Cast in Firelight – Dana Swift – ARC Review

Title: Cast in Firelight
Series: Wickery #1
: Dana Swift
Genre: YA, Fantasy
: January 19th, 2021 (Delacorte Press)

Synopsis: Adraa is the royal heir of Belwar, a talented witch on the cusp of taking her royal ceremony test, and a girl who just wants to prove her worth to her people.

Jatin is the royal heir to Naupure, a competitive wizard who’s mastered all nine colors of magic, and a boy anxious to return home for the first time since he was a child.

Together, their arranged marriage will unite two of Wickery’s most powerful kingdoms. But after years of rivalry from afar, Adraa and Jatin only agree on one thing: their reunion will be anything but sweet.

Only, destiny has other plans and with the criminal underbelly of Belwar suddenly making a move for control, their paths cross…and neither realizes who the other is, adopting separate secret identities instead.

Between dodging deathly spells and keeping their true selves hidden, the pair must learn to put their trust in the other if either is to uncover the real threat. Now Wickery’s fate is in the hands of rivals..? Fiancées..? Partners..? Whatever they are, it’s complicated and bound for greatness or destruction.

Thank you to the publisher, Penguin Random House Canada, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Heirs to their respective kingdoms, Adraa Belwar and Jatin Naupure meet as children, and their parents plan for them to be married when they are older. Needless to say, that first meeting does not go well, and after years of intense rivalry from afar, it is time for them to come face-to-face once more, something neither of them are looking forward to. Adraa is now a powerful witch, weeks away from going through the royal ceremony test to prove her mastery over the nine colours of magic and officially being declared the heir. Jatin, no less competitive, has already been through his ceremony and is returning home after years of studying abroad. Through an interesting sequence of events, neither recognizes the other when their paths cross, and when criminal activity surfaces in Belwar, the two agree to team up, both going by secret identities in order to reveal the source of the corruption and the real threats to their homes.

To start with, the cover of this book is gorgeous and what drew me to it in the first place. The author has created an intricate and unique magic system that was so fascinating. Though a large part of the story involves magic in some form, I feel like this first book has only scratched the surface of possibilities and I’m looking forward to seeing how this is expanded upon going forward. The writing style was pretty good and flowed well, which made this a rather fast read.

Adraa and Jatin were great characters and their meeting as kids was hilarious. The secret identities trope never gets old and it’s so much fun, especially when you see both characters’ perspectives as in this book, and it allowed them to get to know each other outside of royal titles and duties. Their banter was quite amusing, and while there was perhaps a touch of insta-love perhaps, it wasn’t too bad. The storyline about the stolen firelight and drug running in Belwar was all right, but a side plot at best.

However, what didn’t work in this book in my opinion, was the world-building. The characters are quite diverse and I could identify the cultural influences, but they issue is that it wasn’t uniform across all characters we meet and not as well blended as it could have been. It’s a jarring effect similar to what modern vernacular in a historical novel would sound like. It’s important to note though, that this is not a #OwnVoices book, and I found this representation to be pretty good from that aspect. The plot of this book might have taken place anywhere as I never got a specific feel of any of the places mentioned. There was little to no detail given about the surroundings, landscape, or even any idea of how far apart these places are, since apparently you can fly from one kingdom to another in little over an hour? Basically, the world-building, apart from the magical aspects fell flat for me, which is a big disappointment in any fantasy novel.

That ending, although not exactly a cliffhanger, did leave me really curious to know what happens next and I can’t wait to read the next book! Overall, this was a solid read and an intriguing start to a new fantasy series. I would definitely recommend this book for fantasy fans.

Cast in Firelight releases on January 19th, 2021.

Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series:

13 thoughts on “Cast in Firelight – Dana Swift – ARC Review

  1. Noelle January 8, 2021 / 12:34 am

    Thank you for your review! I’ve had my eyes on this novel for quite a while.

    And I absolutely love that cover. Charlie Bowater does some amazing work!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marta the Monogamist Reader January 8, 2021 / 3:31 am

    Great review!! I appreciate your honest opinion about this title. I think I’ll skip it… From all the reviews I read so far, I didn’t get the vibe it adds something more to the YA scene… 😔

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) January 10, 2021 / 10:34 am

      Thanks! I think this is a plot that has some good ideas, it’s just not put together very well, but it’s definitely not on the level of some of the better YA fantasy works I’ve read. I’m hoping that it improves in the sequel though, seeing as this is a debut novel after all.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Georgia Husselbee January 8, 2021 / 4:22 am

    I really want to read this book and I loved reading your review! The world building soundd a bit disappointing as that’s one of my favourite aspects of fantasy books but hopefully the secret identities trope will make up for it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) January 10, 2021 / 10:35 am

      Hope you enjoy it! The plot is interesting enough to compensate for the weaker world building for the most part, but I have my fingers crossed that the sequel will be better in this aspect.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jaya Avendel January 8, 2021 / 4:07 pm

    I do enjoy a good fantasy read and this book sounds interesting! I love the name “Wickery” so it is a bit of a pity the world-building was not as strong as it could have been. For me, though, compelling characters are what make me keep turning the pages. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) January 10, 2021 / 10:42 am

      Thanks for reading! This book definitely has potential, it just wasn’t put together as well as it could have been in my opinion. Hopefully the next book will be better!

      Liked by 1 person

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