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April 9, 2022

In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power ~ a Review

by MK French

Rhea controls the weather and her twin brother Lexos controls the tides, keeping their country safe and the loyal nobles rewarded. They protect each other and their younger siblings as their father rules over them, holding his power over death over everyone. There's an independence movement rising within the country and other nations are pushing for power. The twins travel outside their country's borders to save their family, and learn there might be other ways to rule than with fear.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of mythological novel In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power
April 2022; Del Rey; 978-0593354971
audio, ebook, print (432 pages); mythology

In a Garden Burning Gold
 is the first book of a duology, and Rory has a great command of character and prose. She wrote Wilder Girls and Burn Our Bodies Down (my review here:, so if you liked those books, this one is certainly worth a look. This novel incorporates Greek-based names for characters and countries, which I don't see too often. Rhea must marry a consort, whose life ends in order to give her control over the weather. Her older twin Lexos is their father's heir apparent, and the two are at odds regarding the severity of the potential rebellion. Their younger siblings Chrysanthi and Nitsos control nature and build automatons, respectively, but don't have the same pressure to conform to their father's plans as the twins do. Their father demands respect and deference at all times, even from his enhanced children; any name he speaks during prayer will die, for he controls death. But he isn't acting as formidable as usual, breaking rules on comportment he set for the family and the country. This sets multiple plots in motion, from the separatists to the other powered rulers that are tired of their father.

As brilliantly as this was done, I'm not sure that I actually like most of the characters. Rhea and Chrysanthi have my fondness and sympathy, passed over as tools for powerful men. Lexos annoyed me quite a bit throughout his chapters, and his plan to save his family supported the general status quo. Sending Rhea away and calling her by nicknames she didn't like and discounting her wishes rankled. Maybe I'm meant to, and I'm supposed to want this establishment taken down. Some of the other characters aren't as fully fleshed out, but we see them from Rhea's or Lexos' POV and they don't really engage with a lot of secondary characters. It's too bad, because I'm sure their stories would be fascinating as well.

This book starts out slowly and picks up the pace about halfway through. It might be a consequence of all the world-building, as it's a fantasy location and isn't as grounded in our real world as her other books. As the first part of a duology, this certainly must do a lot of heavy lifting in the world-building department. We reach a conclusion at the end, and it's an unsettling one that I'm sure will be explored throughout the second novel.

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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  1. i feel it's alright to not like all the characters or even any of the characters. i love when an author can do that for me. i do love to hate the characters as much as i love to love them. lol
    sherry @ fundinmental