This is another review that unfortunately got caught up in the middle of lockdown, grieving and that lost month that I can’t remember if it was April or May or somewhere in between, or what really happened that time.
I got the chance to receive an ARC both from a friend (the US version) and the UK version from the publisher here (Thank you @readeatretreat and Hodderscape!). Since I have both ARCs I might just gift the UK version to someone who hasn’t read it 🙂 since I don’t really need both versions, so if you haven’t are you’re interested (especially if you live in the UK).
Incendiary (Hollow Crown #1)
by Zoraida Cordova
Genre: YA fantasy
Release Date: April 28th, 2020
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.
Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.
Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace.
When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez’s top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.
But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything.
6 reasons to read this book
*action packed fantasy with an interesting magic system, inquisition era inspired story
* MC, Renata Convida is a fierce, bit jaded anti-hero with probably the worst power you can get
*well fleshed out diverse cast of characters, some romantic tension
* not everything is at is seems! so many plot twists! shocking twists!
* deals with political intrigue, secrets, revenge, authoritarian regimes, xenophobia
* rebelling/fighting against a dictatorial/authoritarian system who wants to wipe out a minority group
cw for poisoning, murder, torture, suicide, wound and stitches descriptions, sex,
Incendiary is set in the magical world of a reimagined Inquisition-era Spain. In magical Puerto Leones, the ruling family is set on erasing the Moria, they are hunted, persecuted, feared and killed. Robari, people who have the magical ability to take people’s memories are the most feared of the Moira. The main character, Renata Convida is one of them, when she was a child she was kidnapped and kept by the King’s justice to use her powers to steal memories for the Royal enemies, these memories helped the ruling family murder thousands of Moria. But thanks to the Whispers (the Moria rebels) she was rescued and shortly joined their ranks. Although, as her powers were too feared, she never gained their trust. Apart from Dez, the commander of her unit and the only person Ren has ever trusted and loved.
When Dez gets captured, Ren will have to go back and infiltrate the palace to rescue Dez. However, being in the palace will bring back her childhood memories, keep her in close contact with the cruel Sangrado Prince who captured Dez and maybe not everything is what it seems?
Much of the book covers a few tropes(rebel heroine, feared by her powers, revenge plot, fighting against an evil empire), but what really caught me was how twisty it was, I think by the time I was caught up in the rythm of the writing, something happened that completely turns the story on its head, and that’s about the third chapter!
The worldbuilding of Incendiary was exquisite, there’s many stories dealing with a magic system, but this one was well fleshed out and presented in a way that didn’t seem too info dump-y, which tends to happen in fantasy duologies/trilogies with a distinct magic system.
The main character’s journey and her character development was one of the joys of reading this book, from the first moment you think you’re well aware of Ren and how she tends to react to things, and especially having her inner dialogue guide the story. But as the story progresses with all the twists, you find yourself along with Ren going through all her doubts, speculations, suspicions, hesitations, confusion and how she gets to uncover the mysteries of her past and of some of the characters she gets to know.
The cast that surrounds her is as interesting and intriguing as the world built by Zoraida, all the characters are so likeable, Dez from the first time we meet him he’s the only character that likes (loves?) and trusts Ren, the scenes we get with them are sweet, heartwarming but also sad at times.
There’s also the intriguing encounters with Prince Cassian which I won’t say much because I could spoil things, but he’s also a character that at first you might think you know his purpose but as the story goes on, you basically understand you know nothing and all your speculations could be wrong.
There’s so much about this book I could discuss, but knowing that there’s a sequel, I might just leave it to see where this story will end up going.
As I moved houses and finally have my books and everything sorted, I have planned to be more regular with this blog 🙂 please scream at me if I don’t keep up with this