Cover Image: Waking Fire

Waking Fire

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This book is a YA fantasy but to me it read more like middle grade. The main character and all her friends are called "children" by everyone, including themselves. The villainess is rounding up children and kidnapping them and they are told to "hide with the other children." When the arm themselves and fight, the adults in the story are surprised because they're "just children." I think if I had been aware I would have been a little better prepared for the tone of the story, which feels strangely lighthearted even as zombies are attacking and people are getting killed left and right. Nobody really seems to be very affected by the tragedies occurring, they just keep making jokes and getting on with their lives. The juvenile characters made the romances just a little weird to me. But I'm not the target audience for this age group, so I'll just move on...

I expected more worldbuilding and magic, since this book is a fantasy. But the entire book took place in one village. I realized around the midway mark that we were never going to actually get out of this tiny town and see the world, at least not in this volume. I did find that disappointing, because the synopsis and cover art promised adventure and that's not what I feel like I got.

I would say, though, if you're struggling through, the ending makes it worth it, if that helps. There were a lot of plot twists I never saw coming and they were gooood. It's just that the middle of the book suffered from not really having anything to do, since all the characters were under siege by the villainess and couldn't leave their village.

I don't believe I (a 40-something adult) would read the second book of the duology. I don't really feel compelled to find out how the story ends because the first book wrapped up pretty nicely with handling the villainess and the next book will be about a different villain. Even though the characters will be traveling outside of town at last, I feel satisfied with the story as it is and don't need to see more. I would recommend this for elementary/middle school-age children. I feel like high school teens would be bored.

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Fiery desert set fantasy. Naira lives with her twin brother, Nez, in the peaceful city of Lagusa. They know that the Sothpike, a cruel warlord, has taken over most of the country, but their city has always been safe, protected by the miles of harsh desert that separate it from the rest of the country. Until now... A woman, known only as Mistress, appears, leading a horde of terrifying zombie-like monsters, Dambi, into the city. Hotheaded Naira is determined fight. Alongside her brother, and a cute refugee named Kal, Naira joins up with the resistance. What has finally brought the Mistress to their gates? And will Naira and her loved ones make it out alive? Pick up Waking Fire to find out.

This was a very enjoyable read. I loved the worldbuilding, and the dragon lore. It's obviously the first book in a series, so there's a lot of set up, but there's also tons of action. (Zombie fights!!) I can't wait to learn more in future installments. Naira definitely has a fiery nature, but luckily her brother is there to help mellow her out. They have a very sweet sibling relationship. Great relationships between the whole family honestly. The romance with Kal was cute. It is insta-lovey, but feels true to a teen experience. I will be eagerly awaiting the sequel.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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I really wanted to love this novel because I thought the premise sounded interesting. However, I could not really connect with the characters. The story was very slow and seemed drawn out. I also did not understand the world-building. The romance in the novel did not appeal to me. Thus, this has a great storyline but was not executed well. Still, I recommend this for fans of fantasy!

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Neira and her twin brother, Nezra, have lived all their lives in Lagusa, an isolated village across the desert from anywhere - especially from the war for the throne being waged by Sothpike, a usurper to the throne determined to prove his claim, using any force necessary to do so.

The novel begins with a prologue written in a somewhat archaic and difficult to read format, but don’t let that stop you - once past the prologue, the text changes noticeably, and becomes much more readable. The war that their family has avoided by fleeing to Lagusa is coming at last, with Sothpike following a force of Drimba, a form of zombie, under the control of the Mistress, his devoted servant. The Mistress is seeking someone for Sothpike, and is willing to kill the entire population of the village to find the right person. This begins Lagusa’s involvement in the war. This novel is quick-paced, and has some interesting twists. It is stand-alone novel, but leaves an opening at the end for a sequel, one which I hope to read in the not-too-distant future. Recommended for middle school to adult.

I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me access to the free advanced digital copy of this book.

