Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On Fire, Burning At These Mysteries

Published:  September 17th, 2013
The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy # 1)
By: Sherry Thomas
Balzer + Bray
ISBN-13:  9780062207296
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 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.
     Iolanthe Seabourne has grown up with only a guardian for love and support, but he has become increasingly addicted to a substance that makes him paranoid and semi-violent.  As an elemental mage she agrees to create the light elixir for a wedding in her village,  but her guardian ruins the elixir when she refuses to bow out.  So she decides to fix it - by calling down lightning into the cauldron!  All Hell breaks loose after she does, forcing Iolanthe to go on the run with the unfamiliar and mysterious Prince Titus of Elborne.  He is also only sixteen and yet their fates are inextricably linked according to his Mother's journal of the psychic visions she had before she died.  Iolanthe is destined to confront the Bane, a magical tyrant, and defeat him with the help of Titus.  First they must outwit all the people hunting them and they start by disguising Iolanthe as a boy and attending boarding school in another dimension, non-magical England, together.  Can Iolanthe really make a difference in the face of evil and most important of all, can she find the courage to even try?
     I really enjoyed this book!  I have a natural aversion to fantasy that is set half in our world and half in another.  When I read it, I enjoy it but convincing me to put my eyes to the page in the first place can be a bit of challenge.  Sherry Thomas generally writes adult romances, so I was kind of surprised to see her cross into the YA side of things - especially YA high fantasy (I shouldn't be though, after Sophie Jordan did the same a few years ago with Firelight).  Her main characters Iolanthe and Titus are both rather mysterious, in that because the book was told in third person we didn't get to know either one of them very deeply.  There was some character development, in that Iolanthe especially learned to accept herself and her abilities, plus the responsibilities inherent with them.  I really appreciated the spotlight on the gradual change between Iolanthe from strangers to reluctant (and somewhat resentful) partners, to friends, to something more.  Characters are something that can make or break a book for me and I think that Sherry Thomas created some pretty great ones.  That said there was a bit of a disconnect on my part for whatever reason, so I still can't claim this as a favorite book.
     The plot was interesting and complex in the world-building aspects, but it was kind of predictable.  I really liked the magically interactive scenes with the Crucible (inter-generational book from Titus' family).  The fairy tales and stories that tested both kids in the book were very well-detailed and realistically creepy.  All the events and life happenings at Eton in London also were very captivating, with the reader holding their breath each time someone almost catches on to fellow boy student Fairfax actually being Iolanthe in disguise!  Probably the biggest plot problem that I had as a reader was the ease with which Sherry dispensed with The Inquisitor, the main evil antagonist of the two teenagers, just as she was about to discover something detrimental about Iolanthe and Titus.  The politics and poisonous environment of Titus' one-day kingdom was interesting, but somewhat unclear in terms of laying out its rules and regulations for me as a reader.  The book moves slowly at first, with bursts of action but once it really picks up the pace it doesn't slow down again until the end.  My favorite part was when Iolanthe was transformed into a canary to attend an event with Titus.  Overall, a very intriguing first foray into the YA world on the part of Sherry Thomas.  I can almost compare my fascination with this book, as flawed as it may be, with my love for Girl of Fire and Thorns.  While it's not quite there in terms of polish, the easy humor and fun mythology of this first book make me excited for the next installment.  Honestly it's worth reading if you're into high fantasy, want something new and can get past the sometimes choppy, jumbled feel of the third person narrative.
VERDICT:  3.75/5  Stars
*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book was published September 17th, 2013.*

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are much appreciated and I always read them with a smile on my face! :) While I appreciate the thought, this an award-free blog as well. I just don't have the time to keep up with it. Thank you for my smiles and please share your thoughts! Also, sorry for the Captcha, but I've been getting a lot of spam lately!