Roar (Stormheart #1) by Cora Carmack (2017)
YA Fiction | Fantasy | Romance
“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.”
pooled ink Review:
Honestly I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of storm-magic at first (as in when I read the book’s description). It just didn’t come across as something that had me convinced to read this book. What did convince me was Stephanie’s (Teacher of YA) review and just how enthusiastic she was. I decided to go for it and oh my word, I am incredibly glad that I chose to do so because I was hardly two pages in before I fell completely captivated. Cassius definitely had a lot to do with that (lol), but I also liked Aurora right off the bat. And in fact, the whole idea of stormhearts and magic and storm hunters was surprisingly awesome, definitely unique, more detailed and intricate and thrilling than I had expected, and I ended up really loving the whole concept.
This book had me sprawled across my bed enthralled until the dog I was caring for reminded me that it was time for a walk, but the whole time I was walking her around the neighborhood my mind was still stuck in this book. It got its hooks in me and didn’t let go.
I actually clicked pretty well with the main character, Aurora, a sheltered but surprisingly fierce princess who struggles between heavy burdens laced with insecurities and the desire to claim her own fate. She is a princess with a kingdom but no magic to protect it. The bulk of the story follows Aurora, even as the book switches between her and Locke’s POVs, but there are also brief scenes sprinkled throughout from Nova’s and Cassius’ POVs that keep us in touch with the events in Pavan and all that Aurora’s adventure has cost her home.
These brief glimpses were placed very well within the story, managing to avoid interrupting the plot in a jolting or awkward way. They fell naturally within the timeline and really kept the world-building from collapsing. Too often a main character goes away on some big quest or journey and the story shrinks down to their two feet and wherever they go. Most books don’t allow us to keep a realistic hold on the fact that just because a stifled princess leaves the palace, doesn’t mean that all her troubles simply fade away. The world does in fact keep on turning and those actions do indeed have consequences regardless of whether or not they are there to witness them.
On the other hand some books take this desire for a complex and expansive world too far by injecting too many POVs, or too many chapters/scenes that jump-cut the main plot to jostle you about the constructed world of the story and it all becomes too much. By trying to channel everything at once it instead keeps the reader from being able to really bond with the main character and get connected to their journey. I felt that Carmack struck a great balance with this and it totally worked in my opinion.
Now onto one of the biggest plotlines of this book: the romance.
Cassius. OMG. He reminds me of the Darkling (Grisha Trilogy) or even a bit of “Under the Mountain” Rhys (ACOTAR). He needs Aurora for his own secret means, but you can just tell from the first moment you meet him that there is so much more beneath the carefully chosen façade and it’s incredibly alluring. There was a ton of chemistry and intensity between him and Aurora in those opening chapters before Aurora ends up thrown on a different path.
Along with this deviation from the planned life as a Queen comes a different handsome man vying for her attentions despite trying very hard not to want to do so. If you’re starting to panic then don’t. There’s not a love triangle in this book because despite the intensity of their first meeting, there just wasn’t enough time spent between Aurora and Cassius for any true romance to bloom. Well, Cassius is definitely captured by her, but unfortunately Aurora overhears words exchanged with his brother and loses all the trust and hope she’d initially, albeit tentatively, placed in him.
Despite my intrigue in Cassius I’m glad that we get to see Aurora try to escape her fate by leaving the palace to embark on an epic adventure that transforms her from a sheltered princess into a badass heroine.
So who’s this other guy then? His name is Locke and he is certainly swoon-worthy. He’s the rugged warrior boyfriend type of character who is actually a teddy bear inside and who only wants to love and strengthen and protect the girl he loves. I loved the romance and relationship that grows between him and Aurora but it was hard to accept at first.
I think that the heat with Cassius was so intense and so immediate that it made it hard to quickly change gears and focus on Locke. It probably would have been easier if I’d believed Cassius to be a traitorous, manipulative villain, but I simply didn’t so my heart held hope for him for a long time until it became clear that Locke was the guy meant for Aurora. I can totally support Aurora and Locke being together but the intense emotional shift that happens with Cassius occurred so quickly that it made it hard for me to warm up to Locke at first…then again the same was for Aurora (albeit for different reasons).
Look, when it comes down to it I don’t care that Cassius lied and came to Pavan with ulterior motives. He is clearly above his psychotic family and I’m rooting for him (even though I’m sure I am insane for doing so haha). I’m down with Aurora and Locke being together, but don’t hurt Cassius. Cassius is just this icy, dark, mysterious, handsome antihero with an iceberg of emotions and hidden motives hidden up his sleeves and I’m very interested to see how his role will evolve.
Seeing as the romance is such a strong part of the story you have to be open to that fact before diving into this book. You definitely get a lot of action and adventure, but every page is also glossed with romantic tensions between Aurora and Locke. So if that’s going to annoy you because you just want warriors and destruction then maybe go for Nevernight instead. But if you like the seductive combination of romance and fantasy adventure (such as with A Court of Thorns and Roses) then this is definitely for you.
This book ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger. Many questions have only begun to come unraveled as a great enemy seeks destruction of Pavan, an earth-tilting love faces the inevitable discovery of long buried truths, and the storms whisper secrets shattering all they thought they knew. Roar pauses on the edge of a moment, teetering between the end of discovery and the beginning of destiny.
Crackling with an unceasing energy, burning with a heart-pounding romance, and fierce with a unique realm of magic and thrilling adventure, Roar is a fantasy story that once begun is quickly devoured and leaving you restless for more. It is passionate, exhilarating, fantastical, and sure to mesmerize.
P.S. What a gorgeous cover and can I please have that dress! (With the daggers, of course 😉 )
Purchase here: Roar
Similar recommended reads: Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta [review coming soon!], Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, The Young Elites by Marie Lu, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Sora’s Quest by T.L. Shreffler, Gilded Cage by Vic James
Meet Cora Carmack!
Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life– boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Losing It series.