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I have decided to DNF this book at 40% - I am this far in and I still have no idea what's going on. What I thought this book was going to be about isn't. Then with the prologue I thought something else... and it still is not. So now I have no idea what this book is about and being almost halfway through with still no idea what's happening and not caring any bit about the characters. I believe it is time to move on.

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This is a YA epic fantasy novel. It follows Naira and her twin brother Nez. Naira has grown up in Lagusa. A village believed to be a myth. It’s a safe haven from Sothpike and his undead army of Dambi. However, that all changes when one of Sothpike’s mistresses shows up looking for a child that has been hidden there. Naira wants to fight and has the skill to do so but everyone around her wants her to hide.

Naira is a strong female character who shows that you can cry, be scared, ask for help and still be a total badass. Nez and Naira have a great sibling relationship and support each other even when disagreeing. I’m looking forward to seeing where the author takes these characters in the next book.

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Title: Waking Fire
Author: Jean Louise
Release Date: January 10th, 2023
Page Count: 337
Format: Netgalley
Start Date: December 31st, 2022
Finish Date: January 8th, 2023

Rating: 4 Stars


I didn't get into this right away. There were times I was actually contemplating setting it aside and trying it again later. I kept pushing through. I'm glad I did. It wound up being a really interesting read once I got familiar with the story and the characters in it. There were still things that baffled me, but that's nothing that a reread won't help. I got this in audiobook. It might make a wonderful traveling read later on this year. I do love the cover. It is very attention grabbing. It makes me wonder what she's heading toward and why she's holding weapons. I definitely recommend this book. It's well worth the read.

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"I will defeat him -not for honor, not for riches, not for glory. For what is right."

Naira and Nez are seventeen year old twins that live in the "lost city" of Lagusa, a city across the desert that everyone outside the wall seems to have forgotten about. They live peacefully with their Omma and Obba until one day a group of refugees comes to the wall being hunted by an army of the undead. This army is led by a woman known as the mistress, a woman who Naira had a chance encounter of meeting before during a horrible bully episode gone wrong. This army sends Nez and Naira's life into upheaval.

I really enjoyed the dynamic of the twins throughout the story. I think Nez' lackadaisical/joking attitude balances well with Naira's need to fight/hot headedness. I also enjoyed the extra characters of Rima and Kal. I do wish we had gotten more build up between the romances and actually showing them talking and interacting more before they suddenly liked each other. However, I do feel it is somewhat realistic to fall that quickly when you ARE seventeen. Especially when it is the first person to catch your eye.

I felt the story was a bit slow in the beginning, I kept waiting for *more* to happen. It just felt like a lot of waiting around and one of our main characters being hurt in some way. I also felt the first twist to be somewhat obvious. HOWEVER, when the story started to get action packed I was fully invested and I did not see the other two twists coming at all. Therefore, I am excited to read the next books in the series.

Overall, I think this has some good potential to be a new well-known fantasy series. It brings some new elements to the table which I find quite fun. I would recommend this to people who are fans of An Ember in the Ashes, When Night Breaks, and Children of Blood and Bone.

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I liked how action packed this was as well as some great twists that I could not have predicted. I am also a sucker for zombie books and this had a great version of the walking dead who are raised by a God as mindless super soldier creatures which was an interesting take that I am here for.

I will say that the focus on romance was a little too intense for me. Half the story was the battle and the other half was the main character and her brother finding love- loves that by the way don't end with HEA (at least in this book). The love was basically instant, the book takes place over a pretty short time and they are so heartbroken that everything is not roses and sunshine.

Oh did I mention this is the first book in a series so there is no real conclusion but at least there is no cliffhanger but a good transition to what will come next. I do think the world building was a little lacking as well, with a brief info dump at the beginning of the numerous gods but with a lot left unsaid and confusing. I do hope that the next book will explain more about the world as well as the religious beliefs and the war.

