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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

The first book in an epic, heart-pounding fantasy duology about two royal heirs betrothed to be married, but whose loyalties are torn, and a ruthless enemy who threatens their world, perfect for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Hafsah Faizal, and Renée Ahdieh. Adraa is the royal heir of Belwar, a talented witch on the cusp of taking her royal ceremony test, and a girl who just wants to prove her worth to her people. Jatin is the royal heir to Naupure, a competitive wizard who’s mastered all nine colors of magic, and a boy anxious to return home for the first time since he was a child. Together, their arranged marriage will unite two of Wickery’s most powerful kingdoms. But after years of rivalry from afar, Adraa and Jatin only agree on one thing: their reunion will be anything but sweet. Only, destiny has other plans and with the criminal underbelly of Belwar suddenly making a move for control, their paths cross…and neither realizes who the other is, adopting separate secret identities…

Overall Book Review:

Cast in Firelight is the debut novel in what is expected to be a series.  And while I was super excited to read this book, now I must sit on pins and needles waiting for the next one.  This book has a little something for everyone–action, romance, magic intrigue, and so much more.

First, I am really loving the main character Adraa.  She is everything a strong character should be.  She is courageous, even when scared out of her mind; she is kind, even when it might cost her everything she is trying to save; she’s sassy and spunky and isn’t afraid to step out of what society deems should be her place.  She is also a character that struggles with deep insecurities-which makes me love her even more.  It is great to see such a realistic portrayal of what a strong woman looks like; they are not always invincible.

The other characters round out the cast very well.  There is a mix of good guys, bad guys, not-so-sure-about guys, and those that you downright just want to loath.  Throughout the novel, you see the importance of friendship and loyalty stressed and you also experience loyalty that is not unquestioning.  Instead, you see this cast coming together to determine what will define them and how they each fit into the amazing tapestry of the plotline.

I found the world and the magic that the author created to be quite seamless.  Granted, some ideas are borrowed from other popular books.  The characters fly on magic brooms, each character specializes in one or an assortment of magical abilities, and we see the traditional good versus evil battles throughout the book.  However, none of it felt outdated or overdone.  The combination of these elements with concepts of Indian culture such as maharaja’s, saris, kurtas, etc. made for a fresh take on what could have been a rehash of previous plotlines.

Apart from a few Indian terms that younger readers may struggle with, the book language is simple, the magic and characters easy to understand, and the content likely suitable for most middle grade and older readers.  Written from alternating points of view, the novel does not stagnate or offer a one-sided view of the action.  

I would highly recommend adding this to your to-be-read pile, but if you do not like cliffhangers, then you better hang tight till the next installment is a bit closer! 

Review of a Digital Advance Reading Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Delacorte Press

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  36 religious exclamations; 2 mild obscenities; 9 derogatory names; 1 scatological word.

Violence/Gore:  Slap to face, report of death by magic spells; almost tramped by elephant; man is pinned to wall; man knocked unconscious; depiction of dead goat being cut apart; multiple multi-page magical battles resulting in broken bones, bloody wounds and in some cases death; recall of natural disaster resulting in death and amputation of leg; spell used to torture individual twice; knife held to throat; verbal threat; magical sparring resulting in minor injuries; report of people killed when volcano erupts; bones break as magic is absorbed.

Sex/Nudity:  Reference to sex; two instances of sexual innuendo; male has shirt off twice and falls asleep with woman in arms once; arms around waist; two instances of handholding; three instances of kissing; hug.

Mature Subject Matter:

Socioeconomic conflict, death, war, ethics, illegal drugs.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Use of magical drug called Bloodlust but depicted as highly addicting.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I am a full-time mom, full-time wife, and overtime reader. I have been an avid reader for as long as anyone can remember. It must run in the family because both my mother and grandmother are also voracious readers and often pass books back and forth. Almost any genre can spark my interest, but I often go in streaks, reading a bunch of books from one genre, then switching to another for a while and back again.