Cover Image: Incendiary

Incendiary

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Member Reviews

My expectations for this book were really high and I was gladly surprised that it surpassed them, and it's now one of the best fantasies I've read. The whole magic system is very original and how it drew inspiration from the Spanish Inquisition. The pacing was great and the plot kept me captivated and on edge the whole time. I can't wait to be able to read the sequel, this has became one of my favorite fantasy books of all time.
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I could not get into this book.  It may been that the Kindle version had typos or the cultural verbiage was hard to process.  But I am willing to try this again in an audio format as I still want to know what happens in the story.
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I enjoyed reading several aspects of this book! The pacing was wonderful, characters were well drawn, and the reading experience on the whole was delightful.
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Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova is an amazing and beautiful adventure! I would highly recommend it to young adult and fantasy readers. It is a rich and lush world with fantastic characters.
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One of Zoraida's best.  She crafts a world as believable as it is diverse. Perfect for fans of Star Wars and Fantasy!
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I liked some of the ideas and characters happening in this book, but the storytelling got in the way of the story for me.
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Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

The first book in an action-packed new YA fantasy series, Incendiary takes a dark and violent turn as it follows a powerful young rebel with a complicated past in a Latinx inspired world. Renata was stolen as a child, her magical abilities used as a weapon by the monarchy that has oppressed her people. Eventually she was rescued and now works alongside the rebels, but not everyone trusts her.

Incendiary is chock-full of political intrigue, violence, betrayal, and loss. Renata can be blind to things, but is determined in her course nonetheless. If you enjoy plot-driven stories, this is definitely a fun read that keeps things moving. If you are more like me and prefer character and world-driven stories, then you might wish for things to slow down a bit to allow for more character development, or might want more explanations for the very interesting magic system and the very complicated plot revelations. I think this is partly a matter of preference, but to me this felt like it was speeding from scene to scene with little time to breathe and a too-short conclusion with a plot twist I kind of saw coming.

On the other hand, I liked the world, the plot, the magic system, and some of the characters, even if the pacing didn't quite work for me. I love that the author created a world where side characters are casually queer with no concern for homophobia. It's an incredibly brutal world, but not based on sexual orientation. This also takes a sex-positive approach without being explicit. Early in the book Renata sleeps with the man she loves before a dangerous mission, and potions to prevent pregnancy are mentioned. Renata can steal memories, which is cool and is used a lot in the plot, although all the other people's memories and snippets of things she could recall were sometimes a little confusing. I'm also uncomfortable with a spoilery thing that a mom allows her child to believe.

In general, I think this is worth a read depending on your preferences! It was fun and I'm interested to see where the next book takes us as the plot continues to unfold. I received a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.

CW include death of a loved one, torture, violence, human experiments, murder, racism, attempted genocide, emotional and psychological child abuse
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Since the moment I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it. I've read one book by Zoraida before and enjoyed every part of it!

In this new book, Zoraida takes us to a new original YA Fantasy adventure full of mysticism and historical fiction elements. I loved the setting, the plot development. I think readers will feel identified with Renata as she learns about her abilities and joins the whispers!

Very captivating and page-turning novel, fully recommended to the YA audience.
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INCENDIARY is a fantastic start to Zoraida Córdova's latest series. Inspired by both the Spanish Inquisition (and, in my opinion, the reconquista), INCENDIARY encourages readers to confront intolerance, bigotry, and interrogate trauma that disproportionately affects certain groups. 
In Andalucia, the Moria are magic-wielders under siege by the crown, seeking to rid the land of all magic. Renata was taken from her parents as a young child to be used as a weapon against other Moria. Due to her magic as a Robari -one who can take memories- Ren has a complicated relationship to both the palace and the Whispers, the rebel group that freed her years ago. The rebels do not completely trust her because she is Robari; as a result, she feels ostracized for things out of her control.
When a mission goes wrong and Renata takes responsibility, she returns to the palace in order to salvage the Whispers' plans. In infiltrating the palace, Ren doesn't know who to trust and realizes that her own memories might be hiding some key truths. 
Overall, INCENDIARY was thrilling, with many twists and turns that will shock readers! Ren is a sympathetic and compelling protagonist who really shines on the page. Córdova also created a fantastic supporting cast of complicated characters and the political stakes always feel palpable. As a villain lover, main antagonist Prince Castian is deliciously cunning but also contains surprising depths. I found the first few chapters a bit slow and it took me a bit to understand the world, but once the novel gets into the main plot, it's a complete page turning. 
This is a book I would encourage my students to read when wanting to learn about al-Andalus and the politics that led to both the Inquisition and reconquista. I look forward to the sequel! 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Sometimes, we should really write reviews when we finish a book...not over a month later. However, I wanted to update and let you guys know that I really enjoyed this one! While there were many tropes that were included, it didn't take away from the story for me and instead, I enjoyed seeing Zoraida's take on some of them. I greatly enjoyed going on the journey with the main character and learning things as she learned them. I am definitely looking forward to the second one because...that ending! While I got a hint of it just prior, it still took me by surprise.
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I did not get the chance to finish this book prior to its publication date, but I am in LOVE with the worldbuilding and Renata! This book has a lot of the feminist fantasy elements that I loved in Furyborn, but it does a better job with the stakes, worldbuilding, and character arcs.
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Incendiary has an intricate magic system, vivid characters, twist and turns that will keep you at the edge of your sit and an ending that will leave you wanting more. Can you tell I loved this book? that’s because I really, really did.

