From New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack comes her debut young adult fantasy,
Releasing June 13, 2017,
ROAR takes readers on an adventure filled with charismatic characters in an enthralling world sure to keep them turning the pages. Order your copy today!
Author: Cora Carmack
Publication Date: 13 June 2017
Publisher: Tor Teen
Series: Stormheart, book 1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Age Recommendation: 14 and up
Rating: 5 Stars
~ I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~
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.
I, like so many, have been over eager to get my hands on this book, I am honestly still in a bit of disbelief that I was given the chance to review it early. Sufficed to say I was not disappointed, Roar was everything I had hoped it would be.
Cora's world building is elegant and carefully crafted. This is the type of world that you want to see on the big screen so you can fully take in the grandeur of it. It is a world that while fantasy leans to a dystopian look in my mind. We have the classic fantasy elements of an almost renaissance time period (oh and hey there may be a bit of steampunk thrown in there) but the idea of these storms that ravage the kingdoms, towns, and wild lands must create a bit of a silent deserted feel as well. A reader might look at that and thing it would be overwhelming but Cora blends these elements beautifully so that instead of this disjointed mashup you get a cinematic feel to the world that these characters inhabit.
Speaking of the characters, where does one even begin, well with our heroine of course:
Aurora/Rora/Roar, she is everyone of those those names rolled into a kick ass heroine who is fighting for her own destiny instead of accepting one that will keep her trapped in a world of secrets, lies, and deceit. Rora has spent her life trying to live up to the expectations of others while her heart and mind have cried for freedom and adventure. To protect her family and kingdom she has resigned herself to continuing that lonely path, hoping that she can find some joy in knowing that she is giving her 'freedom' to protect her home. Having been kept apart from building true relationships with people so that her secrets can remain safe her first encounters with her betrothed Prince Cassius turn sweet and romantic rather quickly and honestly you are going to fall for him too...but don't get too attached, sigh. It isn't long until Rora's fairytale falls apart and she discovers not one shocking truth but many, leading her to know that the only way she will ever be able to be happy, to be free, to be able to protect her home and her family is to go in search of her own power...she must step outside the safety of her kingdom, she must become Roar!
I loved how driven Roar is, how she doesn't back down from a fight, and proves to others over and over again that she is worthy of being more than a pampered princess in an ivory tower. She reminded me a lot of Scarlet from A.C. Gaughen's Scarlet series, which is also a series that I LOVED. These are both strong heroines, who refuse to give up, refuse to backdown when it comes to protecting the ones they love and those that rely on them. No doubt Roar (and Scarlet) has her faults, she is more than bit impetuous, overly untrusting, and perhaps a bit starved for attention, but all of these traits as well as her spirit, her drive, her heart build together to make a heroine we can all be proud of and find not only a bit of kinship in but someone who can be looked up to as a female character.
Prince Cassius, this was probably my biggest challenge in the book and no it is not because he was more than a bit controlling, no...it was because I grew to like him very quickly and then Cora yelled 'PLOT TWIST' and the nice little plan I had laid out in my head fell to ash at my feet very quickly. I honestly because concerned that we were headed down one of my most dreaded trope paths, the love-triangle but no worries that didn't happen, what did happen is that Prince Cassius kind of just becomes background noise. I wanted and still want so much more from him. I am assuming form the bits and pieces that we see of him through the remainder of the book that he is still going to play a large part in the entire story and I so hope we don't end up back with me worried about a love triangle again but I don't want him to just disappear either. In fact I had a brilliant idea this morning that maybe he and Roar's friend Nova could....well, anyway that gets into a bit of Stockholm Syndrome and I don't know how well that plays out in YA, but really Cora, think on that. Haha
Roar's *band of Merry 'Men'*
I loved this group of characters, so diverse in personalities and backgrounds. Their bonds are solid and their faith in one another strong. I really hope that we won't see a dissolution of this team anytime soon. I know that there are some among them who's faith may be wavering, but I think that person can be brought around.
I love the father figure in Duke, the joker in Bait, the rock that is Ransom, the friendship to be found in Jinx, the quiet watchfulness of Sly, and the strength of Locke.
I am more than pleased with the relationships that Roar builds with each of these characters in particular with Jinx and Locke. I love watching the friendship between her and Jinx unfold, love seeing two strong female leads come together with trust (though there are still secrets) and faith in one another instead of petty or cruel behavior which we sadly see in my opinion too often in Y.A.s.
