Book Review: Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta

Book Synopsis

To save her sister’s life, Faris must smuggle magic into a plague-ridden neighboring kingdom in this exciting and dangerous start to a brand-new fantasy duology.

Faris grew up fighting to survive in the slums of Brindaigel while caring for her sister, Cadence. But when Cadence is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly agrees to a lucrative scheme to buy her back, inadvertently binding herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne.

Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance—magic that addicts in the war-torn country can sense in her blood and can steal with a touch. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North, who offers protection from Avinea’s many dangers, but he cannot save Faris from Bryn’s cruelty as she leverages Cadence’s freedom to force Faris to do anything—or kill anyone—she asks. Yet Faris is as fierce as Bryn, and even as she finds herself falling for North, she develops schemes of her own.

With the fate of kingdoms at stake, Faris, Bryn, and North maneuver through a dangerous game of magical and political machinations, where lives can be destroyed—or saved—with only a touch.

3.5 Stars!

Shimmer and Burn (Shimmer and Burn, #1)Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

3.5 Stars

Shimmer and Burn was an intriguing fantasy debut, that was action packed from first page to last. There was a lot to like about the story, including the worldbuilding and everything about the magic system. The author is clearly a talented and creative writer, who thought through every aspect of the world she created, with special emphasis on the main focus of the story – magic. The magic system in this world is truly unique and I have never read a book with anything similar. It was by far the highlight of the story and was my favorite part to read about.

However, there was unfortunately a lot to this book that fell flat for me as well. The author fell hard into pretty much every YA trope there is, with the result of an incredibly predictable storyline and one dimensional characters. The most well rounded character is not our main character (whose name I’ve actually forgotten. It’s Faris. I looked it up), but one of the traveling companions we meet about halfway through the story. There were however quite a few loose ends left for a sequel that would be intrigued to see where they lead.

On top of that, we made it most of the way through the book without any of the typical romances we tend to see in YA, but then BAM! out of nowhere with no previous indication suddenly love is in the air. It felt incredibly out of place and forced, and it definitely brought the book rating down for me. Authors: There does not need to be a romance in every book! If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it!

Final thoughts – read this book for the incredibly unique world and magic system, but don’t expect anything spectacular in terms of plot and character development. I’ll be interested to see what else this author comes out with and would probably pick up the sequel to this book to read more about the magic.

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