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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Book Review: Untethered Sky by Fonda Lee

BOOK review
Started on: 21 April 2024
Finished on: 2 May 2024
Title: Untethered Sky
Author: Fonda Lee
Publisher: Tordotcom
Pages: 152 pages / 152 pages (e-book)
Year of Publication: 2023
Price: $5.99 (

Rating: 4/5
"What I would give to return to those days, riding together across the country on a perfect morning, a roc balanced in the air above us like an angel guarding our happiness."
A manticore ruined Ester's life when it devoured her mother and baby brother, leaving her with nothing but her father's silence and the overwhelming need to kill the monster that took her family. And so she begins her journey in the King's Royal Mews, where giant rocs are flown to hunt manticores by trained and courageous ruhkers. Ester was paired with a fledgling roc named Zahra, with whom she found purpose and devoted her life to a calling that demanded absolute sacrifice. Their partnership leads Ester on the empire's most dangerous manticore hunt—which will challenge her perseverance. 

"Nature and fate are their own capricious monsters, ones that cannot be tamed any more than a roc ever truly belongs to her ruhker."
Novellas are usually not my cup of tea because the length is relatively short and tends to lack characterization—most of the time. However, as a fan of The Green Bone Saga, I can't resist reading this book to experience Fonda Lee's incredible writing again. As I expected, this short book made me unable to fully immerse in its world, and I feel the characterization wasn't deep enough for me to connect with them. Even so, the author was able to make me feel the intensity, and I was on the edge of my seat during a particular scene. When I reached the end of this book, I wished Fonda Lee had taken the time to make it into a full-fledged novel. Nevertheless, if you're also a fan of Fonda Lee's writing, this novella is definitely worth reading.
"You must be leashed to this cadge and kept in this pen, and you must never fly free as you were born to do, because I will never be free of you either, and we are partners in our captivity, each perfectly monstrous in our own way." 
Untethered Sky is written from the first POV of the main character, Ester. We first met her when she was paired with her fledgling roc, Zahra. As the story goes, Ester recounted the day when her life was ruined because a manticore savagely killed her mother and baby brother. Despite her fear of that demonic monster, Ester grew a desire to be the monster that kills other monsters—which led her to pursue her calling and become a ruhker, someone who partners with a roc to hunt down manticores. The scene when Ester first encountered the manticore was incredibly intense and made me feel like I was witnessing it with her. Fonda Lee successfully paints a menacing picture of the manticore and makes readers understand the importance of a ruhker's role in this world. Besides Ester's relationship with Zahra, we're also introduced to Darius, another ruhker who befriends Ester and accompanies her hunting. Unfortunately, I wasn't too invested in their relationship and didn't care much about them. As I've said earlier, novellas tend to lack characterization which caused my indifference towards them.
The best part of this book for me is The Great Hunt—when ruhkers collaborate with the army to hunt down manticores. Since it's the climax, the tension and stakes are high, and I can feel my heart beating faster when I read it. The author described the scene so vividly and pulled me into the story. What happened towards the end was also emotionally impactful—which I think is an incredible feat considering the shortness of this book. Despite what happened to both Ester and Darius, I'm glad the story ended on a hopeful note.
"If only people were as simple and instinctive as raptors."

Reading this novella satisfied my longing for Fonda Lee's writing. Even with just about 150 pages, she successfully delivered the tension and emotions well to the readers. Although Untethered Sky didn't become a favorite book of mine, it made me crave more stories from Fonda Lee. I can't wait to see what kind of tale she will craft next, but I will not hesitate to pick it up immediately. Hopefully, I won't have to wait too long!

by.stefaniesugia♥ .

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