Renata, the main character of Incendiary, is a fascinating character. She is not the strongest, the smartest or the most cunning, she is a normal girl that has to deal with a complicated past and with powerful abilities that make her be needed and feared and hated at the same time. The way she deals with her trauma and her guilty, and especially the way her self-recrimination affects her relationships with others and colors all her interactions feels completelly realistic. All the secondary characters are intriguing, especially since it’s hard to know which role are they playing in the large scheme of things. It truly feels like no one in this book can be trusted, which helps build the tension throughout the story.

As a background to these characters, there’s a kingdom and a culture inspired by the Spanish Inquisition, which gives this story a very rich and complex setting and history. In this kingdom, there are characters that are like judges and they are tasked with defending their belief system by eradicating anyone who threatens it. In this case, they believe that the Moria, which are the people with magic abilities in this world, are a threat and they have to be wiped out. The magic of the Moria is fascinating and unique with different types of powers, metals that make them more poweful and special stone that stores memories. It’s unusual to find magic systems that are intricate and interesting and at the same time manage to be easy to understand, but this book delivers just that.

One of the stronger aspects of this story is that it feels like like something bad is about to happen at any moment, Renata is living in the midst of enemies while trying to save her people and enact revange but there are so many secrets and interests at play that the whole book feels like mystery that Renata and the reader have to solve. This tension and sense of danger that build throughot the book are the testament of the excellent writing, which it’s fluid and captivating and it goes well with the fast pace of the story.

Finally, to top all of that off, this book is full of twists and turns and while they are really shocking, there are enough clues throughout the book that it doesn’t feel like the twists come out of nowhere. And the ending is full of truths and revelations that will leave wishing you had the second book in your hands right away.
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This book was a what I would call a slow burn. It took me a while to get into the book. I feel that was in part due to the structure of the plot. There was a bit of uneven pacing as you follow the main character's path of discovery.  Once I neared the end of book, it was almost impossible to stop reading. The way the reveals happen at the end make this a book worth reading. I can't wait to see what happens with Renata and the direction the author decides to take us in the sequel.
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DNF @40%. 

I’ve been trying to read this book for a week, and it’s just not good. I think the magic system is fascinating. The world building is compelling and has lots of potential. 

The main character Renata is whiny and just pines over her feelings regarding Dez; her commanding officer in their band of rebels. I feel like the author spends way too much time trying to carve out this relationship versus trying to orient the reader on the dire situation at hand where those who possess magic are persecuted.

This is the slowest of slow plots since it focuses on the characters (who don’t have enough depth to be interesting) rather than engaging us in full fledge war. 

It shouldn’t take me over a week to read a book that is less than 400 considering I can normally do that in a day if a book is engaging. 

Great cover. Disappointing story. Next. 

Thank you to Little Brown Young Readers and NetGalley for providing a review copy.
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Renata Convida is a Robari – she can steal memories out of someone’s mind. Renata is part of the Moria, a people capable of magic – most Moria have the ability to persuade or cast illusions, but Robari like Renata are rare. Even among her own people, Robari are viewed with suspicion – I mean, would you trust someone who could rip all your memories out of your brain, leaving you with a blank space where a memory should be?

