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February 18, 2024

Dance of Stars and Ashes by Nisha Tuli ~ a Review

by MK French

When she arrived in Dharati, Zarya discovered her true power with magic and fighting skills and discovered that the mysterious stranger in her dreams was named Rabin. Now she knows he's a warrior prince, but he's also arrogant and irritating, with dangerous secrets of his own. She wants nothing to do with him, and would rather help her friends complete a ceremony to protect the city. Her mind is fixed on saving her home and finding the origin of her magic. Every step she takes brings her back to Rabin. Is it an enchantment or desire?

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

book cover of fantasy novel Dance of Stars and Ashes by Nisha Tuli
February 2024;  Second Sky; 978-1835251942
audio, ebook, print (400 pages); fantasy

This is the second book of the Nightfire Quartet, following Heart of Night and Fire. It's definitely easier to understand this book if you've read that one, given the mention of anchors for magic involve the five elements, and Zarya has the very rare and frightening sixth anchor. No one can really teach magic properly, as everyone's anchors are slightly different even if they find another person with the same number of anchors. The connections are different, so spells must essentially be recreated over and over again by individuals. Rabin is the glowering presence he had been at the end of the first book, filling the role of the stereotypical bad boy who wants the heroine yet doesn't, and won't allow her to find someone else to make her happy. He baits her and teases her, then grows cold and indifferent. I know it's there to up the tension between them, but I'm personally more annoyed by that kind of treatment than fascinated.

Zarya's grown and no longer resents how she was raised, and her magic allows her to see things that others can't. The threats to her adopted city are increasing, with mythological beings now appearing to be very horribly real. The servant class Vanshaj can see the same things she does, though their magic was locked away due to the horrors their ancestors perpetrated upon the land. Though she tries to research the way her magic works, she doesn't know enough about it due to its rarity. She and others must band together to protect the city from the blight and the encroaching darkness to save the citizens relying on them for safety.

As the second book of the quartet, it deepens our understanding of the magic as well as Zarya's mysterious parentage. We learn more about the different nations and the land they live in, and the need to protect the city is even higher than before due to the new monsters. I loved seeing them, though they made our heroes' lives harder. Betrayal hit hard for Zarya, and I felt for her heartbreak and determination to continue doing the right thing. Overall, this is a great follow-up to the first novel, and I look forward to the rest of the quartet!

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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