all the timelines and all the various magics used. Not to mention the gods. However, once those thing fell into place the story became very engaging.

Watching these 3 girls, Meg, Janat and Rennika, go from young, rather pampered royalty with magical gifts, their class referred to as magiel, to refugees from a war they didn't understand yet had to either avoid or become involved in was an interesting experience. Because this is fantasy, and not real world events, we can watch, feel, and engage with these girls without comparing their lives with our own, real lives. Yet, we find the author takes her fantasy tale and imbues it with real life problems such as addiction, depression, mental disorders, emotional growth and religious quandaries. She has cleverly interwoven these disturbing issues that plague people of all walks of life in the real world with her fictional characters; issues inflicted upon royals, peasants, the wealthy the poverty stricken, the young, the old and the religious alike just as they are in the actual world. These seem to be issues she takes very seriously and is very involved in when not writing or editing so it isn't surprising that she was able to craft so believable a novel surrounding such devastating problems.

With all that being said, the storyline is a well written fantasy about these girls, their trials and tribulations growing up in what becomes a war torn world surrounded by people they fear they can't trust due to their physical manifestations of their magiel status. There is the angst of young girls being torn from all they know, from their mother, their homes and their privileged way of life, and there is the growth that comes from living in constant fear and strife not knowing who to trust. There, of course, is young love, jealousy between sisters when both want the same man, and rebellion of the youngest when the dislike of being treated as a child comes to the fore. But there is also the abiding love that sisters feel for each other when tragedy strikes and they find all they have is each other.

Through war, fear, loss and uncertainty we are shown the growth of these girls as well as the tearing apart of their world. Knowing there is still more to come just makes it that much more engaging. So, yes, I am very glad I got past the beginning and continued reading.

Very well done, Susan Forest! Looking forward to the continuation of Addicted to Heaven.

This book was given to me as an ARC with the understanding that I would provide a true and unbiased review.

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I will post a review for Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest on July 23, 2019. This is two weeks before its publishing date. I will be posting the review to my GoodReads page and YouTube channel.

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What a riveting tale!

I was hooked as soon as I started this and just couldn't put it down. These unique characters really kept things moving. The world building made you feel as if you knew this place already. I've never ready anything like this before.

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Where do I begin? This was a very good fantasy book. But besides fantasy - there was more. It was also about mental health and other problems. The characters were good, very believable. I always love stories about great sister power! Also some characters put a lot of faith in religion, and I always find that fascinating.

The book started off slow for me - it's an epic fantasy where a lot of the world the story takes place in needs to be established. I was never thinking about DNF, but it wasn't sucked in from the start like with some books. I think the magic system could have been explained more and better. The second half was way more flowing for me. I loved the sister's individual struggles and how they got together in the end. There was some love and romance, but just a tiny bit, not too much.

So in short: loved the story, I hope there's a sequel. Check it out if you like epic fantasy.

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The world is built beautifully, with descriptions scattered about the chapters, allowing the reader to put the jigsaw of that massive land of many kingdoms. The world was well-formed in the author’s head before she put it down on the page but I felt like some of the information is a bit too much for a first book – at times it was hard to keep up.

The plot is built well and fits with the overarching theme of addiction marvellously (retrospectively, as I didn’t realise it did until the very last page - in the author blurb). The unique take on the Heavens as a normal destination was refreshing and the whole idea with death tokens and magic being time, and the payment being jumping in your own timeline was simply delicious. So creative! Kudos, Ms Forest.

The pacing was strange – the jumps in time connected to the narrative, were executed poorly, leaving me thinking ‘Wait, what? When did this happen? Oh, it’s been three months.’ It was at times a very confusing read.

The characters are not this novel’s strongest point. There is good selection of different narrators, presenting plenty of different points of view but I couldn’t connect emotionally to any of them but Eamon - and the poor lad wasn’t even a POV character! I struggled with hearing their unique voices and had to frequently figure out who was speaking.

Despite that, it is a good tale of sisterhood. It was beautiful to see the three sisters survive together, grow apart and then find each other in a world that had robbed them of adulthood at their own pace.

Rennika is slightly unrealistic to me because she was such a mature, reasonable character – do 11-13-year-olds behave so well? Maybe. I am not convinced.

The writing style is good. But good means things could be better. There were spelling and punctuation mistakes and dubious grammar. Not too many but enough to make me want to mention them. I liked the extensive vocabulary of the author and her ability to tie it to complement a character’s inner world. Overall, well done.

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An amazing book, I was hooked after few pages and had to read it as fast as I could.
The world building was amazing, so complex and realistic.
I loved the plot, the well written cast of characters and the setting.
I look forward to reading other books by this author.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.

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This book was a satisfying fantasy read. This is the story of three sisters possessing magical powers, on a quest to save themselves and the world they lived in before a power hungry king changed it. As the sisters are separated, each finding their own individual skills, the world around them crumbles. This story at once felt unfinished and complete. It felt like a complete story arc but I was left with many questions when the story ended.

