Series: Stormheart #1
Published by Tor Teen on June 13th 2017
Source: Author Review Copy
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic, Romance
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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.
This book was a pleasant surprise in the best of ways. With a turbulent and explosive plot, Roar takes you on an unforgettable journey as exhilarating as chasing a storm. There are numerous dynamic and lovable characters whom you can easily connect with, as well as solid world-building that sucks you right into the pages, leaving you wanting more – even until the next page. I’ve read Cora Carmack’s romance books before, but they didn’t necessarily wow me or anything. They were cute and light (would definitely recommend the Rusk University books!) but this Young Adult fantasy? It has pretty much everything I adore in fiction, making for a tempestuous adventure of discovery, growth, and newfound strength.
I confess, I wasn’t exactly sold at the beginning of the book. We see Rora – short for Aurora – getting ready to meet her fiance Prince Cassius of the kingdom of Locke. Princess Aurora spends a little bit of time explaining about the world in the beginning, but I assure you guys, the info-dump is minimal and useful. We get to see the basic history of Caelira, a land that used to be dominated by volatile storms and severe wether. However, people had an ability to take the hearts of the storm and subdue them – they were called Stormlings, and became the eventual nobility as people flocked towards them for protection and security.
Back then, the continent of Caelira was ravaged beyond recognition, and people flocked to the Pavan family stronghold for sanctuary. They pledged service or goods or gold to live near those who had been blessed by the goddess with the ability to challenge the dangers of the sky, those that came to be called Stormlings.
Rora comes from a family of Stormlings, being a princess, but she doesn’t have the magical ability to subdue storms. Even though she’s a clearly intelligent – and innocent – princess who cares for her people, her lack of magic has made her isolated from everything else. Thus, her mother arranged for the marriage with Prince Cassius so they would have a protector for their kingdom when the storm season takes over. Cassius has exceedingly strong magic – but also great secrets. Rora soon discovers that he wants to take over her throne eventually, and that soon vanquishes her trust in him. Add to that the fact that she’s been keeping her lack of magic a secret all these years, and the kingdom is definitely in jeopardy of being lost to the Locke family, where Cassius is the second son.
She’d traded friendship for solitude, social interaction for books. At her mother’s insistence, at her queen’s demand, Rora alienated everyone she knew to keep a secret that weighed on her more than this gown and headdress ever would.
When she follows Cassius into a bumbling marketplace, she discovers that things aren’t exactly how she thought they were. Rora sees peasants living in poor conditions – something her naivety never accounted for – and vendors selling storm magic. With this brings a whole door of questions, as Rora has grown up believing that only Stormlings were able to harness the magic of a storm through their Stormhearts. With this realization comes the strength in Rora to forge her own fate into learning as much as she can about this intriguing – and illegal – world in order. With this knowledge, she’ll be able to help the citizens of her kingdom even without storm magic. And with this knowledge, people like Cassius won’t be able to usurp the throne. In her decision, Rora decides to secretly join a band of traveling storm hunters under the name of Roar to learn all that she can about Storm magic – an education that she would not have encountered in the tidy little palace.
And even though everything else was chaos and confusion, she felt undeniably sure about something for the first time in years. ‘I’m making my own future.’
One thing I absolutely adored about this book was Roar’s character. She’s obstinate and quite willful, but this same mentality lets her learn and grow all the better. In the beginning it’s quite obvious that there are gaps in her knowledge. She’s not afraid to let people know, though, and opens her mind to the possibilities that she’s just starting to discover. Roar has such a fierce determination that lets her strive towards a goal in the best way she can. She’s definitely a heroine you will root for throughout the book! Suffice it to say, her equal parts ignorance in subjects such as storm chasing but extreme capabilities in language and maps make her a refreshing and fun character to read about.
The book switches from the third person limited POV of several integral characters. Carmack does such an amazing job in writing each one of them with intrigue and empathy. Even the supposed antagonist is written with such flavor and depth and your heart can’t help but reach out to them. There’s such a vitality to her writing that makes each character seem so alive and vivid. The other characters were so charming to read about as well. From the eccentric band of storm hunters Roar joins to her companion in the palace, all these characters will snuggle a bit in your heart and stay there. Oh man, the friendship between her and Nova was so amazing to see – I only wish we had more of it! Prince Cassius isn’t a one-dimensional antagonist, and Carmack illustrates that easily with his conflict over wanting someone innocent like Roar and wanting the throne she can bring.
The love interest, Locke, is the storm hunter who teaches Roar about how storm magic works for people who weren’t born with it. He’s gruff and a bit more reticent – especially with feelings – but this makes for excellent banter and growth in their relationship. Locke creates more of a push-and-pull attitude in terms of their attraction (which was clear from first meeting but never really acted upon until later in the book), but nevertheless, the chemistry between the characters just created sparks in the air – like Stormfire. I loved reading their training sessions, where he taught her with perhaps a lack of patience, but with a whole lot of heart. They’re so great together! Lots of swoony moments, especially when they come to terms with their feelings. (Ensue squealing.)
‘I had no desire to throw myself into death’s path because death meant leaving you, and that was unthinkable. Is unthinkable. Feeling this way, the way I do about you, Roar, is scarier than any storm I’ve ever faced.’
While Roar is learning, her kingdom is falling under the rule of Cassius and the Lockes. They believe her to be kidnapped, and while this happens the storm season enters. Another entity – quite a mystery throughout the book – is also threatening the villages. Carmack does a phenomenal job in creating a riveting world full of both discoveries and mysteries just waiting to be seen by a reader.
With a plot as tumultuous as a storm, a romance that just burns with chemistry, and vivid characters as dynamic as the change in weather, Roar introduces an exhilarating fantasy world that left me wanting more. There is a great amount of character growth and I just loved Roar’s insistence to learn from her mistakes and soak up knowledge like a sponge. I promise you, there are no boring moments in this one. YA fantasy fans can’t miss out on this one. Readers looking for an exciting adventure and lovable characters who aren’t afraid to seek after the strength to protect them and their loved ones definitely need to pick this one up! I know I’m definitely anticipating the sequel.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Thank you Tor Teen for the review copy!