Review: “A Spark of White Fire” by Sangu Mandanna


Release Date: September 11, 2018
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Series: Celestial Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy


In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back.

Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali.

It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart.

Inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories, A Spark of White Fire is a lush, sweeping space opera about family, curses, and the endless battle between jealousy and love.” (via Goodreads)

My Thoughts

SparkOfWhiteFire-coverMost relevant to our purposes here is the Mahābhārata, which tells the story of two feuding cousins and the kingdom they battled over. It’s a massive poem, much bigger than the famous Homeric epics, and is sprawling in content and complexity. Gods, nobles, spouses, and children converge and conflict across ancient India, and the early tenets of Hinduism are hashed out and affirmed. Adapting the Mahābhārata into a young adult science fiction/fantasy story requires dexterity, attention to detail, and a willingness to break all the rules. It shouldn’t work—I’m certainly not brave enough to attempt such a feat—but Mandanna succeeds … for the most part. I adored the premise and marveled at how she twisted and reshaped the ancient poem into a futuristic melodrama. However, where the premise burns hot and the plot sparks wildly, the characters fizzle out…

To read the rest of my review, head over to

A usurper king.

A jealous prince.

An old warrior.

A cursed mother.

A war goddess.

And a girl.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the girl is irrelevant. The other players are powerful, important, the kinds of people around whom legends are spun. They are might pieces on the board. The girl, on the other hand, is a pawn, noticed by almost no one, the least important piece in the game. She has no wealth, no glory, no power, and no family.

But she’s not irrelevant.

I’m not irrelevant.

Thanks to Sky Pony Press for sending me a review copy.

Do the world a favor and buy this from an indie bookstore or borrow it from your local public library.

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