Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta
To save her sister’s life, Faris must smuggle magic into a plague-ridden neighboring kingdom in this exciting and dangerous start to a brand-new fantasy duology.
Faris grew up fighting to survive in the slums of Brindaigel while caring for her sister, Cadence. But when Cadence is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly agrees to a lucrative scheme to buy her back, inadvertently binding herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne.
Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance—magic that addicts in the war-torn country can sense in her blood and can steal with a touch. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North, who offers protection from Avinea’s many dangers, but he cannot save Faris from Bryn’s cruelty as she leverages Cadence’s freedom to force Faris to do anything—or kill anyone—she asks. Yet Faris is as fierce as Bryn, and even as she finds herself falling for North, she develops schemes of her own.
With the fate of kingdoms at stake, Faris, Bryn, and North maneuver through a dangerous game of magical and political machinations, where lives can be destroyed—or saved—with only a touch.
Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta
Series: Shimmer and Burn #1
Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy & Magic
Published August 8th 2017 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Hardcover, 336 pages
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mary Taranta’s Shimmer and Burn swept me away into a world where magic can be both addictive and poisonous, a kingdom which holds its people hostage and a power-hungry Princess who threatens to topple it all.
There is a lot to love in this duology opener perfect for young adult readers looking for something new in their fantasy reads.
The protagonist Faris is just trying to keep her sister safe after losing her mother who was executed for stealing the king’s magic. I love the fact that Faris makes her extra cash by boxing and how she's not afraid to fall down and get a bit dirty. In the opening pages alone Taranta puts readers hearts through the ringer as Faris is knocked down both physically and emotionally. Determined and fierce and despite the fact she has a scheming princess blackmailing her she holds her own.
The magic is what really helps to set this story apart from other YA fantasy reads.
Shimmer and Burn has a unique world of magic. It can only be carried or wielded by certain people and it can become poisonous and addicting to others. I really liked the unique ways magic can be carried through stones and other objects which act as buffers in order to keep wielders safe. I also found it fascinating the way magic can send out strands (like a choking plant of ivy) of dangerous magic into those who manipulate it too much. I loved the sense of danger it creates as Faris, who is a carrier of magic, must side-step the very nature of this addicting and potentially dangerous magic, in order to fulfill her bargain with Princess Bryns.
I love a dark, tortured hero and North is completely swoon-worthy.
North is a magician who uses the very magic that threatens to infect him in order to protect Faris from the hellborne they encounter in the Burn. Gallant and heroic in nature but mysterious as well, we can't help but want to unravel the secrets he hides behind.
Princess Bryn is a villain that makes you want to throw the book at her.
I love a well written, morally grey character, a villain who is equally as fascinating as the heroes in a story. Princess Bryn is manipulative and scheming, often brutal in Shimmer and Burn, but there are these strange, quiet moments, where hints and glimmers of her peak through, that make you question her motives.
In the End
Shimmer and Burn is an exciting read filled with characters that you come to care about and a fascinating world of magic that holds as much danger as power. The slow-burn romance and a well-written and cunning villain you love to hate, make it a page-turner. I can't wait for the release of Splendor and Spark, the conclusion in this duology! I need more North, Faris, and yes, even Princess Bryn in my life.