Have you ever fallen down a digital rabbit hole? There are two of these in my world, the first was Bookstagram, which is a subject for another day. The second, and more recent rabbit hole I’ve discovered is BookTok.
One second you’re minding your own business, scrolling while you’re waiting for the bathroom to free up of a morning, the next you blink and realise you finished using the toilet an hour ago but for some inexplicable reason you’re still sitting on it. You’ve a numb bum and an Amazon basket full of MUST READ books you’d never heard of when you got up to go for a quick pee.
That’s exactly where I found myself one lazy Sunday afternoon some time ago when, amid a whirlwind of book recommendations, one title kept popping up: The High Mountain Court by A.K. Mulford. This was back in the days when my TikTok account only existed so I could see what all the fuss was about; I hadn’t posted a thing of my own yet, and honestly wasn’t intending to at that point. But I popped that book in my basket, and I gave the author a follow, and I didn’t think much more of it until I realised, a few days later, that A.K. Mulford was my new favourite thing to binge watch while procrastinating and not working on my own novel.
I’m a little better at working on my fiction these days, but back then I’d elevated the fine art of procrastination to a form nearly godly in its perfection. The allure of Mulford’s world was undeniable, and before I knew it, I was more than just a passive observer; I was a fan, eagerly awaiting the delivery of a book that BookTok had convinced me I absolutely needed in my life.
And I was not disappointed. The High Mountain Court is that rare kind of novel that is both compellingly unique and comfortingly familiar. A testament to Mulford’s ability to weave a world that’s as enchanting as it is complex, the first book in the Five Crowns Of Okrith series gives us a rich narrative and intriguing characters.
This is what happens when BookTok gets it right.
And not just because it made me aware of a great book, and a fabulous author I probably wouldn’t have heard of otherwise. But because it took a girl with a penchant for fantasy, thick female thighs, and brief, amusing skirts, and transformed her into a bonafide author with a string of successful books under her belt. And while The High Mountain Court, the first of those books, was self-published by the author in 2021, just two years later that author has a book deal with Harper Voyager, who picked up and re-released her self-published works, and are publishing her soon-to-be-released latest novel, A River of Golden Bones.
Yep, you heard me. A previously unknown author went from unpublished to self-published to Harper Voyager in just two years. How?
Because the author effectively leveraged BookTok to ensure I (and many others) bought her book, engaged with her content, and created content of their own about how great that book is.
While the world of BookTok recommendations can often feel like a hit or miss, The High Mountain Court is a resounding hit, and so is A.K. Mulford. The lesson? Sometimes, the hype is well-deserved.
So, let’s dive into this magical world and explore how a trending hashtag turned into one of my most cherished reads of the year.
Book Review: The High Mountain Court By A.K. Mulford
The High Mountain Court transports us to Okrith, a world brimming with intrigue, magic, and heart-stopping adventure. At the heart of the story is Remy, a red witch dodging a bounty on her head. Her life veers off course when Prince Hale of the Eastern Court and his fae allies interrupt her escape, needing her red magic to unearth magical relics vital for reclaiming Prince Raffiel’s rule over the Mountain Court, currently under Northern Court’s sway. Without giving away too much (because spoilers are the enemy of joy), the story unfolds with an unlikely heroine, a perilous quest, and enough twists to keep you riveted.
Mulford masterfully brings characters to life, making them resonate with readers. Remy, the central figure, defies the mould of a typical heroine with her combination of flaws and fierceness, while Prince Hale adds a layer of complexity and allure as the love interest. The supporting characters, diverse and richly portrayed, contribute to the narrative’s depth. The world of Okrith itself is as much a character as the individuals inhabiting it, with its meticulously crafted landscapes and enchanting magical elements, immersing the reader in its vividly imagined realm.
Mulford’s writing style is captivating, marked by a balance of action and introspection, making the book hard to put down. The romance between Remy and Hale is particularly well-crafted, featuring the perfect mix of tension, banter, and steamy scenes, making their relationship a highlight of the story.
The world-building in The High Mountain Court is a standout feature, akin to donning VR goggles and immersing oneself in a high-definition fantasy world. The character arcs are equally impressive, marked by growth, setbacks, and triumphs that are both unexpected and gratifying. While the plot twists occasionally feel excessive, like a roller coaster with one too many loops, they add to the novel’s overall excitement. The magic system and world’s history, though engaging, leave room for further exploration. Delving deeper into the courts’ history and the origins of the witches’ powers is something I look forward to in the remaining books in the series.
In a nutshell, The High Mountain Court is a book that not only lives up to the hype but also serves as a reminder of why we fell in love with fantasy in the first place. It’s a story that lingers long after the last page is turned, like the echo of a spell whispered in the depths of a mystical forest.
Or something to that effect.
A Few Thoughts On BookTok Culture
BookTok has revolutionised the way we discover and interact with books, reshaping reading trends and significantly influencing book sales. This platform has the power to transform obscure titles into bestsellers, as seen with A.K. Mulford’s The High Mountain Court. It’s a new era where social media buzz can dictate publishing success, bringing a fresh dynamic to the literary world.
The essence of BookTok lies in its community. It’s more than just a platform; it’s a collective of avid readers sharing their passion. This communal vibe makes book recommendations feel like advice from a close friend, fostering a unique shared literary experience. It’s a haven for readers to find like-minded individuals, share their favourite reads, and sometimes, directly interact with authors.
My encounter with The High Mountain Court on BookTok was almost fated. The pull towards this book wasn’t just due to its intriguing plot or glowing reviews. It was the BookTok community’s palpable excitement and their detailed discussions about the characters and world Mulford crafted that really drew me in. Their collective enthusiasm was infectious, making me feel like I was about to miss out on an extraordinary literary adventure. This kind of community-driven endorsement is what sets BookTok apart as a powerful and unique platform for discovering literary treasures.
It’s also inspiring; as a writer (I say that meaning a professional copywriter who’s been at this writing lark for years, while only dabbling in fiction writing) and also a marketer, TikTok has created a palpable shift.
When I released my own novel in 2013 there was no equivalent platform for promoting yourself as an author or your books. If there had been, I suspect I’d have had a great deal more enthusiasm for marketing it then, and wouldn’t have stalled in my fiction writing to the extent that I did. I published Chasing Azrael and Bleizgeist (a novella) along with a few short stories (some self-published others published elsewhere) and I started working on my second novel.
To date, I’ve not completed a draft of that second novel I’m happy with. I’ve re-written it several times, but just can’t find the passion or drive to get it how I want it.
I’m a marketer, I understand that writing the book isn’t actually the hard part – not for a writer. Putting eyes on your book, creating buzz and enthusiasm for your book, that is the hard part. The part I just couldn’t do a decade ago.
Now though? I’m happily BookToking and building a platform. Am I hoping I will enjoy the same successes Ms Mulford has achieved and become a Harper Voyager author? You’re damn right I am! Harper Voyager has been my dream publishing house since I started scribbling my own stories as a teenager.
Will it work? Who knows, but with BookTok the possibility is genuinely real, and seems only limited by the enthusiasm and effort you’re willing to put into it. Ten years ago, all the enthusiasm in the world wasn’t enough to get a book noticed.
So yeah, BookTok made me buy The High Mountain Court, and I regret nothing.
It’s a fucking brilliant book by a very entertaining author I love following, and I’m now actively working on a new novel of my own (a sapphic fantasy retelling of Athena, if you’re wondering), while building my platform on BookTok.
Speaking of which, if you’re not already head on over to TikTok and give me a follow. You’ll find me making funny book videos, sharing my book recs, and talking quite a bit about Greek Mythology and the inspo behind my new novel, Thea…