Title: A Grave of Flowers
Author: Priscylla Attler
Series: A Tale of Flowers and Stars Book #1
Publisher: Independently published
Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQ+
First Publication: 2022
Book Summary: A Grave of Flowers by Priscylla Attler
16-year old Nulla has been discriminated against her entire life for her colorism – a genetic illness that gave her bright, colorful features. While her family once sheltered and isolated her for her own protection, this seclusion was not enough to protect her from her own unusual power, a power that is both dangerous and life-saving.
Nulla’s friend, Ani, is slated to become the next Child of Dead, a role that is feared by many. Terrified of his fate, Ani decides to escape his home country, bringing Nulla, her twin brother, and his best friend Zephr in tow.
However, their escape plans are quickly turned upside down when Nulla is kidnapped and sold to a mad scientist performing human experiments on Colors and Ani is hunted down by Dianne – a previous Child of Death wanting to punish Ani for escaping his fate. As Nulla suffers at the hands of her cruel captor, can she learn to control her power in time to save herself?
Book Review: A Grave of Flowers by Priscylla Attler
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a young adult fantasy book that completely captivated me and broke the pattern of predictable plotting that I’ve come to identify with stories in this genre. Although A Grave of Flowers wasn’t perfect, it did present a story that had never been told before. It was a fast-paced urban fantasy that dealt with topics such as loss, inherited trauma, the legacies of colonisation and chattel slavery, and what it means to be a person of colour, redefining the myths that we had always believed to be unchangeable.
Because of her colorism, a congenital disease that causes her to have brilliant and colourful features, Nulla, who is now 16 years old, has been subjected to discrimination throughout her whole life. Even though her family had hidden and kept her away from others for her own safety in the past, this isolation was not enough to shield her from the peculiar power that she has, an ability that may both endanger her life and save it. Nulla’s friend Ani has been chosen to fill the role of the next Child of Dead, which is a position that many people dread. Ani, terrified of his impending doom, makes the courageous decision to flee his home country with Nulla and her twin brother Zephyr.
However, their well laid preparations for escape are abruptly thrown into chaos. Nulla is abducted and sold to a crazy doctor who does human experiments on colours, while Ani is chased down by Dianne, a prior Child of Death who wants to punish Ani for escaping his destiny. Can Nulla, who is being tormented by her ruthless abductor, learn to control her powers in time to free herself? As they flee a tyrannical regime, this group of teens finds themselves in a race against time. This narrative has a lot going on, and as readers, we are forced to stumble along with the main character, Nulla, as she experiences everything for the first time.
From the very beginning of A Grave of Flowers, I was completely hooked because the pace was both consistent and rapid. The meticulous planning and execution that went into the writing of Priscylla’s prose is made clear by the way her plot develops on the page. I was astounded by the minute details that were included in the explanation of the magic system. Each chapter is packed with a lot of action and reveals a lot of information, which had me gasping for air and terribly engrossed in what was going to happen next.
A Grave of Flowers contains a cast made up of several diverse characters, which is always something wonderful to see represented in fantasy fiction! Our protagonist, Nulla, has a genetic illness that gave her bright, colourful features. Priscylla perfectly includes commentary on discrimination, colonialism, and exploitation in Nulla’s narrative, which is great to see brought up in a fantasy novel. These important topics played a really significant role in the outcome of this story, and ended up giving me an added perspective. Nulla’s character was a really strong lead; her voice became steadily more powerful as the novel progressed. Priscylla does a great job developing her side characters as well, and when considering the large number of them, it’s an impressive feat.
The world building is intense. Priscylla is meticulous as she constructs a complicated world, and although she does explain some details, she avoids giving away too much information to the reader. In each and every chapter, another layer was peeled back, which revealed a great deal of information regarding the world as well as Nulla. Priscylla Attler does a wonderful job of combining LGBTQ fantasy elements that I never would have thought were compatible with one another. She also weaves these fantastical components in with very real concerns such as grief, discrimination, tyranny, and inheritance. What an astonishing debut.