Friday, August 30, 2013

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Title: The Burning Sky
Author: Sherry Thomas
Series: The Elemental Trilogy, book #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Source: ARC received from publisher, from publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…

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, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

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 revenge 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.

Man, that cover is awesome.  The original cover for this book was pretty great, too, because it highlighted the duality of the storyline, but I'm equally as happy with this cover.  That said, the description of the book from the trailer (below) captured my interest in this book much better than the summary from Goodreads (above). I'm all for some magic, but when it's a girl wielding magic while pretending to be a boy in a pretentious all boys school in historic London while also hiding from those who would do her harm in her own world, well, I'm going to be all over that.

I'm a fantasy fanatic.  I'm always looking for the next fantastic world I can escape to, one full of magic and mischief and mayhem.  And there was plenty in equal measures in The Burning Sky.  It took me a bit to become fully engaged in this story, but once the pacing picked up, there was plenty to keep me interested. This book was kind of the anti-Harry Potter:  a girl is taken from her magical world and brought to ours, where magic doesn't exist, to attend school while hiding from the Bane and his cohorts.  I'm not attempting to make a true comparison, just laying it out there so you get the gist of the story.  (And I'm not telling you anything that's not shown in the book trailer.)

A lot of my friends who shy away from fantasy tend to do so because the world and it's rules can become quite confusing. I don't think The Burning Sky is supposed to be a confusing book, but there were times that I found myself questioning the laws of the magic of The Realm or the Seer's predictions regarding Titus and Iolanthe.  I often overlook things in fantasy novels, assuring myself that it'll all make sense later.  But with this novel, I needed instant gratification, and so when I was confused about which Crucible was being used and which rules related to it because of the location and who it had previously belonged to, I inevitably started flipping back and forth in the book.  I needed everything in this novel to make sense in the here and now, not chapters later when everything had worked itself out already.  And upon further inspection, it did make was just easy to get ahead of myself while reading and lose track of some of the details.  Some of the paradoxes involving predicting the future still don't make sense, but I think that's just one of those things that I might never fully comprehend.

Iolanthe and Titus' first meeting is the result of a prediction.  I wasn't immediately enamored with either character, their initial mistrust of each other and overall demeanor leaving much to be desired, but as the story wore on, and more of each character's story was divulged, I found myself rooting for them, separately and as partners.  The romance didn't wow me, but it was sweet.  My favorite aspect, though, was probably one of the super villain's underlings.  The Inquisitor was ferocious in her search for the powerful mage who had wielded lightning.  Her ability to seek out the truth in one's mind knows no bounds, and the Inquisitor makes for a truly terrifying enemy.  Her existence and her power make me even more curious about the Bane and his rumored malevolence.

I think The Burning Sky only touched on some characters that could definitely use further examination as the series continues.  And I'd like a little more background and explanation as to how the magic works and exists in both worlds.  As you can see, I definitely want more, and I'll absolutely be picking up the next installment.  I'm hoping that, where this book seemed to focus more on world-building, the next will focus more on characterization.  I'm excited to get to know these characters better!

Rating:  photo 4-1.png

About the author:

Sherry Thomas writes both historical romance and young adult fantasy. On the romance side, she is one of the most acclaimed authors working in the genre today, her books regularly receiving starred reviews and best-of-the-year honors from trade publications. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award. On the young adult fantasy side, there isn't much to say yet, as her debut book is not scheduled for publication until September 2013. Sherry writes in her second language. She learned English by reading lots of romance and science fiction--every word Isaac Asimov ever wrote, in fact. She is proud to say that her son is her biggest fanboy--for the YA fantasy, not the romances. At least, not yet...

Find Sherry:

Website | BlogTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads


  1. I'm really excited to read this book although I have to admit to getting impatient when things don't make sense almost immediately. I think the final cover is alright, but I like the ARC cover so much more. I just love the black hole-ish effect on the first cover. Great review!

  2. This seems likebqvreally cool premise. I like that you call it an anti-Harry Potter. Interesting. Great review, Jen!

  3. Why have I never heard of this book before?! That cover is amazing and I love fantasy stories with a romance and a feisty heroine. Great review- this one is on my radar now!

  4. I skimmed this super fast since I'm reading it soon, but glad to see that you were a fan overall :)

  5. I loved this one too. I'm all for fantasy so world building doesn't bother me. I loved the Crucible but I was a bit confused here and there about the rules...I just let it go and found myself really loving the story. Will there be a sequel? I loved both covers too! Not sure which I like more to be honest.

    My Friends Are Fiction

  6. I liked the first cover better! I don't understand why they changed it? BUT the new one is nice too.

    This is all the things I loved about this book too: "I'm all for some magic, but when it's a girl wielding magic while pretending to be a boy in a pretentious all boys school in historic London while also hiding from those who would do her harm in her own world, well, I'm going to be all over that."

    I agree with this review so much: 1) This book was slow to pick up speed. But I had a lot of fun reading it. 2) The world building was confusing, especially because there were 3 different locations represented and they all seemed to have their own set of rules attached. I'm still not fully sure I got it all, and I'm going to have to reread this before I start book two. 3) Only Iolanthe and Titus are fleshed out, although there are a LOT of characters introduced. I really hope we get to know more in the future. 4) I liked the romance, but it didn't have me in a dead swoon. I'm not sure really why that was, but I'm hoping my heart rate increases in the next book.

    Titus was my favorite character, though. After a rocky beginning, I fell hard for him.

    YES to characterization in book 2!!

    Great review!


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