Monday, September 23, 2013

My ridiculously enthusiastic recommendation for THE BURNING SKY by Sherry Thomas

When you finish reading a book and then immediately read everything else the author has ever written, you know that author is skilled.

That's exactly what happened when I read Sherry Thomas's THE BURNING SKY (Balzer & Bray), which I picked up at BEA. I went on her website to (not kidding) find out if they'd announced the release date of the sequel, and discovered that she had established her career as an author of historical romance. THE BURNING SKY, a traditional fantasy novel, was Thomas's first foray into writing YA, and she transitioned seamlessly into the new genre.

The official summary of THE BURNING SKY:

It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…
Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone, let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.
        Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs, but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.
        But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.

THE BURNING SKY has excellent world building and a fun concept, with a well-written dual point-of-view, third person narration. (No simple feat!) It's an easy read, but since it's basically about epic-scale political machinations that span both the mage world and our world .... with some complicated magical rules to boot ... I'd say the ease comes from Thomas's skills as a writer and not the simplicity of the plot.

I felt connected to both Iolanthe and Titus, and I became totally invested in their story. And thankfully, there's a perfect balance of romance mixed in with the main plot, so that it never felt overwhelming.

When adult authors transition to YA, many times their debut is a teen version of the type of book that cemented their career in the first place. That's not necessarily a bad thing ... but once I discovered that Thomas was an RITA Award-winning romance writer, it really impressed me how she chose to rein in the burgeoning romance in THE BURNING SKY and really let fantasy take center stage.

The only way Thomas followed the traditional advice "write what you know" is that she stuck to her norm of excellent characterization and dialogue, plus a witty narration. (Like I said, I ended up reading her seven other novels, so I know for a fact that the quality of THE BURNING SKY isn't a fluke.)

I definitely recommend THE BURNING SKY for fans of Rae Carson's incredible Fire and Thorns trilogy. However, where the Fire and Thorns books could've easily been marketed as adult (like Maria V. Snyder's Poison Study or Kristin Cashore's novels), THE BURNING SKY feels solidly YA, mostly due to the innocence of the main characters and the fact that they're still in school. But Iolanthe and Titus's situation is changing quickly, and I have a feeling they'll grow up with the trilogy, as the stakes become higher. (And I wouldn't complain in the least if we upped the swoon scale. Because Thomas can really bring le swoon.)

I'm always anxious reading the end of the first book of a trilogy, wondering if there's enough of a plot arc to support three novels. With THE BURNING SKY, you have a satisfying ending that teases into an epic-scale, trilogy-worthy plot, and I'm looking forward to seeing where the rest of the books go.

Final verdict: Sherry Thomas will be welcomed into the world of YA with open arms, and she earned it.

More love for THE BURNING SKY from Angieville
THE BURNING SKY is available now! Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

1 comment:

  1. I love your passion for this book! I hadn't heard of it, nor had I heard of Sherry Thomas, so thanks for opening my eyes.


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