When I first realized that this gorgeous book was something I absolutely had to read, I had no idea that it was a duology. I guess I missed that part, but for whatever reason, I thought it was a standalone. After reading it, though, I’m so excited for the next book, and I’m actually bummed out that this is only a duology instead of a trilogy, because wow, I absolutely LOVED Shimmer and Burn. There’s magic, revenge, and an amazing main character who is absolutely kick-ass (she’s actually a fighter for money, so she does some real ass kicking). Shimmer and Burn has so many things that a lot of other fantasies lack, and I was drawn into this beautiful book from the very first page (okay, actually I was obsessed with it since seeing the cover, but you get the idea!).
Shimmer and Burn seemed like the perfect book to kick off my fall reading – probably because that cover reminded me so much of the outdoors in the early fall when the leaves just start to change color and the weather turns cooler (my absolute favorite time of the year).
“There are monsters in Avinea.”
While Faris grew up in the slums of the kingdom that she lives in, Brindaigel, she has been taking care of her little sister, Cadence, for most of their lives. After a horrible encounter with her mother when she was a small child, it has been just the two girls and their father for years, although he drowns his sorrows with drink after drink and does not spend much time or thought on the girls. So Faris does what she can working in the fields to try to help out her family, but at nights she steals time away with a boy she wants to marry – but is promised to someone else. As a a higher member in society than she, Faris knows things between them would never be permitted, but still she loves him, and she loves that the two of them share a desire to escape Brindaigel, scouring over maps that he brings to her.
After a failed attempt to escape the kingdom with him and her sister, Cadence is caught and turned into a slave, and the boy that Faris loves is killed.
In order to get her sister back, Faris must come up with a large sum of money, which she makes by fighting. Tough, angry, and determined, Faris forces herself to win every single match, until one day she is faced with something else: an ultimatum that she cannot turn down, because it is a promise to get her sister back even faster.
Faris is given the chance to essentially bind herself magically to Bryn, the daughter of Perrote, the king of Brindaigel. In fact, if she goes through with being magically bound to her until she completes a task that can completely overthrow her father and get her to the throne, Bryn has promised that she will free Faris’s sister and let her go free, without Faris making any other payments.
Tempted (and also kind of forced), Faris goes along with the plan, and soon she finds herself outside of the walls of the kingdom where she grew up – but also faced with things she has never known existed. Bad magic, poisonous magic, causing infected people to become reliant on it like a drug, runs rampant. When Faris and Bryn meet North and his apprentice, they convince him to help them get where they need to go so that Bryn can continue with her plan.
“‘Love is a weakness, and a weak heart breaks, a broken heart bleeds, and blood can be poisoned.'”
However, Faris starts to develop feelings for North – a boy she clearly cannot have, and is faced with a lot of obstacles along the way, such as being infected by dead magic and realizing that this might end up claiming her life.
Shimmer and Burn is one of the most beautifully written fantasies that I’ve ever read – the writing flows so wonderfully and the story is so full of magic and excitement. There was not a single dull moment within these pages. It was so easy to get drawn into everything that was going on, and to be completely honest, Shimmer and Burn casts its own spell over the reader, taking them into an enchanting world full of beauty – both good and bad.
Faris was such a great character – tough when she needed to be (which was always, considering her position), but also tender and full of love, which she displays toward her sister, Cadence. She is independent and goes after what she wants and needs, no matter what the cost may be, as displayed in the beginning of the book when she spends her nights fighting just to get enough money to rescue Cadence. This is the kind of beautiful devotion that really makes me love a character.
When North’s character is introduced, I honestly was expecting there to be an insta-love attraction going on with he and Faris, but there wasn’t one, and I was honestly pleasantly surprised. I can’t stand when amazing fantasies are ruined with insta-love, so if that isn’t your thing either, this book is a great read for you.
I am so excited for the second book in the duology, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. There were a few plot twists here and there that really got you on the edge of your seat, and since the book kind of ended without resolving anything, I feel like I might go crazy until the next book is released!
If you’re a fantasy lover, this is one you definitely do not want to miss.