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This had a slow start and I wasn’t sure about the very young protagonists initially, but their immaturity serves to show the start of their character journey which proves to be very satisfying. Definitely stick with this one, it’s well worth it. A promising start to a new fantasy series. Full review to come nearer to release date.

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Absolutely loved the world building in the novel. Interesting growth of the characters as they struggle to find their way through the war.

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A gripping, political fantasy novel that I couldn't put down. I loved the Magiel's magic with their shifting skins and found their ability to move things through time intriguing. This book was incredibly unique and differs from anything I have previously read. I would recommend this book to any fantasy reader.

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I really loved the concept of the different prayer stones and the mechanics of the magic/religion system in Bursts of Fire, which is something that I hope is explored in more detail in further books. The particular magic of the Magiels and the manipulation of time, both in their execution of magic and the price they must pay, is one of the best ideas I’ve read about in a long time, especially in how it allows for manipulation of the narrative to explore elements of the future and past, either adding more detail to what has happened or dropping clues as to what might occur at a later date. It was the concept of the Magiels and wanting to learn more about what they could do and how their magic functioned that kept me reading, looking forward to moments when magic was used so that some other event in the timestream might be glimpsed. I love books that feature time travel and it is, I feel, in this instance, done particularly elegantly and not out of keeping with the overall fantasy genre.

However, it’s the narrative itself that I’m still not too sure about. I really enjoyed the opening of the novel and the foreshadowing, but I was left feeling that the story didn’t really go anywhere for a good deal of the book. This is not to say that I wanted to stop reading, though I felt that I was waiting for big events that ultimately didn’t really happen. The sisters themselves have stories that it’s easy to become invested in, with Meg’s perhaps the strongest in this respect, yet it felt a little like watching their lives unfold without their taking much command of events – reacting, rather than driving the story. This said, I would happily read more in this universe, for I cannot say enough good things about the magical elements and the social/religious structures that are presented, and I look forward to the next instalment.

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Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with the ARC. The writing style, world, characters, plot, was all good. I enjoyed myself during the read and that ultimately is what I look for in a book. Will read more from this author in the future!

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Despite the slow slog at the beginning, I think that Bursts of Fire is a fantastic start to what I think will be a riveting series. Forest has developed a truly unique world with an interesting system of magic and gods. The squabbling, spoiled sisters start out as somewhat unlikeable characters but develop into their own over the course of the book as they navigate a world that is falling apart. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series!

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I found this book compelling from the start. There were patches where I got a bit frustrated with it but I did enjoy it overall. I will certainly be looking out for the next in the series.

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If you love epic YA Fantasies, this series seems to be the perfect addition to your TBR.

Right away, I was captured by the writing as we are thrown into this kingdom being overthrown. When no one listens to their mother, the three sisters are quickly swept away from the castle and into the real world.

Each one is guided into a vastly different path, and it was so fun to see it all play out. There are assassins and fighting and magic all forming this great plot. It was engaging and allowed me to fly through the pages.

If you love reading politically-driven fantasies, this will also be a powerful series to read.

I gave this one 4 out of 5 stars. One of the sisters started to get on my nerves, but I think it was a purposeful ploy by the author to hone in on their different personalities and the hurtles they had to individually jump over while on the run.

I can’t wait to see where the next book takes us!

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I signed up for this tour because, well, epic fantasy has always been one of my loves, and this book looked interesting. I’ll admit that the series title, Addicted to Heaven, gave me more than a bit of pause, but as it turns out, the heaven that people are addicted to is nothing like contemporary Western versions of heaven.

Bursts of Fire is very much a part of the epic fantasy tradition. There were times, in fact, when it felt like specific epic fantasies. But it does such a good job of exploring both its new facets and riffing on the stories from which it sprang that it made for a darn good read.

And I was on an airplane and this book was next in my queue. Bursts of Fire turned out to be a terrific book to transition from Worldcon back to “real life” as I traveled from a place where everyone was talking about SF and Fantasy and back to the so-called real world where those discussions are not quite so commonplace.

The story of Bursts of Fire begins in the way that quite a few epic fantasies begin – where the kingdom is under siege and the heir to the throne gets smuggled out of town ahead of the rampaging horde.

And that’s where the differences begin.

The heir isn’t the heir to the throne. And the heir isn’t an heir. Instead, the heiresses to the king’s magical advisor, all three of them, sneak out of the capital with the help of their nanny. Who they still need, as the oldest girl is 17 and the youngest is 11. And none of them have the remotest clue about how to manage on their own – or how to manage period without people waiting on them hand and foot.

They’ll have to figure it out – and somehow manage to grow up, in the midst of a civil war where they are being hunted by both sides. The forces of the usurper believe that all magic is evil – and the rebels just want to use them for their powers.

Powers that they mostly aren’t trained to use. They’re alone, desperate, and on the run. But at least they have each other. Until they don’t.

Whether they can figure out the right course to save themselves, save each other, and save the people that they feel responsible for, is a race against desperation and despair.

And just when they think they might have a chance to right at least a few of the wrongs – they discover just how bad things really, really are.

Escape Rating B+: Bursts of Fire turned out to be a terrific airplane book. Anything that can keep me distracted for 3-4 hours of an 8 hour flight is very much appreciated. And this certainly did.

