Wednesday, September 25, 2013

(Review) The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Title: The Burning Sky
Author: Sherry Thomas
Series: The Elemental Trilogy, #1
Published: September 17, 2013 (Balzer + Bray)
Rating: Staying in Tonight
Format: Digital ARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone, let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal. But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.
I had been excited to read The Burning Sky for quite a while! Both Racquel and I are big fans of Sherry Thomas from her historical romances, and what a genre jump! I couldn't wait to see what Thomas had in store in this completely different type of book.

I had confidence in the fact that Thomas would still provide me with an excellent story, and that is definitely what happened! I was captivated immediately by the mage world and terms. While the details were sparse, especially at first, I appreciated it. There are few things I dislike more than being bogged down in details I can't sort out at the very beginning of a story. This story actually took place in three different worlds, which was certainly a unique element! There was the mage world, the normal world in nineteenth century Eton (a prominent boys' boarding school in England, for those of you who don't read about historical England with any regularity), and a fairytale world courtesy of a fascinating family heirloom Titus possessed. All three of these were distinctly different, and I liked the twist this brought to the story.

In all honesty, I read this book at a time that had the potential to be quite dreadful and detrimental to my enjoyment of the book: just after finishing Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas, which was incredible. I was afraid any fantasy would fail miserably by comparison, but I forged ahead nonetheless. I am glad I did so! The Burning Sky was completely different and fully capable of holding its own.

While not perfect, I liked both Iolanthe and Titus as characters. Titus especially was interesting. He had spent his entire life being purposefully deceptive, and he had to adjust to being honest with the one person with whom he needed to be. As for Iolanthe, I love that she was brave and willing to risk herself when needed, but she also hesitated and possessed self-preservation instincts, as well. It added a realistic element to her character, and I felt like she really was a sixteen year old girl.

I think there were many elements Thomas brought over from her background as a historical romance author. She seemed completely at home writing about England. But the biggest factor - and the one that made me incredibly happy - was to see a young adult paranormal/fantasy book where there was NO instalove! Iolanthe and Titus grew together slowly, and as the feelings began developing, I was completely captivated by their relationship. The development was natural and induced lots of smiles and butterfly flutterings on my end.

I was a fan of the ending of this book. Shock of all shocks, it actually wasn't a terrible cliffhanger! But there was still plenty left open, and several elements were still drawing me to want to complete the story. Because while yes, it was a good time to end, you just knew some things were not what they seemed! I was especially interested in one or two of their Eton buddies; there was more there than we could see, I would almost guarantee it. Nonetheless, it was a good stopping point, but I will most definitely be returning to see what else lies ahead for Iolanthe and Titus.
But we will never accomplish anything worthwhile in life if we require the guarantee of success at the onset.

There existed something in this world that bound a mage tighter than a blood oath: love. Love was the ultimate chain, the ultimate whip, and the ultimate slave driver.

*All quotes from an advanced review copy and may differ from the finished version.

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