The Moria used to be part of their own nation, but they were conquered by the Kingdom of Puerto Leones. Under the reign of King Fernando, there has been a massive effort to wipe out the Moria –very much like the way Spain wanted to get rid of the Jews and the Moors and basically anyone deemed not Catholic enough. Anyway, the Moria have been forced underground. The crown, however, hypocrites that they are, keeps a Hand of Moria (basically one Moria capable of each of the various abilities) under their control, using their so-called “unnatural” magic for their own ends. 

When she was a child, Renata was kidnapped and brought to the palace to serve as one of the Hand of Moria, as the crown’s pet Robari. She was kept under the protection of the head Inquisitor, Justice Mendez. When she was nine, the Whispers (Moria rebels) set fire to the capital and managed to rescue Ren, taking her away from the palace and turning her into a true Moria rebel.

Our story begins with Ren and her unit, led by Ren’s boyfriend Dez, discovering that the crown possesses a kind of weapon that can drain Moria of their magic. The Whispers must act in order to stop the mass use of this weapon against their people. Only Dez is captured and taken to the capital to be executed. Ren races to save him…only everything goes horribly, horribly wrong, and Ren herself is captured and taken to the palace dungeons. Bereft of hope, Ren plays the one card left to her: she demands to see Justice Mendez, and concocts a story about “escaping” from the Whispers, and desperately wanting to return to her position as the King’s pet Robari. Mendez, who has always had a soft spot for Ren, takes her back immediately. Inside the palace, Ren has a chance to find the weapon and take down the throne from the inside...so long as she isn’t caught.

And that’s only the start of the story!

Any more than that, and I start to wander into some serious spoiler territory. Anyway: it may start slow, but do not let that fool you: Incendiary is a roller coaster of twists, turns, action, magic, romance, rebellion, revenge – it’s all there. And just when you think you know what the story is going to be – wham! Twist! More action! Revelations! It’s fantastic. Once you get past the initial setup, Incendiary goes by way too fast. I’m having a hard time focusing on reading right now (thanks, COVID-19!) so it took me a while initially to get into the first third of the book. But once I did…I couldn’t put it down. I was ready to sacrifice precious sleep just to know what happened next. I’d finish a chapter and then force myself to put my Kindle down so I wouldn’t be up until 2 AM, my eyes glued to the page.

And, of course, once again I’m suckered into another series. And the end of Incendiary – gah. I kept pressing my “next page” button even though it wouldn’t go any further.

Goddamn, Zoraida. For that, you get the comfy chair.
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I absolutely LOVED this book. I could not put it down. There's some incredible world building and an interesting magic system. There's a great slow burn romance and intrigue and such a unique world. I truly enjoyed every minute and I rushed to pre-order. I will eagerly away the sequel.
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What I Liked:
Renata – I really enjoyed how unconventional a lead character Renata was. She isn’t the strongest, she isn’t the leader, and she isn’t even the bravest. Renata’s existence is a constant point of contention. The Whispers may have claimed her, but there is a lot of distrust, even amongst those closest to her. They have never forgotten the time she spent in the company of one of their greatest enemies, the Justice Méndez. For most of her life, Renata’s been used by others and never truly accepted. This is one of the reasons she is so drawn to characters like Dez, who believe in her when much of the time she doesn’t believe in herself.  Her wounds are often openly displayed, even when she wants to hide, she simply can’t. Renata’s magic has never been neat and she’s never been confident in her abilities. She learned early that her magic was dangerous and hasn’t had very many people tell her otherwise. She’s constantly been told who she is and has never been allowed to choose who she wants to be. I loved the beginning of her journey to discovering the answer.

World-Building – Córdova’s world is loosely based on the Spanish Inquisition. King Fernando is determined to rid his kingdom of the Moria, a people born with what he deems as unnaturally magic abilities. He and his predecessors have all but driven the Moria out of the land. Not only that, but they are determined to wiped out every trace of their cultural and religion. The Moria have done their best to maintain their ways, but they are slowly dwindling in number.

Magical System – The Moria are gifted with different magical abilties. Some are able to create illusions, while others are able to manipulate emotions. Renata is one of very few Robári, whose magic is tied to memory. As a child, she was manipulated into working with Justice Mendez, the right hand of the king, draining prisoners of their memories and turning them into Hollows.

