Zoraida Córdova’s Incendiary holds a special place in my heart because she personally wanted to send advanced reader’s copies of this book to Latinx readers and reviewers. The catch, Córdova had one copy, so the chosen readers would have to take turns sharing. Ultimately, I was not chosen, but Zoriada did write me a letter thanking me for signing up and sent me a bookplate. Which was very nice of her!
Years later, I finally sat down to read this book, and I felt a little disappointed there was not an instant connection.
And then I got to the part where Ren witnesses Dez’s decapitation, and she turns into a ball of anger and revenge. Apparently, I just needed a bit of violence to appreciate the story
Renata is a soldier of The Whispers, a revolutionary group, intent on reclaiming the Kingdom. Because Renata has the power to steal memories and turn people into hollowed husks, The Whispers fear her but keep her with the knowledge that she’s their greatest weapon. However, The Whispers learn that the kingdom possesses a weapon that can destroy their revolution along with anyone who has magic.
When the night before the mission goes wrong, the commander of the Whispers, Dez (Andres), is taken hostage by Castian, the Prince of Puerto Leon. Castian is no stranger to violence and murdered his brother at a young age. So Ren does not hesitate to go after Dez, only she’s too late.
With a heart full of vengeance, Renata decides to return to the palace she grew up in but has few memories of; and presents herself as their weapon once again. Ren will not only have to navigate the politics of the palace but also steal the memories of those who’ve met Castian. But after searching his rooms, Ren is no closer to finding the weapon she believes the Prince to possess.
Things only become more difficult for Ren when memories from her childhood begin to surface, and she no longer trusts herself.
This book was SO good! Definitely one of my favorites this year and I wish I had read it sooner! I really liked the politic intrigue as well as Ren’s spying adventures.
Ren spends the majority of the novel hating Castian and with good reason. The Prince has a bloodied and violent reputation, as Ren has witnessed, but he’s absent for a majority of her time in the palace. This forces Ren to steal memories from those who know him, and these memories show a softer side of the Prince. And things only spiral from there!
I liked that Castian’s reputation and the memories Ren steals of people who spoke to him are at war within herself. And she can’t reconcile them with who she knows him to be. This only builds the anticipation for the confrontation between Ren and Cas, and when they finally come face to face, it’s exciting. Especially because it happens towards the end of this book.
And another layer of their confrontation is added when Castian calls Ren by a nickname only her father knew which means they had to have been besties as children.
I also enjoyed the reveal of Castian’s true nature. He’s arrogant, but like Ren, we discover that he’s been manipulated his whole life too. All in all, he’s just an actor and is really an exhausted Prince ready to run away from his problems.
I already love these two together because their first time their alone, Ren doesn’t hesitate to kick his ass for murdering Dez.
I also thought it was brilliant that Ren cannot trust her memories. Ren has so many stolen memories and her own that are locked up in an area of her mind she calls the gray that sometimes the two bleed together. Ren receives glimpses of her childhood memories until she gains the courage to unlock them. Ultimately it’s these memories that push Ren to trust Castian.
Additionally, Ren’s inner conflict served to emphasize her insecurities of becoming the monster everyone presumes her as.
This book is written so brilliantly and it has a lot of plot twists so if you’re a fan of medieval fantasy inspired by the Spanish inquisition definitely consider reading this novel.
Content warnings: violence, decapitation, manipulative family members, manipulative friends, torture
Since I’ve already devoured the sequel, I won’t take to long to post my thoughts for it. But it slaps too! Buy both novels together and you won’t regret it.
until next time I’ll be living in libros,
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Wow, sounds intense, but also fascinating! I love the concept of Ren experiencing conflicting memories about Castian that finally build toward a more complete picture.
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