Cast in Firelight was impressive, adventurous and action packed debut YA fantasy romance with hate-to-lovers and arranged marriage trope along with hidden identity that made it even more interesting.
Cast in Firelight (Wickery #1) by Dana Swift
Publication Date : January 19th 2021
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Genre : Fantasy / YA
Pages : 448
Disclaimer : I received e-copy of this book from the PRH International via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Adraa is the royal heir of Belwar, a talented witch on the cusp of taking her royal ceremony test, and a girl who just wants to prove her worth to her people.
Jatin is the royal heir to Naupure, a competitive wizard who’s mastered all nine colors of magic, and a boy anxious to return home for the first time since he was a child.
Together, their arranged marriage will unite two of Wickery’s most powerful kingdoms. But after years of rivalry from afar, Adraa and Jatin only agree on one thing: their reunion will be anything but sweet.
Only, destiny has other plans and with the criminal underbelly of Belwar suddenly making a move for control, their paths cross…and neither realizes who the other is, adopting separate secret identities instead.
Between dodging deathly spells and keeping their true selves hidden, the pair must learn to put their trust in the other if either is to uncover the real threat. Now Wickery’s fate is in the hands of rivals..? Fiancées..? Partners..? Whatever they are, it’s complicated and bound for greatness or destruction.
The first book in an epic, heart-pounding fantasy duology about two royal heirs betrothed to be married, but whose loyalties are torn, and a ruthless enemy who threatens their world, perfect for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Susan Dennard, and Mary E. Pearson.
Cast in Firelight was impressive debut YA fantasy romance that revolved around two fiercely competitive heirs to be married getting entangled in web of love and dangerous plot. The story was about politics, magic, friendship, betrayal, lies, secrets, preconceptions, finding light among darkness, resilience, courage, and putting safety of country above all.
Writing was gripping, entertaining, adrenalin filled and fast paced. The story was written in first person narrative from Adraa and Jatin’s perspective.
Plot was action packed, adventurous and fun. It started with both Adraa and Jatin meeting when they were nine and their parents verbally finalising their engagement but the first meeting turned into one of them punching the other. Nine years later, Jatin returned from his academic magic studies. They spent these years in fierce competition exchanging letters of their achievements. There was no love as they both didn’t like each other. They formed a preconceived idea about each other. But when Adraa’s inventions, Firelight, was caught in conspiracy and illegal activity they both work together under false identity that brought them closer, learned to trust and know each other’s true self behind the hidden identity.
It was interesting to read how both Adraa and Jatin met as adult, why they didn’t like each other at first and how their preconception changed once they got to know each other, what was the conspiracy, what criminals wanted to do with Adraa’s firelight, who was behind the plan and how that will affect Adraa and Jatin’s countries and their growing relationship.
Both Adraa and Jatin were flawed and realistic. Their jealousy for each other that driven them to be competitive was genuine and perspicuous.
Adraa was fiery, fierce, reckless, brave, smart, courageous, and kind who loved her country, people and family. But she also was vulnerable. Her weakness was her low confidence. She constantly doubted her ability due to her untouched right arm. She saw it as deformity than focusing on her strength. And she was much more powerful than she thought. I loved how her partnership with Jatin made her believe in herself. At first, I didn’t exactly get why she would think she wouldn’t pass her royal ceremony and at the same time I could understand why she would want to keep her secret identity. When time came it all made sense and I loved it how she moved on, kept focus on what was necessary at the time and mended her relationships even when she found most of her idea or perception or thoughts were wrong.
Jatin was amazing. At first, I wasn’t sure I agreed with Adraa but as story progressed, I could see Jatin was a little arrogant and what he said in their first meeting at nine was wrong, but he changed a lot after that. He was exactly opposite of what Adraa thought. He was kind, clever, loyal, friendly and empathetic. He accepted his flaws, admitted his mistakes and tried to cross the bridge of misunderstanding under hidden identity. I also understood his relation with his father, responsibility and loneliness he felt because of his title.
Family dynamic and secondary characters were great. I enjoyed reading about both Jatin and Adraa’s family. Their relation with their family was well written. I liked Prisha -Adraa’s sister, Riya – Adraa’s personal guard, Kylan- Jatin’s personal guard, and Jatin’s and Adraa’s fathers. But most interesting and surprising was Adraa’s mother.
World was interesting. It wasn’t highly described as the plot and romance was more on focus than world. We are introduced to world gradually as story progressed with only necessary information. I generally prefer more world building but I think less/only necessary info worked well here. I enjoyed reading about- nine Gods and Goddesses of the world that provided their respective coloured magic to Wizards and Witches by ‘Touch’ that is mark on one or both arms. There were explicit details on what only on one arm mark (like Adraa had, which was rare) indicated, how only those blessed by all nine gods can rule the country, how the magical forte had divided other countries, societal difference and sectioned people into ‘touched’ and ‘untouched’, how Adraa’s country was different by accepting diverse people, technologies worked with magic, Adraa’s invention and how that could help all people specially poor or touched in her country.
Romance was best part. I enjoyed reading this hate-to-lovers and arranged marriage trope along with hidden identity. All amazing trope in one book was sure going to win over me. At first, both Adraa and Jatin felt childish, trying to be better than other, avoiding each other but I loved how fate or rather conspiracy brought them together against their wish, making them friends and partners that looked impossible at the beginning. I enjoyed reading their banters and many lovely moments. It was great to see how they both reacted when they found each other’s real identity.
Mystery was great. The web of conspiracy was complex, big, corrupt, and dangerous. It was not at all hidden after initial 30% who was behind it but I could never guess what was Adraa and Jatin’s next step and what villain ultimately planned with Firelights.
Climax was lovely with revelations of their true identity and also tense with royal ceremony. What happened after it was surprising and shocking. I worried for Adraa and Jatin. It kept me on the edge making me want to shake Adraa and think as I knew how she could stop it all and when she did it, I thought it will end there but then came another surprise. I wasn’t expecting any of that. It was perfect end and I hope author could speed up writing and publisher can release next book sooner.
Overall, Cast in Firelight was impressive, well written, action-packed, and adventurous YA fantasy romance.
I highly recommend this if you enjoy,
Hidden identity trope
arranged marriage trope
fiery and feisty main character
Interesting magical world with no info dump and only necessary info
Well written romance
Wizards and Witches
Additional thoughts : I saw some negative reviews as some readers didn’t like author mentioning in notes this wasn’t own voice book, author is white married to Indian, and written characters based on Indians for her future interracial kids but characters weren’t interracial in this book. I don’t think that should be of any concern. Characters’ culture and dressing was Indian style but that’s only Indian thing here. World wasn’t exactly Indian. It was totally fictional and so was salutation and magic system and legends/Gods and Goddesses. I don’t think author said anywhere in notes whole book was based on Indians and I don’t think just because characters were based on Indians, the world and salutations should be Indian style. They were acting according to fictional world and that looked totally fine in story. I feel it wrong to rate book 2 or 1 star just because white author wrote a book with characters from different culture.
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