Unpredictability – One of the things I really enjoyed about this novel is how multilayered so many of characters were which made the story incredibly unpredictable at times. Renata struggles to find who she is, especially when so many of her memories are distorted. This makes her point of view somewhat unreliable. She very much wants to believe certain people are just evil, but learns that isn’t always the case. Many of her preconceived ideas about people are proven false or incomplete and I am really looking forward to seeing where the story goes after some shocking revelations.

What I Didn't Like:
Pacing – The novel sometimes felt uneven. The first third of the novel could have been its own separate novel because of how much happened. Things then come to an abrupt halt and I spent so much time wishing the story could capture the excitement of the beginning portion. But then suddenly we are thrust into the latter part of the novel, going full speed and ironically, this is where I wanted things to slow down. Particularly because there is a lot of buildup to meeting a certain character who I wish we could have spent more time with.

Final Verdict: With surprises at every turn, Zoraida Córdova’s Incendiary is a great introductory novel to a new fantasy series that will sweep readers away and whose ending will leave you begging for more.
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Incendiary is the first installment in author Zoraida Córdova's Hollow Crown series. Set in a lushly drawn world inspired by Inquisition Spain, (Kingdom of Puerto Leones) Zoraida Córdova's anticipated new fantasy is an epic tale of love and revenge. Protagonist Renata Convida has spent a lifetime dealing with her gift - or curse, depending on who you ask. As a member of a dying, oppressed people - the Moria - Ren has the rarest gift of all: the ability to read and steal memories aka Robari. 

Ren unknowingly helped the Andalucia crown hunt and exterminate possibly thousands of her fellow Moria...and she has spent the past eight years struggling to make amends after joining the Whispers, the last rebels standing against the crown's cruelty. For 8 years, Ren has tried to prove herself to the Moria with little movement in accepting her completely. Some of her own teammates (Sayida, Margo, Esteban) would gladly kill her rather than trust her. Yet when Ren commits a mistake that costs her the boy she loves, she must return to the palace and take his place, else the resistance fail entirely. Political intrigue and murderous intent abound as Ren struggles to find her allegiance and who she is. 

Renata simmers with barely-restrained fury at the prospect of a weapon created by the king that steals magic from its users. Hell-bent on seeking revenge for all the years she was forced to use her magic to extract people’s memories as a servant of the King’s Justice, Renata infiltrates the palace in order to destroy their plan from the inside out. But while living in the palace, old memories resurface, including who really saved her on the night the rebels tried to overthrow the King, and Renata may be forced into using her magic to become the monster that others always viewed her as. 

Ren might hold the memories of hundreds of others, but she has lost so many of her own hidden within the Grey that blocks her from her past. Her remembering is the story. She has never been trusted, never been truly safe. Both her usefulness a weapon and as an inescapable danger to others shapes their every interaction with her. Leo gives the story a bit more balance as he hold some interesting secrets which may or may not align with Ren's own past and what happened to her 8 years ago. 

In this world, other Moria are called Illusionari, Persuari, and Venturi aka lie detectors. *Note* some sources say this is the first book in the Hollow Crown series, some say it's the Incendiary series. Incendiary really is about a girl returning to her past and facing some hard truths, while trying to figure out her place in a world that has rejected her. There is some romance involved in the story between Ren and Dez, and likely Dez and Prince Leo. We shall see how that works out now that turbulence has made Ren choose a path which will lead to a conflict with her former allies, and quite possibly, King Fernando.
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So good! So much suspense! Loved the characters and the world building. Absolutely highly recommend!
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This was such a fun, fast paced fantastical re-imagining of 15th century Spain. The magic system is interesting, with some people being born with an ability to read minds, create illusions, persuade anyone, or steal memories. I really liked seeing how people with magic are oppressed and driven out of their home countries, especially the memory stealers like Renata. That, and the discussions of colonialism made the societies here mirror our own so well. 

I did wish we had gotten some more character development throughout the story. We got to know Renata pretty well, as well as Leo, but most of the other characters felt pretty two dimensional-I especially wish we had gotten more of Castian and the Moria rebels. I loved what we saw of those characters, but we didn't get nearly enough of them! 

I'm so intrigued to see what happens in the second part of this duology!
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