As has been a relatively recent but also extremely welcome trend in epic fantasy, Bursts of Fire is a heroine’s journey rather than a hero’s journey. Or in this particular case, three heroines’ journeys. At the same time, the story begins on a familiar note, as the chosen one – or in this case chosen ones – are thrown from their original setting to make lives for themselves, and oh-by-the-way save the world.

Part of what does make this a bit different is that there is no mentor character to provide guidance – or for them to rely upon. They lose Nanny almost immediately. She was the one their mother gave the plan to, so the girls are on their own, lost and desperate.

Also very, very young and completely out of their depth. Only the oldest, Meg, has a real clue about just how bad things are and just how much things have changed for them. Little Rennika is too young to understand, and middle-sister Janat is too self-absorbed.

Janat is a character that I never warmed up to, and her self-absorption and unwillingness to grasp their situation continues throughout the story, making this reader grateful that the relatively mature Meg is the primary point of view character.

Meg understands the stakes earliest. Rennika is young enough to adapt. Janat is a problem from beginning to end, a problem that it looks like is only going to get worse.

What’s gone wrong with the kingdom did not make much sense at first. The reader is dropped into the middle of the story, just as the girls escape – and no one seems to know why their ally has suddenly attacked. As the story progresses, it becomes clear – for select definitions of clear – that no one really does know why he went off the rails. They just see the effects – and those effects are gruesome.

War is hell, and civil war is particularly hellish. The rebels want peace and they want to go back to the way things were – as much as is possible after two years of war. The girls, who have become young women fired – or broken – in the crucible of that war want to save as many people as possible, want to reverse the sudden upwelling of prejudice against magic users fostered by the usurper and his advisors, and want to take up the purpose that their family has always undertaken – to visit heaven and intercede with the gods on their people’s behalf.

The magic system of this world is fascinating and different, and their gods are real and act upon their world in ways that can be seen and measured if not countered. The primary manifestation of that magic is the magic users’ uncontrolled shifting through time. Magic has a price, and becoming unmoored from the time you are living is part of that cost.

The glimpses that all three sisters receive of their past, present and future are sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes heartening, and always confusing. It is as much of a curse as a gift, but their ability to intercede with the gods is both powerful and necessary in this cosmos.

That the usurper is determined to break that connection powers his mad campaign against his former allies – and the reasons for that determination are shattering for the kingdom, the reader, and his heir.

That the heroines are all very young leaves this book, and presumably the series it begins, balanced on the knife edge between young adult and adult fantasy. The protagonists may be young adults, but the situations in which they find themselves feel adult in their consequences.

In the end of Bursts of Fire, we, and the characters, know more about the reasons for the fractured state of their world, but are no closer to a resolution. This is a story about a world that is broken – and it is not made whole by the end. There must be future books in this series, and I’m looking forward to reading them.

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This book is exactly how epic fantasy should be written.

It took me a while to get into it, but once I was in, I was in, and I think I read most of the book in one afternoon! The world is interesting and complicated, with high stakes, and easy to cheer for characters. I especially loved the dynamic of the sisters, and how the magic system is never fully explained, but certain aspects are eluded to (like how the girls move in time when they use their magic).

Part of what makes this book so good, is that it takes it time to get to places and builds up the characters and the world. I find some books have trouble balancing the high stakes of the plot, with the smaller arcs for the characters, but this one found a pretty good balance between them. I especially enjoyed some of the sister drama. It’s drama on such a small level compared to what’s happening, but really, the girls are so young, that nobody should be surprised by it.

I’d recommend this to people who love slow-build epic fantasy and want to baste in a world, not rush through it! Overall, a stunning beginning to a series, and I can’t wait for the next one.

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This turned out to be an amazing story in spite of hot mess at the beginning. Yes that's right I thought that initially the writing was terribly fractured as it jumped about giving multiple points of view which meant I had to read sentences again to work out which character the author or her editor had jumped to. Thankfully I persevered and got well and truly sucked into this amazing world although it didn't quite end the way I'd thought.
Essentially we have a society that worship several Gods and also a small faction who want to worship just the one God. In order to go to heaven when you die a person of royal blood and a Magiel ( someone who can perform magic and also travel in time ) must journey to heaven and appeal for tokens enabling the wearer to pass on into heaven and not remain a ghost.
We meet three sisters who are charged with the task of meeting up at a certain point in time in order to change cataclysmic events. What I found ironic was that the author also introduces three brothers whose lives impact on the girls although I hasten to add that essentially it's the sisters who rightly dominate this story. My favourite character was without a doubt Meg as she's brave and resourceful. Plus there's sibling rivalry although these girls are very young and their innocence and naivety all plays a part.
It's a brutal war fought out on these pages and all because of something that isn't explained until the end. Sadly the one person behind all the atrocities doesn't really appear much until the final few chapters. However it's left in such a way that I'm left wondering if just perhaps Meg and a certain brother will become entwined. Yes I admit I'm a hopeless romantic and this fantasy with its unique take on time travel has left me wanting more.
This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair

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