Series: Hollow Crown #1
Author: Zoraida Cordova
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: April 28th, 2020 (Hodder & Stoughton)
Synopsis: 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.
In the kingdom of Puerto Leones, the Moria people who can wield magic are persecuted for their abilities. As a Robari, Renata’s feared power to steal memories saw her kidnapped and brought to the palace as a child to serve the King’s Justice. Years later, Renata is part of the rebellion that rescued her, the Whispers, who help the surviving Moria all over the kingdom to escape – but she is still an outcast due to the nature of her powers, friendless except for the commander of her unit, Dez. When Dez is captured by the Prince and a rescue attempt goes disastrously wrong, Renata must now step in and complete his mission – which means returning to her former captors in the palace. But what she finds is not what she expects as the familiar surroundings stir memories of her childhood that have long since been locked away, and Renata will have first find the answers to her own past even as she works to help her people.
I’ve been waiting to read this book since April and I’m so glad to have finally gotten around to it! Incendiary was…one wild ride. I barely had time to wrap my head around one thing before the next pops up. There were a lot of common tropes in this, admittedly, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Nothing felt cliched and this was a surprisingly easy read. This was actually my first time reading a novel by this author, though I’ve heard so many good things about her books, and I have to say, I really liked her writing style. The world building is something that unfolds throughout the story rather than one big info dump at the beginning. The only thing I wished would have been explained better was the magic system. While a lot of thought has clearly been put into it, there are parts of it that are still rather vague such as its origins and limits.
Incendiary was very much a journey of discovery for Renata who has lost so many of her own memories even as she struggles with those she has taken from others along with the feeling of never quite fitting in anywhere as even the rebels are severely distrustful of her, sometimes hostilely so. It was really interesting to see how the narrative changes along with Renata’s goals as she unlocks more and more of her past and the blanks are filled in for us right alongside her. She is a variation of an unreliable narrator I guess, but in a form that I haven’t come across before. This partial information she is basing her decisions on make her incredibly reckless and impulsive at times, and there were times I just wanted to scream in frustration. But of course, this makes Renata quite an interesting character and I loved both her arc and backstory which was very well crafted.
Given the ending of this book, I am now really curious to know more about Prince Castian, and it would be amazing to see some chapters from his perspective in the next book. I think it’s rather unlikely considering how solidly focussed this is on Renata’s journey, but it would be fascinating to get a second perspective. The big reveal at the end wasn’t all that surprising as there were several hints dropped leading up to it, but it does add a new layer of complexity to an already delightfully intricate tale. It was quite delightful to see so many pieces come together and there are still so many unanswered questions that I’m really looking forward to seeing answered in the sequel. Overall, Incendiary was an entertaining and fast paced read and I would definitely recommend it!
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: