Book Review, YA High Fantasy

Book Review | ROAR, by Cora Carmack

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Roar (Stormheart #1), by Cora Carmack

Publish Date: June 13, 2017
Published by: Tor Teen
Length: 380 pages
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5 stars)


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.

My Review:

Not going to lie, the cover was a real draw for me when it came to picking up this book. I was in the mood for a good high fantasy read, and I thought, “Magic and storms? Why not?” I was instantly drawn into the world of Caelira, where storms rampage sentiently, and only a certain handful of people can control them. It turned out to be a really enjoyable read, despite some qualms here and there about relationship situations and how certain plot devices were added into the storyline. 

The world-building was exquisite, with a magic system that is beyond unique and is definitely what kept my interest in the story for most of it. Sentient and magical storms? That is thrilling. I loved every bit of the world-building, for sure, save for the exception of the map which did not always match up with how things were described in the text (ah well can’t have everything).

The writing was well-done, with lots of action coinciding nicely with character driven moments. I liked how it traipsed between different point of views while focusing mainly on Roar and Locke, but using a few select others to help tell the other important storylines that Roar wasn’t privy to personally. I think my only complaint was how little information was given about certain things. There were some obvious secrets going on with Cassius, but they were so subtly hinted at that it took forever to get an inkling of what they might even be. On the one hand I hate being handed everything right away and do enjoy trying to figure out the intrigue as the story progresses, but I feel like the small hints were just a little too small at times and left me frustrated that I knew there was something more going on, but with absolutely no clue as to what until closer to the end of the book as things began to be revealed more readily. There was also one character who had a brief perspective in the beginning and was all but forgotten until well into the story, and considering how important he is to the plotline, I would have loved to have seen more of him throughout the story I think.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the romance in the book. At first, when it seemed like Rora was feeling something towards Cassius, I was deeply concerned, but when that took its turn and she realized what he was, I thought “okay.” But with Locke, I had some trouble as well. I loved their clashing personalities and desires, but there were times when Roar’s reaction to him seemed to be fear and it had me confused about just what she was feeling towards him. Looking back I see that it was more of a reaction because of how Cassius had treated her and a fear that Locke was just going to manipulate her as well, but at the time it didn’t always read that way? I’m not sure how to put it I guess.

I really enjoyed the characters, especially Roar who had to deal with so much and was discovering herself along the way – in more ways than one. I loved her determination and stubborness, her desire for adventure and to become the queen her people needed without resorting to marrying a sod like Cassius. Locke had a strong personality that came off as annoyingly possessive at times – in fact all the men were – but he also cared deeply and showed a lot of depth over the course of the novel as well. My one complaint for him was that his description made him sound like the cover model for some harlequin romance book – long hair, washboard abs, and a flowy billowy shirt that was half-open. Yeah, okay.

The secondary characters were also just as interesting, even Cassius who knew how to manipulate others based on how they reacted to him, and I almost wish we could have seen more of them, with more interactions with Roar. I especially loved Nova and Jinx, and was sad that Nova’s perspective scenes were so far and few between, and would have loved more moments between Jinx and Roar because it seemed like they could be exceptionally good friends. I couldn’t stand Sly and how single-minded she was, but the rest of the crew seemed interesting and varied enough. I’m eager to know more about Duke, for sure, because I have my suspicions about him and hope I am right.

This book had a lot of wonderful world-building, some interesting characters, and a great plotline that built slowly over the course of the novel. It had some downpoints to it, mainly things that I wanted more of sooner, but overall it was an enjoyable read that definitely has me eager for the next one.

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