This is a story of survival and contrasts, culture clashes and secrets.
It has such a fascinating mix of technology and magic (I thought it was sci-fi at first, but now I think it’s epic fantasy!) with a city in the sky and a city down below — and neither acknowledging the other exists. Until a boy crashes his plane Below and finds this whole other world on the brink of destruction and a goddess with missing magical powers trying to save them all.
I was excited for a new series from this author duo!
I really loved Kaufman and Spooner’s first trilogy, These Broken Stars! The Other Side of the Sky gave me tons of similar vibes too: survival on an unknown planet, lots of odd creatures lurking in the jungles, and super intricate world building. I definitely think the focus in this book was world building > characters. I did like the characters, but the world was so vast and fascinating. There’s deadly mist that can murder you or bless you with magic powers. Steel can stop magic. There are plane gliders and engines that suspend whole cities thousands of metres up in the air. There are living deities vs calculating kings. Prophecies and destinies! If you choose to believe them…
The story is mostly set in Below. This world of harsh survival and rivers and jungle. Everyone mostly lives on boats in the water, and life revolves around the goddess who is meant to save them all. (There are also cultists who want to murder her, ya know. We all have our pests.) I reeeeally was interested in the sky cities though, but I have a feeling that will be in the sequel.
Below they think the people in the sky are gods. In the sky, they think there’s nothing Below. The collision of the two cultures when North falls to the ground is a clash of culture and confusion. North believes in technology while Nimh believes in magic. (And I did laugh how North is like “Science is real because you can explain it.” And Nimh is like, “Okay explain your watch.” North: “jafdskld um…sciencey stuff…ajfdkslad.” 😂😂😂)
Okay so we have two alternating points of view: North and Nimh.
Nimh is a goddess who can never be touched. She takes her job very seriously, but she’s lonely and worried she’s a fraud because her powers haven’t manifested yet. She thinks North is part of a prophecy that will save them all. She also has a CAT. The BINDLE CAT. Who is opinionated and demanding and wonderful!! 10/10 to the cat.
North is a lovely and polite dumbass, which we stan quite frankly. He’s a prince in the sky and he has lots of grand ideas and schemes, that are all…terrible. And go wrong. 😂I did enjoy his chapters the most.
There’s also lots of casual queer rep which was AMAZING. In the Sky, North has two mothers (his bloodmother and his heartmother 🥺💛) and he’s in love with his two best friends and they plan to all marry and make a Three! 😭💛 Down Below, there’s also sapphic side characters and none of this is questioned. It just is, which I really liked.
I do think though, that because the book was world focused, instead of character focused, I missed a lot of connection I’d love to have. Nimh goes through some things I was waiting for her to really be shaken by, but…she sort of just gets over it. North is supposed to be in love with his best friends but once he’s Below he barely thinks of them and really quickly gets this crush on Nimh. And the villain just didn’t seem scary to me oops.
it’s a thick and fascinating tome with intricate world building and layers of prophecy and entangled magic.
There are some great twists, aching loneliness in the characters, and desperation to be known and understand for who you are, not who you were told you should be.
Thanks Allen & Unwin for the review copy! The Other Side of the Sky by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner is out Sept 1, 2020.
Two worlds, two hearts and a choice that will shape their fate forever.
Prince North’s home is in the sky, in a gleaming city held aloft by intricate unknown technology. But North believes his sky island is sinking. Its engines are failing, and the key to saving his home is to venture to the place the engines were first created.
Nimh is the living goddess of her people on the surface, responsible for providing answers, direction – hope. But in the midst of the surface’s worst crisis yet, a mist that spreads madness and poison, doubts have arisen among the people about Nimh’s divinity. She must find a way to manifest her power – before she is overthrown, and all is lost.
North’s and Nimh’s lives are entwined – though their hearts can never be. Linked by a terrifying prophecy and caught between duty and fate, they must choose to either save their people, or succumb to the bond that is forbidden to them.
have you read any of the other books by these two authors? do you prefer scifi or fantasy? 😍