Review: Keepers of the Zodiac

Keepers of the Zodiac by Natalie Brianne

4 stars – I liked it; it was good

I found this ARC through Book Siren, downloaded it in December last year, and began reading as soon as I entered the new year. I was a bit hesitant during the first few chapters but settled in as the story really got going.

Read: Jan. 2 – Jan. 12, 2023.

Save the Universe—or No?

Serena is just a regular college student learning about space until one night, a strange meteor shower changes everything. Now armed with some peculiar new powers, she discovers a greater destiny than an internship at NASA.

I chose this book out of the lineup because I liked the cover and was intrigued by the blurb, though when I started reading the first few chapters, I wasn’t sure about it. I don’t normally read epic science fiction (ex. Star Wars/Star Trek), and I’m not the best in advanced science, so most of the tech talk flew right over my head. I can’t say whether the information throughout the book is accurate, but it definitely seems like the author did her research. Nonetheless, I pushed forward, and I’m glad I did.

It started to get more interesting as Ross—an important side character—shows himself to Serena and reveals the bigger picture. The pacing really sped up and while I was still confused at times, everything made decent sense to me.

The writing style is easy to understand, with a stylistic flare that I could appreciate at times and question at others. It’s about 100k words but it didn’t feel that long, what with the book being divided into three parts. The first part begins with a sort-of prologue from the beginning of time, laying out the great evil, known as Entropy, and setting the stakes right away (dire and end-of-the-world style). Then it flashes forward to Serena, our main character, and the story begins.

The book is written in third person, though we get to look inside Serena’s head quite a bit throughout, and most of the time we only know what she knows, which adds to the mystery of it all. While the story mainly follows Serena, a few chapters bounce to other characters, such as Draconius (the antagonist) and Serena’s friend (after they separate).

The story wraps up nicely at the end, but we’re still left with questions. The big mystery hasn’t been wrapped up, and while we got answers, there are ways they could’ve been misinterpreted. I especially appreciated the fake-outs that tried to lead to one answer or another; I was successfully tricked.

The main character is, as I mentioned, a student with a NASA internship, so naturally she has a fascination with all things space. While I don’t share the same interest, she was relatable, and I’m sure other readers will fall in love with her character. Not only is there a mystery that she’s trying to solve, but there are mysteries in her past that we learn as she opens up to the other characters, and everything is laid out raw and bare at the end for her and Ross. I think that any sequel will do well in expanding on that growing (platonic?) bond between the two of them.

The main villain of the series, Draconius, is dynamic. We mostly follow Serena’s story, but there are chapters that focus on him, giving us glimpses into his plans (though not much!) and interactions with other characters. He’s seen more as an anti-villain, someone who does bad things for noble reasons, as he believes himself a prophetic figure destined to save the universe, though the way he does it is quite dark. I anticipate learning more about him; many questions have risen since the bomb-drop at the end of the book.

The plot was linear without any flipping back and forth through time, which I appreciated since I was slightly lost when the science got more technical. I think it progressed logically, and I was constantly hooked by the growing mystery; I can’t think of any moments when I was uninterested or bored while reading, aside from the very beginning when I was still getting a feel for the story.

I thought that the magic system was quite creative, stemming from the twelve zodiacs from astrology. Instead of horoscopes, though, the zodiacs are real people, godlike figures who’ve existed since the beginning of time, whose mission is to keep the universe safe from Entropy, a destructive force which desires only one thing: to end all life. The Keepers, as designed by the Zodiac, are each gifted with powers based on their specific patron: fire for Aries, shadows for Scorpio, water for Pisces, etc. Though there are similarities to other magic systems I’ve read, this is a unique concept that I enjoyed.

I recommend this book to science fiction lovers with an appreciation of epic, high-stakes stories and space travel. People interested in astrology and the movement of stars and planets may also really enjoy this book.

Check out my other book reviews by going to my Archive.

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