I’m kicking off today with my very belated stop on the Escapists Tours blog tour for A Bond of Thread by Allegra Pescatore & J.P. Burnison, the first book in the Moutain Fell series. Please do check out the other blogs that participated in the tour to see their thoughts on this book.
Disclaimer – I received a copy in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.
Enter the Nine Lands of the Mountain Fell.
Skye has only ever known pain and solitude since waking up with neither memories or magic. Hunted for being a Ruler in a time when they are scarce, she has survived in the wilds near the Rim, always on the run from the rest of her kind. Only starvation could draw her close to a village, but when a chance encounter and a bit of bad luck launch her into the arms of a man whose soul is bonded to hers, hiding who she is may no longer be possible.
Ilyas is a hunted man. Wanted for killing the last High Queen of Vine, he is plagued by his past of wholesale slaughter. He never wanted another Queen, and certainly not a half-feral, distrustful girl who gave up on the Fae a long time ago. Unfortunately, Soulbonds are not so easily walked away from, no matter how hard they both may want to, especially when trapped together in a cave with a pack of Feral Fae right outside.
With long-held enmities breaking out between the besieged villagers and all their lives on the line, Ilyas and Skye must learn to work together and trust each other if they want to survive.
I have loved Prescatore’s previous works, so this was one I had to pick up and overall it was an entertaining read, although it left me with somewhat mixed feelings –
Firstly, there is a bonus point for the map. I love a map, and the one in A Bond of Thread is a great example of how you can play with maps and is another example of how this book takes a relatively limited geographical scope and gives it depth and keeps the excitement building. There are also some handy guides to the fae and their society at the beginning (and I actually really appreciate having that info at the start, rather than having to flick all the way to the end! But that is a personal preference), and again is another nod to the worldbuilding that has gone into the book, and the authors have done an amazing job with that aspect of the book.
This is a geographically limited world, and yet the authors have built up a layered and detailed society with a history and weight of lore that makes it feel far more expansive than the geography. The multi-layered society from High to lesser fae and the fair folk, is both a wonderful exploration of what fae can encompass, and that is before we even get into the role that the gentry like Skye play in this world and the hierarchy that develop around them. Prescatore and Burnison have shaped a truly interesting society here, and even though a lot of elements like magic and soulbonds are essentially predetermined and just part of who the fae are, a gift (depending on your point of view), there is still very much a feeling of conflict and stakes. There are cultural conflicts, language barriers, and the threat of the void-corrupted, along with the intrigue of a society like this, made for an engaging read.
Soul bonds. I ADORE soul bonds, and there are just so many ways to play with the concept and they can range from the positive to the negative and everything in between, so as soon as I realised this book dealt with that concept I was invested. It was one of my favourite aspects of the book as well, especially as the authors have taken such an interesting approach to it – where it goes from an unwanted bond, mired in history and memory, and personality clashes, to something that brings closeness and a strength. I like to see there be complications and a struggle, whether internal or external when dealing with this kind of bond, and in A Bond of Thread that is captured really well on multiple levels, and I like that it shaped both the relationship and the conflict between our main characters.
However, this is also one of the areas that gave me conflict. I love soul bonds, and the main characters here are the complex, messy characters I have come to expect from a book that Prescatore is involved with, and as individuals even when they frustrate me and I want to shout at them, I am invested in them. Yes, Ilyas is a bit of an asshole (or a lot of an asshole depending on how you want to look at it) and it certainly took me longer to warm to him than Skye, but the characterisation makes this work. We get to see why they are both how they are, the events that have shaped them, and I love seeing how their pasts are influencing their present and future, and how they work through that while dealing with their situation and the events around them. It’s our point of connection, and the characters are absolutely the strongest part of the book for me.
But, despite that I was not sold on their relationship, even taken into account the fact that I loved how the soul bond was portrayed between them, and the fact that it did feel like the authors gave the relationship time to develop as they learned to work together and temper the parts of themselves that were like oil and water at times. Now, I will readily admit this might be more due to personal preference more than anything, but as well as the development was done, it felt like more time was needed to work through the issues at hand – and I feel that Ilyas was not quite at the point of being redeemed from his assholery to a point where I could truly invest in the relationship between them, at the moment, there is still enough jagged parts that it’s not quite there for me – but again personal preference.
However, this is book one,
Which is why, I think this is a book that needs its sequels. Not for its world – the authors have done a fantastic job of establishing the world already, while leaving the scope for us as the reader to discover more as the story unfolds; but to see where this soul bond and relationship, and the other relationships (romantic or platonic) that are promised by Skye’s search for her other bonded. Whether or not those relationships fall into friendship or romance, it will temper and shape the bond with Ilyas, and I am interested to see whether that counterbalance helps or harms it. For me, A Bond of Thread felt like a beginning and we’ve been left with a clear path forward, and we need to see where that goes – and I think this is a book that I will revisit once I’ve read at least the next book, to see if those elements that didn’t quite mesh for me look different in the light of the wider context.
That said, I did enjoy A Bond of Thread and it’s always interesting to see a co-authored book. Overall, this was an entertaining read, and I enjoyed the worldbuilding especially as fae is not something I typically read and I liked the spin the authors took on the world, and I loved seeing soulbonds have such a dominant feature in the story. This is a series I will be continuing, because as I said I feel like this was a foundation-building book and that I need more of the series to really get a feel for it. Definitely a book to pick up if like me you’re fascinated with interesting plays on soul bond, or you enjoy fae stories with a complex world/society, that brings something different to fae romances.
Allegra grew up in a small village in northern Tuscany as the daughter of two artists. She was raised on the works of J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Phillip Pullman, Frank Herbert, and many others, all read aloud to her while she drew and played make-believe. She began to write at the age of eight and hasn’t stopped since.
After many moves and dozens of countries visited, she now lives in a cozy cottage in Western PA. She is accompanied in her current adventures by husband Job, co-conspirator and long-time writing partner Tobias, and a small army of furry and scaly pets. When not writing or daydreaming, Allegra rules her kitchen with an iron first and feeds everyone who walks through her door. She also gardens, dabbles in various art forms, and spins stories for her tabletop gaming group.
As a disabled woman and staunch LGBTQ ally, Allegra hopes to write engaging, diverse, and representative Fantasy and Science Fiction, where people who do not often see themselves center stage get the chance to shine.
Her debut book, Where Shadows Lie, was an SPFBO Semi-Finalist and is a CIBA award finalist. It is the first book of The Last Gift series, and the first title of Project Ao, by Ao Collective Publishing. Other titles in Project Ao include NACL: Eye of the Storm (2021 SPFBO Semi-Finalist) and A Bond of Thread.
Co-author of The Mountain Fell series, along with Allegra and E. Sands, Justin joined the team in 2019 to help create the Fae Lands. Working as a tight-knit team, the three writers use a collaborative back-and-forth style to craft the action and adventure in the upcoming series. Justin lives in Florida with his spouse, Quinn, and two fuzzy and rambunctious cats.