If you've been on BookTok for more than 35 seconds, you've heard of AK Mulford. They're the author of the wildly popular HIGH MOUNTAIN COURT series that went viral on TikTok and led to a book deal with Harper Voyager...yeah, them! You've heard me gush about Ali and their books on multiple episodes of the podcast, and my praise and awe have only grown with their latest release: A RIVER OF GOLDEN BONES.
A RIVER OF GOLDEN BONES is the first in the GOLDEN COURT trilogy, which promises to be an action packed romantasy series with AK Mulford's signature writing style and diverse cast of characters. Just as in the HIGH MOUNTAIN COURT series, the GOLDEN COURT has already begun with characters of all sexualities, gender identities, races, and even species (helllloooo, wolf shifters!). Oh, and it's a loosely based SLEEPING BEAUTY retelling.
You'll easily fall in love with Calla (she/they), the lead in A RIVER OF GOLDEN BONES. After their parents' tragic and untimely deaths, a fairy raises twins Briar and Calla in secret to honor their mother's dying wish, that they be protected until Briar's wedding day. Because of court politics and outdated practices, Briar (of the fallen Golden Wolves) has been betrothed to Grae, heir to the Silver Wolves, to unite their packs and strengthen the line of succession. Calla was a surprise no one expected, and, since their mother died during childbirth, very few even know that Calla exists. Once Briar is married and that alliance is formed, Calla can reveal herself as a Golden heir without threat to themself or Briar, who is poised and ready to play the royal role and do her pack duty in continuing the line and producing litters. Unfortunately for Calla, they've always been drawn to their best friend Grae, and the thought of Grae marrying Briar is devastating.
Did I mention there's an evil sorceress? On Briar's wedding day, disaster (and Sawyn) strikes and fated mates are revealed, casting every aspect of their perfectly laid plans into doubt. Briar is left under an indefinite sleeping curse and Calla must flee in order to save her sister--and so much more. On this journey-turned-heist, Calla must also face the boxes that society has placed them in, and how those boxes have never fit who Calla is. While Calla journeys to save their own world, they also go on a journey of self-reflection and discovery of their truest identity. Along the way, they meet the most incredible found family that will feel for so many readers like going home.
I'll never understand how AK Mulford writes such incredibly powerful stories that aren't difficult reads. We all know that sometimes, especially in fantasy books, the reader can feel so bogged down by the world-building and minute details that it can be difficult to see the big picture of the story--things can get confusing rapidly. That, to me, has never been the case with AK Mulford. They write in a way that is easy to follow while creating worlds you just fall into, as if you've always been there. Their worlds are as diverse as their characters (although I'll admit, every time Calla and crew passed a random character, I was hyper-focused on details about them searching for cameos from my HMC crew) and even though this is a fantasy setting, they put their characters through very real-life experiences that so many will relate to. They truly have a special gift for making people from so many life experiences feel welcome, seen, and accepted. (Note: of course there are life experiences, I'm sure, that haven't been visited by AK yet, because there are endless life experiences out there and, so far at the time of this review, only 5 published AK Mulford books. I generalize here, of course, but you can tell that AK puts in the work to make as many who may be or feel marginalized to see that they are represented in a book as possible, and I can only see that number of people growing as AK releases more books.)
I truly couldn't get enough of A RIVER OF GOLDEN BONES. Once again, AK Mulford does not disappoint in doing the most to ensure that people of all identities are seen and represented in an epic tale of adventure and romance.
Love and singing with Ora,
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the author and have voluntarily written this review with my honest feedback. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop.org affiliate link above, I will receive a small commission and you'll support local indies! If you purchase a copy using my Amazon affiliate link above, I will receive a small commission which I will use to justify my literary addictions and to spoil my dogs (probably).