GUEST REVIEWER – Auralee Wallace
- Title: The Burning Sky
- Author: Sherry Thomas
- ISBN: 0062207296 (ISBN13: 9780062207296)
- Series: The Elemental Trilogy #1
- Published: Published September 17th 2013 by Balzer + Bray (first published September 15th 2013)
- Format: eBook
- Genre/s: YA
- Print Length: 464 pages
- Source: Purchased
- Rating: B
It all began with a ruined elixir and a 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.
Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot to like about this book. I did enjoy the world Thomas created with its promises of earth-shattering power. The story was also riddled with super-cool elements like its beauty witches and lightening elixirs. My main problem, however, was with the pacing. I actually put down the book halfway through, not certain if I would pick it up again. I’m glad I did. The second half moved more quickly than the first, but it never quite reached page-turner status. I found the scenes at Eton dragged quite a bit. I’m not sure if the threat and worry regarding Fairfax’s cricket prowess really hit its mark. What’s more, I found Iolanthe, overall, to be a reactive character. I realize the story goal was to take down the Inquisitor/ protect Iolanthe from being kidnapped by the Bane, but there was never a clear picture as to how these goals would be achieved. As a result, I wasn’t led into worrying about upcoming events. As much as I’m not a fan of The Lord of the Rings, I did read several hundred pages of seemingly endless travel through Middle Earth just to see if Frodo would ever throw that damn ring in the Volcano thingy. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was supposed to be reading towards in The Burning Sky.
There were two other minor issues I had with the book. First, the occasional “bum-boy” reference killed some of the romance for me. I get that English boy schools have a certain reputation, but bringing to mind thoughts of hazing rape incidents was a bit jarring for me. This, however, was a small issue. In fact, I wouldn’t even mention it, but then there was the Sleeping Beauty thing. I love Sleeping Beauty. What’s not to love about enchanted castles and dragons? But I am also aware of the rape theme. Thanks a lot Anne Rice. I could have happily forgotten this aspect, were it not for Iolanthe bringing it up herself.
She wanted to see the girl he used to kiss before she came along. And did he stop at kissing? Or did he do a great deal more to that pretty, grateful, pliant girl?
Yeah, that’s not good. Maybe as a teenager I would have found a prince kissing an unconscious, conjured image of me romantic, but now I find it creepy. As an experiment, I imagined, for a moment, my husband making out with a “virtual” me in another room, and the result was not warm and fuzzy. In fact, I had the sudden urge to punch him in the face.
All that being said, I could not end this review without gushing just a little about Sherry Thomas’s technique. The descriptions! Oh, the descriptions. Sherry Thomas you are a descriptive god or goddess – whichever you prefer. YA fantasy is not exactly known for exquisite craft or writing technique, but Thomas is a master. As a soon to be published author, I am so very jealous. I’m not sure every reader will appreciate the level of difficulty she is demonstrating here, but let me tell you, she’s making a lot of us look like bumbling hacks.
The fear that seized her made time itself stretch and dilate. The man reading a timetable under a streetlamp yawned, his mouth opening endlessly. The diner at the next table asked his mate to “Pass the salt,” each syllable as drawn out as pulled taffy. The mate, moving as if he were inside a vat of glue, set his fingers on a pewter dish with a small spoon inside and pushed it across. […] She was not safe here. She was not safe anywhere.
And that’s why, despite any plot slow-downs, I’ll still read her next book, and her next, and so on and so on…for evermore.
Sherry Thomas is one of the most acclaimed romance authors working today. Her books regularly receive starred reviews from trade publications and are frequently found on best-of-the-year lists. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award.