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.
Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.
Cora Carmack nailed it with her first foray into Young Adult Fantasy. I’ve been a fan of Carmack’s for years, as her New Adult books are everything I look for when I read NA. Roar, book one in the Stormheart, series is what I’ve come to love about YAF with a strong heroine, magical worlds, and things not what they seem.
The most important thing an author needs to do when writing fantasy is to create a world that the reader can connect with. Carmack does this nicely, bringing the people and dangers of Caelira to life. We live in a world where storms can kill and Carmack takes that a step further in this book, making storms an enemy that must be defeated and the people who can do it powerful leaders in more ways than one. When Aurora is born without the magic she needs to lead and protect her people, she’s forced into an arranged marriage, but when she discovers that magical abilities aren’t as cut and dry as she’s been taught, it changes everything and sets her on an adventure that alters her life.
Aurora is a heroine that I found myself loving as much as I did Katniss or Tris. Though naïve, she’s been taught to trust no one and to keep her emotions in check by her mother, the queen. She discovers an inner strength she didn’t know she had and acts on it, perhaps a bit impulsively, but as a young woman who has decided it’s time to take charge of her own life. A bit reckless for sure, Aurora nonetheless is determined to be the leader her country needs. I loved her spirit, ability to adapt, and her quick wit. But, perhaps it was her capacity for empathy that moved me the most.
The book opens with Aurora’s betrothal to Prince Cassius who, unlike Aurora, has the magic to protect the land of Pavan. Cassius is secretive, manipulative, and powerful, yet Aurora has no choice but to marry him if she wants Pavan protected from the coming storm season. Despite all this, she finds herself attracted to him, hopeful that their marriage can be a true partnership. His betrayal sends her literally into the arms of Locke, a storm hunter that holds the answers to Aurora’s prayers. Moody and a powerful hunter, Locke reluctantly takes Aurora under his wing. As Aurora learns of the world outside of Pavan, she and Locke fight their attraction to each other. Not quite a love triangle and not the insta-love I’ve seen some reviewers suggest, Aurora’s experiences with both Cassius and Locke felt natural to the story, something I’d expect from a young woman’s first experiences with the opposite sex.
Roar is filled with action that plays out in the mind of the reader as easily as it does on page. I loved the imagery of the hunters standing in the eye of the storm, reaching out to touch its magic. When we eventually see someone reach for a Stormheart, the soul of the storm and where it’s magic is centered, it’s gripping. I felt it as surely as if I were standing there myself. Aurora’s emotional reaction to the storms is just as powerful.
I really enjoyed Roar and my only complaint was that it got off to a slow start. I found that it took me awhile to really engage with the characters and I often found excuses to not pick it back up. Then, suddenly I couldn’t put it down, my heart was racing, and I might have shed a tear or two. Carmack surrounds the main cast of characters with a great supporting cast that I would’ve liked to get to know better. And, despite a big reveal, don’t expect all your questions answered. Roar ends in a cliffhanger as it’s book one in a trilogy.
Scroll down for an excerpt from Roar and a giveaway.
4 Stars for Roar. Heat level: 1.5.
I received this book from the author and InkSlingerPr in exchange for honest feedback.
Roar was published in June 2017 by Tor Teen.
“No need to burn people from the inside out, Etel. This one is with me.”
A large, masculine form pressed into Rora’s side, and a heavy arm draped over her shoulders. The old woman straightened. She scowled and spit on the ground, and when she spoke, her tone was higher, less raspy, “Ye could have told me that, Locke, before I wasted me time.”
Rora froze. Cassius. He’d found her. She had been so distracted by the woman and her wares that she hadn’t thought to keep watch. He pulled her forward, and her feet dragged like lead. She couldn’t take a deep enough breath, and her eyes began to cloud with tears.
What have I done? How will I explain this? What will he do to me?
“Come on, girl. I’m doing you a favor getting you away from that fraud. You could at least play along.”
Rora lurched to a stop, and jerked her head upward. That wasn’t Cassius. Her hood began to slip backward. She tried to catch it, but her movements lagged behind her mind, and her injured arm had grown stiff and numb. Cool air hit her uncovered cheeks, her nose, then her forehead. Even with the scarf hiding her hair, she might be recognized. And she had a feeling this was a very bad place for a princess to be.
The hood’s descent halted; it wasn’t her fingers that had caught the fabric but his. He was so tall that Rora had to crane her head back to see him. His hair was a dark, wavy brown and hung long enough to brush against his shoulders.
“Keep that hood up. This is no place for little girls.”
“I’m not a little girl!” She clamped her mouth shut, immediately wishing she could take the declaration back. Not only because it sounded exactly like what a little girl would say but also because she had not tempered her volume. At all. And thought it wasn’t Cassius who caught her, he was here somewhere. She bit her lip in worry, and the stranger’s eyes tracked down to her mouth briefly before darting around her face.
He still held on to her hood, keeping it back enough that he could see her eyes. “So you’re not a little girl. Still doesn’t mean this is any place for you.”
She could not argue with that.
“She called you Locke.”
His eyes narrowed. “Yes. And?”
“As in…Prince Locke?”
He laughed so hard that he released her hood. She rushed to grab it and pull it down to cover her face. She had no doubt people were staring now. He sucked in a breath, and then as if he couldn’t help himself, burst into laughter all over again.
Still chuckling, he said, “I’m about as much a prince, as you are a princess.”
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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.