Book Title: Roar
Author: Cora Carmack
Series: Stormheart #1
Genres: YA, Romance, Fantasy, Fiction
Date Read: 02/18/17
Pub Date: 06/13/17
In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.
Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.
To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.
Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.
I guess I’ve put writing this review off long enough. I keep feeling like, if I don’t write this, I don’t have to let go of this story yet. When I first read the above description of said book, I immediately thought “Great, another cliche YA fantasy filled with tropes of white, timid girls saving the day, love triangles where all the boys are unrealistically pining after one extra spoiled lady, and a let down of a plot because my expectations of how awesome controlling storms would be simply can’t measure up.” Sound about right? However, I kept seeing this little book popping up all over my Goodreads feed, so when I was offered an early copy from the publisher, peer pressure got to me and I caved because I like having things earlier than I’m supposed to. Let me just tell you folks, if you are a fan of YA fantasy with a bit of romance, immediately click that pre-order button because you need some Stormlings in your life, I promise. As a fair warning, there may be some extremely mild spoilers below, so if you’d like to go in completely blind, I’d recommend stopping reading this and clicking HERE. If you want to get a little more feel of the book then follow along.
“You are lightning made flesh. Colder than falling snow. Unstoppable as the desert sands riding the wind. You are Stormling. Aurora Pavan. Believe it.
Believe it, and others will too.”
Let’s start with our main character. This is where I was most concerned before entering into the book; I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read (and probably you as well) where the protagonist is a pale, white 18 year old female who is unsure of herself, even though the book tells us for PAGES how perfectly above average she is in looks and talent. This girl also falls at the feet of any guy to show her attention, and usually has saved her virginity for a mainstream view of an abnormally long time, only to give it up in one quick moment. This particular trope has gotten old, so you can see the concern when our main character is described as a pale, white 18 year old female. Thankfully, this story is different. I won’t go into too much detail, but the first chapter leads us to believe the story is going in one direction and brings us a significant twist right away, showing that this book will indeed be different. I love how there is no love triangle in this book; the romance that is there is very engaging, but also very tame and somewhat ties into the reasoning behind portions of the action. The remaining characters are fairly diverse, at least racially, and the band of friends that we follow throughout the story remind me a bit of our gang in the Six of Crows duology, although I hate to make that comparison and raise expectations unintentionally. I feel this crew had their own strengths and weaknesses compared to Kaz’s crew, but gave me that same close feeling that I had while reading those books.
“Soul of fire, soul of rage
No longer bound by flesh or cage,
Soul exalted, soul made new
Reserved for those devout and true.”
-“The Way of Souls” (A Sacred Soul Hymn)
The plot was actually very complex, layered as an onion to where, once we had a portion figured out, it opened up others that were still a mystery. I did have to devote my full attention in the beginning for the world building, as this fantasy realm is very different than the others I’ve previously read. There is intricate detail of multiple lands that I found completely mesmerizing; I adored how realistic it was and didn’t account for how caught up I’d become until I had to check back in to reality. There is so much action in the plot that makes it paced really well; I could hardly put this down and do all the other things I needed to during my days. The entire premise of certain lineages being able to control storms, and said storms having a “heart” really intrigued me and I found the story to be much better than my wildest expectations. This has a “half mythological/half modern fantasy” feel which caused a nice balance without either aspect feeling forced. I grew close to the characters and felt really sad to have turned the last page and have nowhere else to follow them (for the time being). And that cover? Absolutely stunning.
I’d highly recommend this to fans of any sect of YA fantasy; the romance was mild and age appropriate for all teens. This is the type of book that would even make a great cross-over into YA Sci-Fi as it toes the edge of some pieces that would fit nicely there. Such a well-written and exciting YA debut; I now have a complete book hangover that is almost as severe as when I finished ACOMAF last year. This one was so good I’m going to have to buy a finished copy for my special shelf at home in hopes of a re-read before the next book in the series is published.
Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy via NetGalley; it was an absolute delight and privilege to provide an honest review.