{A Twist in the Tail Double Review} FEATHERS OF SNOW and FEATHERS OF BLOOD by Alice Ivinya

Love fairy tales and mythology?
Fans of mermaids, dragons, unicorns, and other mythical creatures?
Enjoy when a beloved classic tale is retold?
A Twist in the Tail Thursdays features all this and more!

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

 ONCE UPON A TIME, the world was a wilder place than it is today.
The forests were ruled by the mighty wolf, Sal'hadar, the plains by the beautiful white horse, Tamunden, the air by the enormous eagle, Thrum'ban, and the water by the black whale, Bula.
   Everything was at peace and in balance. Humans were few and each lived in one of the four tribes, following the guidance of the land, and the law of the Beasts was in their blood.
   But then a new race of humans came from across the sea. They were shorter lived and small in stature. They could not feel the power of the land, nor see the balance of nature. 
   The land collapsed into war as the new race wished to twist all to its purpose. Their numbers grew and grew. After decades of fighting, the Beasts and old humans were left with a choice; learn to live alongside the new race and teach them to curb their appetite, or upset the balance of power to make themselves strong enough to resist them.
   The land was torn in two. In the south, man and Beast learned to live together and the power of the land dwindled beneath human rule. To the frozen north, the Beasts and old men resisted and fed off deep forbidden magic. 
   And so the power of nature dwindled and the age of the Beasts ended.

(Page 1, US e-ARC edition)

“Part of me wanted to skip this stage, where everything was so uncertain, to when I felt secure with Jian. But I also didn't want to miss a single moment. There was always the fear I would mess this up and it wouldn't last.


I always get excited when I see a retelling centered around one of my favorite fairy tales, and even more so when it is full of an original new story and the two blend well and become something new and hard to put down. I was so happy to find such a spin on The Goose Girl when I picked up FEATHERS OF SNOW and was so excited that FEATHERS OF BLOOD published this week so I could go straight from one book to the next. (But of course, it's a trilogy, so now I must wait for more!)

In the original Brothers Grimm tale of The Goose Girl, a princess is traveling to her betrothed with her maid, and the maid betrays her. The two switch places, with the maid becoming the princess and the princess becoming a Goose Girl, unable to tell the truth of her tale. In FEATHERS OF SNOW, there is a bit of a twist in the core of the tale: Our princess is Elyanna, a spoiled, mean-spirited girl who has always delighted in being cruel to her childhood companion, Brianna. When Elyanna decides she doesn't want to cross the border and wed Prince Jian, whom rumors have painted in a brutal light, she and her mother work up a scheme for Elyanna and Brianna to switch places on the journey and blackmail Brianna into doing as she is told. Elyanna gets to live in isolation, free of her responsibilities, and Brianna, she says, will live the life of a pampered princess. Brianna is terrified and reluctant to step into her new role, but does it for the sake of her family. Along the way, she finds herself developing real feelings for the elusive Prince Jian and thinks that maybe she could be happy after all, but when his older brother dies and leaves him heir to the throne, Elyanna returns to claim the title of Queen and brings with her a wild tale and threat of danger that could destabilize the entire nature....

I really enjoyed seeing Brianna grow and evolve over the course of two books, sort of the way we watch characters like Celaena Sardothien from Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass or Elisa de Riqueza from The Girl of Fire and Thorns grow a backbone over the course of the series and step up into roles they thought beyond them in order to bring peace and prosperity to the kingdoms they love despite the danger to themselves.

The magic that trickled in early on in the series and became a full-blown, new path that shaped FEATHERS OF BLOOD really elevated the story and changed it from a simple retelling to a powerful new tale with high stakes where you have become so invested in the characters, you can't stop turning pages because you have to know what will happen to them next. This world has a wildness to it, where Beasts once ruled, not humans, and the old magic is both dangerous and breath-taking. Humans and Beasts alike will stop at nothing to control the land and the power beneath it or quench it once and for all. Brianna is caught up in a dangerous game and many mistrust her, but she is also the realm's only savior, if only she can overcome her terrors and accept the brave heroine lying within that she's destined to embrace.

The relationships also developed at a great pace, neither too slow nor too fast. I love the slowburn of the romance between Brianna and Jian, who go from the ultimate indifference to true feelings for one another that are tested to new heights once Elyanna and her destruction come back into the picture. Even the relationship with Elyanna is intriguing. Elyanna is a horrible person and fundamentally shaped and changed Brianna, stealing her backbone and bravery and caring only for herself, her wants, and her needs. She steals everything she can from Brianna, never wanting her to be happy, and it is interesting to see the path she is on -- she makes a good villain, but when, in FEATHERS OF BLOOD, readers encounter the true villain of the series, it paints her in an even crueler light. The twists and turns are really what makes the series for me!

I really like how this series is both a mix of a tale I know and love, but shapes up into something so much larger and really breaks open the tale, uses all the best elements, and creates its own path. Those are always the very best retellings for me, especially when a strong heroine emerges. You know it's a good book when you're left wanting more, and after FEATHERS OF BLOOD, I'm already desperate to get my hands on the final book in the trilogy and see how it all comes together for these characters I've spent so much time alongside and grown to care for. It can't come soon enough!


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( Kissing )
Language: --
Violence: PG13 ( Death of humans, death of feral Beasts; a beloved horse is killed for spite. Not super graphic but there is blood shed on the page during battles. )
Other:  --
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

The two covers go together and match, which I like, but the styles are jarringly different and don't necessarily scream they are from the same series to me. But I like the mirrored angles and the composition still catches my eye and made me sit up and take notice!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Alice Ivinya
Release Date: February 12, 2021
Publisher: Alice Ivinya
Received: For Review

In Brianna’s new world of ice and snow, the coldest things by far are the eyes of her betrothed...

Brianna bears a deadly secret: she’s not the princess she is pretending to be. If the prince finds out, her life will be forfeit and her country plunged into war.

But there is more to the icy prince than meets the eye, and Brianna slowly unravels the secrets of his dark past while surviving in a strange culture.

However her goodness and wit will only get her so far. Terrifying beasts stalk the border and a murderer is at work in the town. They know the truth of Brianna’s identity and will stop at nothing to destroy all she has fought for.  

Author: Alice Ivinya
Release Date: October 6, 2021
Publisher: Alice Ivinya 
Received: For Review

Rejected by her betrothed and banished into the wilderness, Brianna finds herself broken-hearted with nowhere to turn. She wants nothing more than to be left alone.

But greater threats loom across the Border, and there are whispers of war on the breeze. The Spirit-Beasts are coming and Brianna might be the only thing that can stand in their way and stop the massacre of a nation.

But to do this she will have to face her worst enemy, who wants nothing more than to see her dead, and, worse, the man she once loved who let her down.