Friday, August 18, 2017

Saturday #Review - Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta #YALit #Fantasy @MaryTaranta

Series: Shimmer and Burn # 1
Format: E-Book, 336 pages
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult / Dark Fantasy

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.

“With every high comes the inevitable, unavoidable low.”   

Shimmer and Burn is the first of two installments in author Mary Taranta's Simmer and Burn duology. Faris Locke is the main protagonist. She hasn't had an easy life. Not after her mother tried to kill her when she was 6 years old, and not after her mother killed after being accused of stealing the King's gold. Faris has been labeled the daughter of a drunk and a thief. Faris tries hard to support her younger sister Cadence. She has survived by fighting, and stealing food to survive. In this world, nobody is allowed to leave the kingdom of Brindaigel. 

Perrote, the King of Brindaigel, has powerful magic. He has not only bound all his soldiers to him as though they were puppets, but he has also walled off the country from the outside world. Especially from the country of Avinea which has been torn apart by a magically created plague that seeps into the soil, under your skin, and you end up dying slowly. In this world, just sneezing in the wrong direction can get you executed without a trial. Faris and a friend make plans to escape the city, but the escape goes wrong thanks to unfortunate circumstances, and Faris is forced to find a way to save her sister who is captured by the King's executioner.

With her sisters future on the line, Faris agrees to Princess Bryn's plan to carry stolen magic into Avinea as an incentive to gain an alliance with Prince Corbin and remove King Perotte. What she didn't agree to was Bryn following her into Avinea and being bound to her as her very own slave. Or, the fact that she is now considered a threat to King Perotte because she escaped Brindaigel. Or, finding a companion in North who guides Faris & Bryn across a very dark, very dangerous, world called Avinea where one wrong move will definitely end up you being dead, or losing body parts.  

During their journey they face many obstacles and unveils many secrets. North is a curious character who you will definitely be eager to learn about who he is, what he is trying to do for his country, and whether or not he is an actual ally Faris can count on, or just another layer to her road to save Cadence. Bryn is such a manipulative character. In one moment you want to punch her in the throat, while the next you wonder what she is actually up to, and how her actions will affect Faris. Can Faris survive this journey? Can she save her sister before it’s too late? 

This is also a book that does really well in world building. There is zero complaints from me on this issue. There is also an impressive group of secondary characters who really does shine. While I am loathe to admit I liked Bryn, I did. She's such a curious villain. She is the embodiment of self-entitlement, cruelty and cunning and will cut anyone's throat in order to get her way. She will even force Faris into doing her bidding for her. I am settling on 4 stars because I am truly not happy with the ending. I hate to admit this, but I would love for the book to end on a Games of Throne's full scale slaughter with everyone dying except Faris, North, and Cadence. This is one scary world. There are characters who are just horrible and Faris is caught right in the middle thanks to Bryn's machinations. But, Faris isn't a pushover folks. I am looking forward to the sequel. 

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