Roar by Cora Carmack
Book One of the Stormheart series
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.
Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.
To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.
Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.
She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.
Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.
What I Liked:
I've read several of Cora Carmack's New Adult novels (her Losing It series, specifically), and I've had pretty good success with those books. When I saw that Cora would be publishing a YA novel - her YA debut - I was pretty thrilled! Especially after reading the synopsis, and then seeing the cover of this book. I had high expectations for Roar, and my expectations were met and exceeded.
Aurora Pavan is the heir to the throne of Pavan, daughter of many powerful royals... and a magic-less Stormling. She and her mother have hid this for years, isolating Aurora from everyone. But as she is now eighteen, and the Rage season is coming, they can't hide Aurora for much longer. The solution? Arrange a marriage with the second son of the King of Locke - Prince Cassius, the cold, hard young man with more Stormhearts than a second son should ever have. When she follows him one night, Aurora discovers a black market full of magic, in which people are buying and selling storm magic, thanks to storm hunters. Aurora may not have her own true Stormling magic, but she can learn and obtain this storm magic. This way, she can take control of her destiny.
Usually I don't love it when books have long synopses, like the one we see on Goodreads and on the back cover of this book, but I actually really appreciated that long synopsis. On the surface, this book isn't complicated: girls has to get married, girls finds a new option to be free, girl runs away, girl hides who she is to her new friends, girl learns about her power... and then the ending of the book, which I won't spoil. There is a lot more going on than meets the eye!
Aurora (or Rora - or Roar) is a complicated girl. Yes, she is a princess and therefore much more privileged than most of the common folk in her country who are poor and destitute and often denied citizenship (a fact that Aurora doesn't know). But Aurora is lonely and she is forced into this arranged marriage for her safety. She hates that she has no choice, but she also wants to live. Aurora has a temper and sometimes she gets too upset and too impulsive and is too reckless. But she has a good heart and she defends and protects herself well.
Prince Cassius is more complex than the cruel, hard villain that we expect him to be. I still don't like him and I'm still very convinced that he is a "villain" archetype, but we really get to understand what his motives are, and why he is so desperate and angry. He does terrible things to Rora (mostly manipulative), and I can't like him because of those actions. But I can appreciate how Carmack dug into his character and made him more than just a villain, in terms of character archetypes.
I should mention that there are five key POVs in this book: Rora's, Cassius's (occasionally), Nova's, Locke's, and Evil Dude (I won't say much about him). Nova is Rora's childhood friend and maid (yeah that's a little strange, I know), and Locke is... Locke. Incredible storm hunter, and Rora's love interest. Though he is so much more than a love interest.
You can probably already tell, but Locke is my favorite character of this book. He and Rora go toe-to-toe in nearly every scene of this book, which is so fun to watch. He is equally as stubborn as she is, and he is just as used to getting his way. A big difference is that he is a natural, commanding leader, and he is in charge and used to being in charge. He has great instincts and he is very clever. Rora should have trusted him more initially! He is very smart and intuitive, and also protective and a good man. He is strong-willed too, hence the clashes.
Seriously, Locke and Rora were so fun to watch. They butt heads on every page - which isn't surprising, because their personalities are like fire and ice. They're similar, and yet so different. Rora is fire, with her temper, and Locke is ice, with his cool facade and worldly experience. The romance was steamy and explosive! With all of the bickering and banter and constant arguments, you know the romance was going to be on fire. This romance was also hate-to-love (sort of), which is my favorite. Locke and Rora are so great together!
No love triangle! It might seem that way, because Rora is contracted to marry Cassius. But she loathes him (and for good reasons), and he doesn't really care about her either (she is a means to an end, for him). And then Rora falls for Locke (and vice versa) and it's legit. Of course, Locke is in the dark about who she is but... anyway, no love triangle in this book. I don't really get the sense that Carmack will work a love triangle in the next books, but who knows? I hope not.
The world-building of this story is amazing! I personally haven't read any YA fantasy like this - in terms of the storms and stormhearts and storm magic. Usually it's the elements (earth, fire, wind, water), and you can kind of see the elements play a factor, but in the storms. I can't wait to see more about the storms in the next book! And of course, I would like to see more of a high-stakes aspect that YA high fantasy often has - but we see the beginnings of this type of plot, with the introduction of the Evil Dude who is planning the destruction of kingdoms.
Most of this book deals with Rora running from Pavan and joining Locke's storm hunting team, in which she learns a lot about storm hunting and survival. No one knows who she is, not even Locke. But towards the end of the book, Rora knows she must make a choice. This book honestly didn't have a ton about the storms and magic and whatnot, or the political situation. BUT I think Carmack is setting up all of that for the next books. This book barely scratched the surface of Rora and Locke's story, and so I'm looking forward to seeing more about the storms, the Evil Dude, Locke's past, Rora's reveal, the political situation in Pavan, even Nova's situation. Suffice it to say, I need more!
What I Did Not Like:
Sometimes Rora and her temper got on my nerves, especially when she was a little mean to Locke and then didn't apologize for what she said - and yet he basically groveled and went above and beyond, whenever he messed up. I think an important part of being such a strong and independent female is that you should own up to your mistakes. A lot of YA and adult female authors like to have these strong female protagonists in their book and a male who caters to the female. BUT, I these female protagonists should own their mistakes, apologize, and not act so superior. Just like how the authors have the male acting.
Would I Recommend It:
If you like YA fantasy romance, this is a great start to the series! I might recommend waiting though, because I'm always wary of YA fantasy series these days. Love triangles seem to be reemerging in YA in general, and I personally am not a fan - though I don't think Carmack will be going that route, in this series. But again, who knows. THIS book was good. Hopefully the rest of the series is. The world-building of this book is very unique and so intriguing - honestly I would recommend this book based on the world-building alone!
4 stars. A story as beautiful as its cover! I can't wait to read the next book! And also check out its cover. I hope the cover is just as stunning!
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