Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova – A Review

Hi! Happy release date to Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova. I was lucky enough to read an early copy, so here’s my review.

Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova
  • Publication date: April 28th 2020
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
  • Genre: Fantasy

I am Renata Convida.

I have lived a hundred stolen lives.

Now I live my own.

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 under cover 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.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Incendiary is an introduction to Zoraida Córdova’s writing for me, even though I’ve had a few of her other books on my TBR for a while. This book has been hyped up for months and I requested it without really thinking I’ll get approved. Surprisingly, I did!

The plot had me intrigued, being loosely based on the Spanish Inquisition, with the main character having magic powers to steal people’s memories. It sounded right up my alley. Rebels, spies, magic – overall, my reading experience was positive.

The book throws you in the deep end from the start, giving very little explanation as to what is going on, which left me quite confused. I don’t usually like that in books, as I find it slows down the pace, because I’m constantly trying to figure out what’s happening. I needed a good while to get my bearings and be able to follow the story. But once I was in, I was hooked.

Renata, the main character, is a Robari, which means she can steal memories with a simple touch. It makes her a really powerful weapon. Kidnapped as a child by the king’s people and used for her magic, plagued by other people’s memories and not being able to remember her own, she finds it difficult to find her place in the world and it doesn’t change when she joins the Whispers, a group of rebel spies.

Though there are plenty of YA fantasies out there with a similar plot line, Incendiary was and enjoyable read and a solid first book to a series I’m sure I’ll love. The world building was rich, and I really loved the magic system, though I would definitely like to see how it works a bit better. I find YA books often lack the political intrigue (even if the plot centers around it, i.e. someone wants to take back the throne) and I’m glad that wasn’t the case with Incendiary.

Renata was not my favourite protagonist. On the contrary, I kind of disliked her, but it didn’t take away from my engagement with the story. Her story arc was interesting enough for me to keep reading, even though her decisions annoyed me. None of the Whispers were particularly great, either, but I loved Leo and to my absolute surprise… Castian. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book where I was openly rooting for the antagonist.

The ending was really what warranted the rating, though I’ve called it to a T. It transformed from a solid book to a fast paced page-turner I love in fantasy. I don’t mind when stories are predictable (unless they’re mystery/thrillers) and the fact I knew the twist before it was revealed didn’t diminish my enjoyment in any way, it made me more excited to know what happens next.

I’m definitely going to continue with the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Will you be picking up this book?

Thank you for reading!

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