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I Belong

Early Review: Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie

Burning GlassTitle: Burning Glass

Author: Kathryn Purdie

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Burning Glass (Book #1)

Publication Date: March 1, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 512 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062412361 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062412362 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Zed


Red Queen meets Shadow and Bone in a debut fantasy about a girl forced to use her gift for sensing—and absorbing—other people’s feelings to protect the empire from assassins. Steeped in intrigue and betrayal, Burning Glass captivates with heartrending romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s quest for redemption.

In Riaznin, it’s considered an honor for Auraseers like Sonya—girls with a rare form of synesthesia—to serve as the emperor’s personal protector, constantly scanning for feelings of malice and bloodlust in the court. But Sonya would rather be free.

After the queen’s murder and a tragic accident, Sonya is hauled off to the palace to guard a charming yet volatile new ruler. But Sonya’s power is reckless and hard to control. She’s often carried away by the intense passion of others.

And when a growing rebellion forces Sonya to side with either the emperor who trusts her or his mysterious brother, the crown prince, Sonya realizes she may be the key to saving the empire—or its greatest threat.

Quick & Dirty: Is the ability to sense other’s emotions a gift or a curse?

Opening Sentence: I clutched the carved figurine of the goddess until a splinter of wood bit my finger.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Until I read the synopsis I wasn’t aware synesthesia was an actual thing! I can’t imagine being able to sense everyone’s emotions around me as if they were my own; all those auras penetrating my thoughts would surely drive me to insanity. So many emotions to filter through, it was no wonder that Sonya was always so confused!

Most Auraseers have years of training to master their art but Sonya is literally thrown into the lion’s den since she is the oldest surviving Auraseer. Sonya is funny, impossibly curious and can barely control her power, which usually results in her making a fool of herself. I loved her flawed character because in spite of being the ‘Sovereign Auraseer,’ she doesn’t try to prove her worth to anyone, her aim is to maintain control and somehow redeem herself from all the mistakes that have cost her loved ones lives.

When Sonya is caught up in Valko’s infatuation I began to wonder whether she would be pushed to the dark side but she somehow pulls herself away. To be caught between the two brothers like that, knowing that they both have feelings for her but not fully understanding her own must have been really weird and misleading for both boys. One minute she’s embracing Valko and the next she’s begging Anton to dance with her! It’s very hard to fault Sonya because the boys’ emotions are pressing into her to the extent that she confuses them with her own. At times she doesn’t know how she really feels, which is sad because she can’t make her own decisions without doubting herself.

“Do you never take responsibility for your own emotions?” he asked.
“They far too often belong to someone else.”

To begin with, I fell under the spell of the brooding, reserved Anton and his tragic history but towards the end he became an annoyance. Although he is the secret leader of the rebellion, Anton literally hands Sonya over to his obsessive manic brother, to do with her as he pleases. Since Valko is emperor and Anton is just a prince, I understand why he does this but that does not mean I liked it. It’s clear from the start that Anton cares for Sonya but he pretends that he doesn’t in the hope that she’ll be safe. Surely he knows his brother better than that?

If Anton thought he could protect me from all the palace politics, he was wrong. I wasn’t the naive girl he took me to be, the simpleton he fleetingly tried to rescue from distress. Why couldn’t he be the hero to me in public? Why always behind closed doors?

Megalomaniac Valko is easier to dislike but with almost every villain there’s a sad story, and a few times I felt sorry for him. Like Anton, Valko lost his family too but as emperor he feels obligated to prove himself as the rightful heir, competing against his brother for everything, even love. Just when it seems like Valko isn’t so bad, he does something super evil and destroys the spark of hope before it can grow further.

My favourite characters were Pia and Tosya. Both of them brought the humour to the story and encouraged Sonya’s silliness, reminding the reader that despite her huge responsibility as the Emperor’s protector she’s just a young, perpetually confused girl.

“No,” I smacked his chest. “You got taller.”
“That’s what my friends keep telling me, but I have this theory that everything in the world keeps shrinking but myself.”
“Hmm. I think your education gave you an ego.”
“A necessary requirement of a poet. That and a wide range of insecurities.”

There was so much build up of the peasant’s hunger and injustice, Valko’s paranoia, the growing rebellion, etc., but when it came to the crunch, the ending was a disappointment. Without revealing too many spoilers I was happy with the overall result but the last few chapters just did not sit well with me. Especially because after everything Anton does, he ends up sitting in the dungeons! It’s frustrating because had the finale been more I would have given Burning Glass a 4-star rating.

Notable Scene:

I couldn’t say what urged me to show this stranger I was more than the pitiful girl staring back at him, looking no better than the charred bones of the convent. I was. At least as far as he should believe. I pulled my spine erect, elongated my neck, and met his stare with every ember of fire burning within me.

Dare to think of me what you will, I hoped the look I gave him said. I am Sonya Petrova. And I am not broken.

Burning Glass Series:

1. Burning Glass


FTC Advisory: Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins provided me with a copy of Burning Glass. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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