Title: Ignite the Sun
Author: Hanna Howard
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: August 18th, 2020 (Blink)
Synopsis: Sixteen year-old Siria Nightingale has never seen the sun. The light is dangerous, according to Queen Iyzabel, an evil witch who has shrouded the kingdom in shadow.
Siria has always hated the darkness and revels in the stories of the light-filled old days that she hears from her best friend and his grandfather. Besides them, nobody else understands her fascination with the sun, especially not her strict and demanding parents. Siria’s need to please them is greater even than her fear of the dark. So she heads to the royal city – the very center of the darkness – for a chance at a place in Queen Iyzabel’s court.
But what Siria discovers at the Choosing Ball sends her on a quest toward the last vestiges of the sun with a ragtag group of rebels who could help her bring back the Light … or doom the kingdom to shadow forever.
Thank you to the publisher, Blink, and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Siria Nightingale lives in an island kingdom which has been shrouded by shadow for fifteen years by the witch Queen Iyzabel according to whom the light of the sun is dangerous. She has always been fascinated by stories of the old days when light still shone over the kingdom, something no one understands, especially her parents. But determined to please them and win their approval at long last, she sets out for the royal court, hoping to be chosen to serve the Queen. At the Choosing Ball however, she finds out that she is the last living sunchild, a fire nymph, capable of bringing back the sun. Siria must now journey north with a group of rebels and train her powers before the equinox to lift the Darkness once and for all.
I enjoyed the world-building and mythology in this story, which featured some magical beings not usually seen in fantasy. The lore behind it all was fascinating, but I would have liked it if the story had gone into these topics in more depth. Things are mostly focused around Siria, but certain intriguing things are mentioned and never brought up again, like the city of Umbraz and how Siria sees it from her carriage as she arrives. I really liked the description and would have loved to see more of the city.
Siria turning out to be someone special wasn’t all that much of a surprise, considering how much it was emphasized that she is very different from other girls. The Chosen One trope is getting a little old, so I wasn’t sure how this one was going to work out. However, it was fascinating to see the idea of a rebellion that seems to have lost its motivation to fight rather than the latter where the hero generally gets swept up at once into the thick of things. The evolution of Siria’s character arc was also interesting to see as she grew from a somewhat whiny girl desperate for approval to a powerful leader who learned to accept her abilities. Her family bond with Linden and Yarrow was lovely and very well-portrayed.
My main issue with this book however, was the lack of depth. I didn’t really feel any connection to the characters and for the majority of the book, my attention was on the plot. The characters had a lot of potential, but there wasn’t any time taken to build them out properly. As for the villain, well, she was certainly evil enough, but the story would have benefitted way more from some added page time for her, instead of a glimpse at the beginning and during the climactic end. It sounded like she had quite the backstory and it would have been fun to know more. The stakes in this tale are portrayed to be pretty high, but things somehow almost always seem to work out in Siria’s favour which reduces the shock factor of many things. Honestly, I think that the pacing largely saved this book and if it wasn’t as fast as it was, I would have had way more complain about, starting with how largely predictable things were after a point.
Of course, there is a lot that could be improved upon here, but for a debut novel it was decent. This was an interesting and fast-paced read that you can easily get through in a single sitting. If you’re in the mood for a fun fantasy novel that’s not too complicated, I would definitely recommend this, particularly for younger YA readers.
Ignite the Sun releases on August 18th, 2020.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!