Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova – REVIEW
Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.
Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace.
When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace undercover and complete Dez’s top-secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.
But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Hodderscape.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
“I hate that everything I am can be summed up in a few words. Scavenger. Thief. Traitor. Will they allow me to be more?”
Today is the release day of Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova, a YA fantasy inspired by the Spanish Inquisition. I was lucky enough to receive a proof copy from the publisher and absolutely adored it. The magic system and world-building are richly intricate and detailed so it takes a few chapters to understand how everything works but the rewards make it well worth persevering. Exploring themes of colonisation and eradication of culture, the story focuses on Moria (magic wielders) that are hunted by the crown of Puerto Leones. The Whispers are a rebel network fighting for Moria freedom and the action revolves around the Lynx Unit comprised of Renata, Dez, Sayida, Margo, and Esteban.
“We are bonded together by more than blood and loss. We are as inevitable as the dawn.”
Renata is the seventeen-year-old main character whose magic is feared by Moria and non-Moria alike. Known as a memory thief, Renata is able to capture memories and, if her power is applied for long enough, render someone hollow. Renata’s backstory is especially intriguing as she was captured by the crown when very young and used as a weapon during the King’s Wrath by Justice Méndez. For this reason, many of the Whispers distrust her and she is filled with self-loathing over her role in the atrocities. Her relationship with Méndez is complex because she both loves and hates him; he was a father-figure and captor. I love messy relationships like this and Renata’s character growth is well-developed in regards to dealing with her childhood trauma.
“I am the thing that everyone fears. The creature in the shadows, the warning whispered on lips across the entire court and kingdom.”
To save someone she loves, Renata decides to return to her position at court and spy for the Whispers. The political intrigue and danger are perfectly executed and had me fearing more than once that things would turn out badly. Events surprised me at every turn and I wasn’t prepared for some of the revelations. I won’t go into much of what happens here as it’s the sort of book that’s easily spoiled. Suffice it to say, the ending of this book has me desperate for the sequel. I’m so excited by the direction the action is going and I think book two has the potential to be even better. Incendiary is an engaging and action-packed fantasy with a fascinating magic system and detailed world-building. Renata was a fantastically complex character and I quickly became emotionally invested in her journey. I’d definitely recommend adding this one to your TBR pile.