Thursday, November 21, 2019

Review: Roar by Cora Carmack

Book: Roar
Author: Cora Carmack
Series: Stormheart
Publication: June 13, 2017

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.

The book's premise definitely intrigued me. Fighting storms? An heir who doesn't have the power to protect her people? An arranged marriage a way to solve the problems? Then the protagonist deciding "screw that" and finding her own way to protect her people? Uh, yes please!

The beginning itself depicted Aurora as a relatively naive girl. Basically, she was quite a mentally weak heroine, as she easily fell to Prince Cas' (her betrothed) manipulation to his feigned charms. A bit shaky of a character, yes. But, through a stroke of luck, Aurora realized the deception quickly, and from there her growth was obvious. I was particularly fond of her determination to find a way to protect her own people without her kingdom falling into ruin because of her lack of abilities or being forced to marry a neighbouring kingdom's prince as a means to secure their protection. So with a cleverly planned deception, she escapes with a band of storm hunters and changes her name to Roar.

Despite initial antagonist vibes, one of the most interesting characters by far is probably Cas himself. His motives are both clear, yet unclear: born in a vicious family, he was deemed the weaker of the two brothers and subject to some pretty bad emotional neglect, abuse, and humiliation as a means to compete with his brother. Cas is definitely scheming, but what is interesting is his very genuine concern for Aurora's wellbeing despite his manipulation. Which begs the question: is he just seeking love? Because it definitely feels that way, and if that's the case, then I can't help but be fascinated by him. Cas is easily the most complex character in the book, both in terms of morals and actions.

The concept of storm hunting and storm magic was quite interesting. There are different kinds of storms: the typical storms we're all familiar with, like blizzards, sandstorms, and twisters, but there's also skyfire storms (literal fire storms). What I found enjoyable was how we got to delve a bit into what exactly caused these storms, or rather the mystery behind them and how they are tied to magic. It wasn't fully explained, but that's to be given since that it's only the first book!

Locke, Jinx, Bait, Ransom and the crew I found to be a typical run-of-the-mill band. There is a clear relationship between them all, but it isn't really much explored or at the focus of the book. Locke and Aurora's budding relationship, however, is one that is bluntly obvious, though not to those two. I liked how after Cas pulled his stunt on Aurora, she was quick to guard her heart from being used by other men.

The action of actually hunting a storm didn't quite meet my expectations, both in a good and bad way. On one hand, I was expecting some kind of flashy battle with an ethereal force, which this book didn't have. On the other hand, battling a storm itself sounds more like a really hard and completely unglamorous task, which was exactly how the book portrayed it as. No noble battles in this; just pure guts, a lot of tactics in the midst of panic, in addition to uncontrolled fear and anxiety. Again, not exactly the glamorous or noble capture I was anticipating, but definitely more realistic than my imagination likes to make everything out to be. It wasn't as adventurous as I had hoped the story would be either, but that's okay.

I'm very interested to know how Roar turns the events around, and whether she'll be able to figure out a way to protect herself and her kingdom from not one but two malicious antagonists!

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