Sci-Fi Fairytale: A Review of The Vanished Birds

45422268. sy475 This is when your life begins.”

Nia Imani is a woman out of place and outside of time. Decades of travel through the stars are condensed into mere months for her, though the years continue to march steadily onward for everyone she has ever known. Her friends and lovers have aged past her; all she has left is work. Alone and adrift, she lives only for the next paycheck, until the day she meets a mysterious boy, fallen from the sky.

A boy, broken by his past.

The scarred child does not speak, his only form of communication the beautiful and haunting music he plays on an old wooden flute. Captured by his songs and their strange, immediate connection, Nia decides to take the boy in. And over years of starlit travel, these two outsiders discover in each other the things they lack. For him, a home, a place of love and safety. For her, an anchor to the world outside of herself.

For both of them, a family.

But Nia is not the only one who wants the boy. The past hungers for him, and when it catches up, it threatens to tear this makeshift family apart.

This is such a huge shift for me. Now, I’m all about some science fiction, and y’all know I adore fantasy. But this story is such an odd combo of both, and it works!

Let me explain. Most science fiction I’ve grown up reading is technical. The world’s dying, we gotta go into space. (Check on this story.) We colonize planets and make leaps and bounds with technology, purely for survival. (Another check.) There’s some big bad who’s not even really evil, but with a totally different ideology. (Big ol’ check.)

But the style to The Vanished Birds reads more like a beautiful fairy tale. We don’t even really learn about our main characters until chapter two! Nia is portrayed in the first chapter as an ageless goddess from the skies. In actuality, she’s the captain of a trade ship, running away from her past.

The boy is a pure mystery, and we keep hoping he comes into his own.

A dazzling debut novel, I give The Vanished Birds 5 out of 5 flutes.

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