Book Reviews

Review: The Surviving Sky by Kritika Rao

The Surviving Sky is a fantasy debut for fans of intricate relationships, philosophical fantasy, and those who love books about the value of the humanities. It’s an utter delight and really makes you think after finishing. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


High above a jungle-planet float the last refuges of humanity—plant-made civilizations held together by tradition, technology, and arcane science. In these living cities, architects are revered above anyone else. If not for their ability to psychically manipulate the architecture, the cities would plunge into the devastating earthrage storms below.

Charismatic, powerful, mystical, Iravan is one such architect. In his city, his word is nearly law. His abilities are his identity, but to Ahilya, his wife, they are a way for survival to be reliant on the privileged few. Like most others, she cannot manipulate the plants. And she desperately seeks change.

Their marriage is already thorny—then Iravan is accused of pushing his abilities to forbidden limits. He needs Ahilya to help clear his name; she needs him to tip the balance of rule in their society. As their paths become increasingly intertwined, deadly truths emerge, challenging everything each of them believes. And as the earthrages become longer, and their floating city begins to plummet, Iravan and Ahilya’s discoveries might destroy their marriage, their culture, and their entire civilization.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

The Surviving Sky is one of those unique books which makes you stop in your tracks. Every time I fell in love with an element, there was another one I loved. The marriage between Ahilya and Iravan is one of complexity and realism. It’s about those pained silences, about the issues we cannot figure out how to reconcile, and the question of whether we can fix these problems. I haven’t read a book with a relationship of this kind before in a fantasy world and it’s a breath of fresh air.

The world building is one that combines metaphors, philosophy, and magic. It’s one that asks us to figure out what lies at the essences of each other. At the same time it examines history and the importance of seeing the past for our present and future. This balance or conflict between architects and the non-architects was fascinating. I saw it very much as this conflict of STEM versus the humanities as Ahilya’s work is one of research into the past which others around her don’t understand.

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But The Surviving Sky illustrates the power and importance of remembering the past. Of researching it and recognizing it for the understanding of who we are, and where we can go. It’s integral to our lives. The combination of these three elements create a world which is unique and innovative. It’s a fascinating blend that holds promise for the future of this world and these characters. With betrayal, sacrifice, and lies The Surviving Sky is not bereft of action. Rao explores the corrosion of secrets and how it breaks down a person and their relationships around them. The community and its secrets.


The Surviving Sky also examines power and what our power is worth to us. All the ways in which we think we have power or are losing power, but it’s all about how we see ourselves and our lives. Find The Surviving Sky on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon (UK),, & Blackwells.


Who is your favorite couple in a SFF book?

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