Have you ever read a book that immediately sweeps you into its world so fast it feels tangible? Sting Magic,, the first book in The Empire of War & Wings series by Sarah K. L. Wilson does that for me.
I read a lot of books I like, and I read a lot of books I love. But it’s rare that a book becomes an insta favorite within the first pages. Wilson immediately transports the reader into her world and into the mind of Aella, the POV character, and her family’s fight against the strange Forbidding magic.
Just one scene and I was hooked.
The magic system and world building created in this book is wonderful. Magic comes in the form of manifestations of spirit birds, each one as individual as their manifestors. And as we discover, birds aren’t the only things people can manifest.
The juxtaposition between the wild danger of Aella’s homeland and the refined danger of the Empire is exquisite. Both are dangerous, and both are cruel. And their clash against each other is devastating.
What takes this book from great and launches it into the stratosphere of the best books I’ve ever read is the characters, in particular Aella. Her voice shines through the words on the page. Her frustrations. Her visceral reactions. It feels like I’m her—no, like I am her. Her fury is my fury, her pain my pain. It made me want to drop right into the story and fight alongside her.
Even transient characters who only appear once or twice feel rounded, like real people. Each one could be someone standing in front of me. I learned just as much about the supporting characters as I did the main one. And all of this happens without any in-your-face backstory or heavy-handedness. The small details Wilson expertly weaves through the narrative makes you love (or hate) them almost subconsciously.
I’ve been intrigued by this book since it’s cover reveal. When the author offered copies to her newsletter subscribers, I jumped at the chance. I’m so, so glad I did. Every single aspect of this book leaves me wanting more. I want to overturn every rock and uncover everything about this world that Sarah K. L. Wilson has created.
Sign my name in scarlet, I’m a fangirl for this book and Sarah K.L. Wilson until the end. I can’t wait to read the next one.
Buy it here and buckle up, you’re in for a great ride.