We’ll be honest; we were a little hesitant about another foray into a magical world, another story of magical teens and their lives, loves and losses. But Skyborn is something quite different.
Magic is presented in this post-global catastrophe world as something more akin to science, supported with faith. There are relatively few people left in this world; they live on floating islands controlled by a central government, and combat between the regions has strict rules to ensure that there are as few deaths as possible while maintaining their territories.
Skyborn follows a pair of twins and their entry into an Academy for flying soldiers/peacekeepers, known as Seraphim, who battle in the air and can work to master the power to use ice, fire, stone, or lightning.
Breanna is an aggressively ambitious perfectionist, while Kale is understandably more reluctant; both attitudes stem from the fact that their parents died in battle. It’s a somewhat simplistic approach to story-telling, but offers the range that would be missing were the novel to focus on one twin over the other.
There’s a cinematic feel to the novel; sweeping landscapes, aerial battles and showy tech all contribute to a very well-realised world, and one that springs to life. There are some wonderful analogies to be found in the construction of the society as well; Skyborn not only grabs you with its story, but invites the reader to examine their own views on authority and what a governing body should morally be capable of.
However, one of our few criticisms is that the relationships between the characters don’t feel genuine, and derive more from plot-driven convenience. It’s a minor, if recurrent, quibble, particularly with love interests.
But Skyborn fully accomplishes that elusive fantasy fiction goal: creating a believable world, while maintaining a variety of fantastical elements. It’s one of those rare, well-blended tales, where you’re so expertly introduced to more and more of the world that you find yourself picturing it with ease.