Locke, well of course I loved him. He carries the weight of the world on his shoulder such like Roar. He is strong of body, heart, and mind. He is faithful, dependable, giving, caring, a task master but not a brute. He will push each person to find their personal best but he pushes himself twice as hard. He may come across as controlling, but he has the lives of his team, his family, in his hands and he will do anything to protect them and their way of life. He does not give Roar an easy time just because he has romantic feelings toward her, perhaps he actually pushes her harder because he doesn't know what to do with the feelings, but Roar does not back down, they both give as good as they get and I love that about their relationship. I also love that in the hard world of their lives they find the time to break away and find joy in being silly together. They may bond over their initial frustration with each other but they find more together in the moments of quiet and silliness that Cora gives us. It was a pleasure to watch them grow and develop their relationship into what they have at the end of he book. I won't say that there was an insta-love there, definitely insta-attraction, but the final relationship is built over time and through many trials and moments of happiness.
I don't think as a reader you will be surprised by several of the occurrences in the plot. Cora leaves a trail of little clues though out, but this book will most definitely keep you on the edge of your seat and turning pages. I finished it in one sitting because I simply couldn't put it down, much to my family's chagrin. The plot in Roar is so layered that everytime you peel one layer back you are hit with another so each time a 'surprise' is revealed it is easy to move through it and straight into the next adventure. You own't be shocked, you will simply just not be ready to ever have the story end.
I am so ready for book two, while you aren't left with a cliff hanger that will have you screeching in rage we are left with so much more to come, so many adventures to be had, battles to be fought, secrets to be uncovered, and relationships to be fulfilled. (Ahem, Cassius and Nova, Locke and Roar, Ransom and Jinx, the Queen and Duke....I know I am stretching her but Bait and Sly. *lifts eyebrow and smiles giddily at Cora's picture*
If you are a fan of YA, a fan of Fantasy, just a fan of a darn good book get this one in your hands and settle in for an amazing adventure. I am going to go do a re-read now and I never do re-reads, that's how much I loved this book!
You are lightning made flesh. Colder than falling snow. Unstoppable as the desert sands riding the wind. You are Stormling, Aurora Pavan. Believe it.
Believe it, and others will too.
It was a vow that her mother, Queen Aphra, made her swear on the day she reached twelve years. She had gripped her daughter’s shoulders tight, and Rora could still remember the pinch of pain, the furious beat of her heart as she saw how afraid her mother was and learned to be afraid too.
Today that fear had led Aurora Pavan to sign her life away before she ever had the chance to really live it.
As she was primped and prettied like some kind of sacrificial offering, her mind remained stuck on her morning spent in the throne room. She recalled the rasping sounds as the treaty was unrolled and the way her fingers suddenly felt too weak to hold a quill. Many days of her sheltered life had been spent writing out ideas and facts and figures for her tutors, yet in that moment, she had struggled to remember the letters of her name. Then she had met her mother’s eyes, and those familiar words came to her again.
Colder than falling snow.
That was what Rora had to become as her shaking hand sealed her fate with a scratchy, bleeding line of ink. And now hours later a stranger peered back at her from the looking glass, powdered white so that none of her flaws would show.
Rora’s white-blonde hair had been curled and bound up in an elaborate ceremonial headdress that was crowded with jewels, flowers, and four jagged crystals cut like bolts of lightning to mimic her mother’s skyfire crown. Headdresses honoring a family’s ancestors were an important part of Pavanian tradition for the upper echelons of nobility to the poor and working class. They were donned for birth and death and every major life event in between, including betrothals. But this headdress was larger than Rora had ever seen. It had to be anchored to the thick metal necklace she wore about her collar with embellished fastenings, and it weighed on her nearly as much as the events of the night still to come.
Her already pale skin had been covered in a shimmering white powder, which made her look like she’d just emerged from a blizzard. Her ribs were tightly bound in a corset that squeezed and squeezed until it felt like all her organs were in the wrong place. Over that was a heavy, beaded gown whose neckline dipped low, revealing far more cleavage than she had ever shown. The fabric clung to her frame until it fanned out at her knees into a long train, and the color of the dress changed from white to ash gray to glittering black.
Rora looked exactly as her mother had always told her to be—lightning made flesh: blinding white and bright against a dark sky, and the train that pooled around her was the ground, charred black by her impact.
It was stunning. Exquisite, really. Even, Rora, who hated dresses of all kinds, could tell that. It was also a lie. Every jewel, every bead painted a picture of someone that wasn’t her. But that was the goal for tonight’s betrothal celebration…to be someone else, to be the perfect Stormling princess. Because if she failed, everything could fall apart.
(ROAR Swag Pack and $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift Card for 1 Winner!)
About Cora Carmack: Cora Carmack is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Since she was a teenager, her favorite genre to read has been fantasy, and now she’s thrilled to bring her usual compelling characters and swoon-worthy romance into worlds of magic and intrigue with her debut YA fantasy, Roar. Her previous adult romance titles include the Losing It, Rusk University, and Muse series. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages around the world. Cora splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City, and on any given day you might find her typing away at her computer, flying to various cities around the world, or just watching Netflix with her kitty Katniss. But she can always be found on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her website www.coracarmack.com.
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