This might just be my favorite book of all time. Seriously. And I’ll try and write a coherent review without dissolving into fangirl squeals.
The Scorpio Races meets Hunger Games, basically. Did I ever mention that both of those are on my lists of favorites? Eleven phoenix riders take part in The Races, one champion taking the prize money and pretty much the guarantee of a comfortable life. But the Ashlords’ gods have gotten involved, and the word is about to fall to war, fire, and fury. The story follows the POV of three of the riders: Imelda, Adrian, and Pippa.
Imelda Beru. The Alchemist. AKA, the absolute coolest and my favorite of the bunch. Fierce yet wary, strong yet sensitive, brave yet cautious. Honestly, one of the best written female characters I’ve read about in a LONG time. It is so easy to get in her head and relate and sympathize with her as a character. She’s a Dividian commoner, one of the many under the Ashlords’ oppressive rule. All she wants is to mix her components to create the best phoenix horses.
The revolutionary’s son, told his whole life that by winning The Races, he will be the flame that starts the war against the Ashlords. Or better put, he is the thunder. Fiercely loyal to both his father and the cause, he’ll give anything to see this through to the end. You can’t help but admire his determination, even as it makes him do things to others that go against everything you’d hope he’d believe in. While at times I was frustrated with him, you can’t help but love him despite his flaws. Still, probably the most boring of the three.
Pippa, daughter of champions. It is practically her birthright to win The Races, and you can’t help but hate how perfect and fake her life is at first. But let me tell you, Pippa will surprise you and show you a heart you can’t help but adore. Arrogant, selfish, and cold, somehow she still managed to be one of the best things about this book.
Oh boy, this book does things you don’t even expect! Trust me, you’ll think you have this book figured out only to realize that the whole goal is to keep you guessing. I couldn’t relax while reading this because I just had to know what happened next!
Fast-paced action, relatable and enjoyable characters, beautiful writing, vivid descriptions, and a level of cleanness that was surprising for the genre and age-range. (a few uses of dmn and hll and the occasional vague sexual innuendo). Also, great side characters! The other racers were a ton of fun to root for or boo, and Farian is adorable! Plus Ayala, of course.
The small cleanness issues stated above and the fact that the book is quite violent and the world they live in is dark and oftentimes frightening. Plus, for those of you who don’t like magic, there are gods in this world that influence the humans around them not necessarily for the good. But other than that, nothing!
Some Amazing Quotes
“You are the lightning. I am the thunder. We are the storm.”
“It was stunning. I wonder if that’s what happens to thunder, if that’s why it’s always a second late. Maybe it gets distracted thinking about how beautiful lightning is and forgets that its job is to make all the noise.”
“Morning comes and revolution is on its heels.”