The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas Review
I wandered into Barnes and Noble on a whim, as I usually do, and stumbled upon two books whose covers caught my eye, The Burning Sky obviously being one of them. I know that you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but I do all the time, most unabashedly. I like staring at pretty covers. Can you blame me?
Not only does this book have a cool, intriguing cover, but the story is refreshing and entertaining. If you're a fan of Harry Potter, I can't recommend this book enough. The world building is done fantastically, the characters are lovable and relatable, and the plot is unpredictable.
The main character, Ionthe, is an elemental mage--the Great elemental mage of her time, in fact. This character is written so well and realistic. In other young adult novels with female protagonists, it is common for them to have their priorities a mess because of the male protagonist/love interest.
Ionthe, however, is very clever and keeps her head even when her love interest arrives. She's smart and determined, and has to fight her automatic feelings of self preservation in order to attempt to save her guardian and her new friend/love interest, Titus.
She is such a fantastic character because even though she is from a small village and has no parents, she is still loyal and has a straight head without being the typical Mary-Sue. She has many talents that are revealed later and the book, and most likely has even more that we have yet to see.
Titus is royalty and acts as a bratty prince, but inside he is guided by destiny--a destiny that was told to him by his recently deceased mother. Despite his conniving ways and snobbish attitude towards everyone around him, around Ionthe and those he trusts, Titus has a heart of gold--or maybe silver. Either way, he's a brilliantly written character and extremely likable despite--or perhaps because of--his many faults.
Even though, as the reader learns in the beginning of the book, he has seen his destiny that leads certainly to death at a young age--around the age he is when the book starts, in fact--he still follows his duty and attempts to carry out his destiny.
The world in which Ionthe and Titus live is a mage world. Outside of the many mage kingdoms, there are nonmage worlds, such as London, where they go to escape Atlantis, the rulers of their world that wish to harness Ionthe's powers for their leader, Bane.
Magic and wands exist but, unlike Harry Potter, wands act only as a magnifier of magic instead of a source for it. Mages are able to perform magic without their wands, but use wands if they wish to perform more powerful magic.
The details put into the world are what make it so intriguing. Mythical creatures also exist, wyverns and dragons alike--mostly as steeds for their mages, or enemies.
If you like fantasy worlds with a dash of reality, this is definitely a good book to go to, as half of it is spent in a mage world, the other half in nonmage London, England, at Titus's all-boys' school.
Really the only issue that one can discern in further reading is that the transitions between worlds (the real world and the fantasy world in the Crucible, a book which transports Titus and Ionthe into fairy tales) can be a bit confusing. It is not terrible hard to catch on, but some transitions are rather abrupt and could have been explained further or more explicitly.
Unlike most YA, the love story in this book is actually believable and captivating. Perhaps it's too hard to say that most young adult stories lack believable romance, but it is obvious in some books that the romance is either forced or becomes the center of the plot when the summary on the back of the book mentioned little to no romance at all.
This did not happen with this book; what you see is what you get. Reading the summary on the back gives you a clear vision of what the book is about, and the author does not stray from the fantasy action to focus on the love story, but rather enter twines the love story as the main plot moves along in a romantic, viable way that is neither boring nor awkwardly forced.
Ionthe and Titus are perfectly match, as both of them are just enough different as they are alike. Both have certain selfish traits or aspects that they use to accomplish their goals by whatever means necessary, but until they find their minds to have a similar goal, their banter and misgivings are entertaining to watch, and it was actually enthralling to anticipate each others' reactions to each other.
It was a great idea to switch the perspective every few pages so that the reader could find a clear view of what was going on in both of their heads, and made the reveals, when they came to clash between the characters, all the more exciting.
The Inquisitor is probably the best villain I've read in quite some time. She's creepy and terrifying, and each one of her appearances fills a reader with dread.
Having someone dig into your mind is a scary though in itself, but her unabashed joy for doing so is what is more terrifying.
I was disappointed that the Bane, or the "big bad" that Titus is destined to try to help Ionthe defeat, didn't get more of a debut in this book. He only made a small appearance at the end, while I was expecting an intimidating, terrifying attack from him, similar as the Inquisitor's appearances.
I expect the author is saving the reveal of his power and terror for the next book, which I am eagerly looking forward to.
This is a great book for readers looking for wonderfully-built fantasy worlds, colorful characters, and awesome magic with a dash of romance. I look forward to reading the second book.