Incendiary

Firstly, I was drawn to that stunning cover and then the synopsis revealed such a unique sounding magic system and inventive world. Luckily for me, the amazing people at Hodder granted my request via Netgalley to read this brilliant YA fantasy early!

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Trigger warnings: violence, murder, torture, graphic injury/death, parental abuse/manipulation

I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.

Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.

Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace.

When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez’s top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.

But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything.

My Thoughts:

This was such a unique, well-crafted fantasy and I felt utterly immersed in Renata’s story. I loved the way that the story was slowly unraveled, showing the build up and allowing us as readers to piece together different plot threads to reveal the bigger picture.

I loved Córdova’s evocative, rich style of writing so much.The book feels intoxicating with endlessly beautiful language and creative touches that really bring this intricate world to life. It’s lyrical and magical, with gorgeous word choices but without losing focus, as flowery prose can do if used by the wrong hands. It’s such a deceptive book, with so many secrets and twists and turns. Every time you think you know where it’s going to go, Córdova unleashes yet another excellent twist.

Renata herself cannot remember everything, hiding a lot of her childhood trauma within the Gray, which blocks out her own memories. As she slowly regains these memories, the many layers of the plot shift and change along her own personal development. I really enjoyed this blend of action with character growth and the way that Renata truly was the driving force of the story. Córdova builds up action in subtle moments in the background, but her focus is always on our complex and intriguing heroine, who I am excited to see grow even more in the sequel.

With Renata, Córdova gives voice to those who have ever felt ostracised, as she is perpetually sidelined and mistrusted. She sees herself and many others share her viewpoint as only being a weapon to be utilised, a loose cannon whose fuse is burning up. As she slowly begins to grasp her own identity, which is a precarious journey based on smoke-like memories and images, we utterly relate to her struggles and that idea of not knowing your true self rings so vividly.

Incendiary is a ticking time bomb of a book that hones in on its endlessly interesting protagonist before unveiling a barrage of excellent plot twists and an ending that left me craving more.

 

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