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Thank you so much for allowing me to read and review your titles. I really enjoy the opportunity!

I do appreciate it and continue to review books that I get the chance to read.
Thanks again!

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I really enjoyed the setting of this book, a desert landscape and an isolated city that most of the world doesn't know about pretty cool! The worldbuilding is great, with a lot of backstory about rulers, dragons, and magic. Louise definitely set up an interesting premise here.

There's almost non-stop action throughout this, with plenty of battles against zombie-creatures and their cruel mistress who is kidnapping all the children of the city. The main character Naira is a trained fighter and it was fun seeing her take down her enemies and work with her brother and friends to take back her city.

I thought this struggled a bit with character development. There was so much going on that we didn't stop to really get to know Naira and the romance was barely anything. Maybe the sequel will focus more on the characters now that everything is established?

I voluntarily read and reviewed this book. All opinions are my own. Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for the copy.

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I was so excited for a desert fantasy. While it is definitely not the poorest YA book written, the instalove and little world building just did not do it for me. This had the potential to do some amazing things but was just not fleshed out the way it needed to be.

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Thank you, NetGalley, for this book.

I love a good YA high fantasy book, but I am very particular about them. They absolutely must have depth. Books like The Fifth Season trilogy, Shadow and Bone books, and the Bones to the Wind duology fit that bill. They all have well-thought-out plots, characters with depth and intelligence, and excellent world-building. Unfortunately, Waking Fire has none of those.

From Goodreads: Naira Khoum has only known life in Lagusa, a quiet village at the desert’s end. But to the rest of the world, Lagusa is a myth, its location shrouded in secrecy. While war rages to the north led by power-hungry Sothpike and his army of undead monsters called Dambi, Naira’s people live in peace.

Until the impossible happens—Lagusa is attacked by a Mistress sent to do Sothpike’s bidding with a hoard of Dambi under her control. The Mistress is looking for something, and she’s willing to let her Dambi destroy Lagusa to get it.

Desperate to protect her home, Naira convinces her twin brother Nez and handsome refugee Kal to join the newly formed resistance with her. Together, they’ll have to figure out what the Mistress wants—before there’s nothing left of Lagusa to save.

As much as I like Naira, she never really learned anything or changed. All the characters were static and one-dimensional. Even though this is a YA book, they were often more juvenile than necessary. The plot had potential, but it lacked any depth. The book starts with a bang but bizarrely abandons the first few scenes and hardly touches upon them in the book ever again. I gave this three stars, which was generous. I didn't dislike it, but I also don't want to read the sequel.

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That Prologue was freaking amazing so I don't have any clue what happened after that ended. The rest of the book was a slog and just ugh. The romance was trash and the plot just didn't work for me at all. I don't even know what this author is going to do with the next book since this is a series. But man I would have loved if the prologue would have been the book because it was so good.

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Starting with the best: I enjoyed the tone of the world within Waking fire, the characters very much and their sense of self and devotion.

However, not all of it was to my tastes; the dragon lore/religion sometimes got confusing, and I thought about skimming and ignoring the mentions because sometimes it felt unnecessary. The pacing could have been better, and it could have been more exciting.
This is in no way a bad thing, but at times, I felt a middle-grade tone in this book that maybe should have been used instead. The writing of characters suits that genre better, as someone who loves MG too - some things would be edited, of course.

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Waking Fire has so many things I love: themes of found family, a chosen one main character, twins, dragons, and a desert setting! I honestly loved it even more than I thought I would - and I knew I'd love it thanks to the inclusion of dragons. I loved the worldbuilding, and I thought the story was really well paced. The action picks up right away and carried me through the whole book in a single sitting. Plus, the writing was excellent, which is always a bonus. I can't wait for the sequel!

Thank you to Inkyard Press and Netgalley for granting me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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2.5 I really wanted to like this more than I did. It was a struggle to finish it. I had a hard time grasping why Naira a 16 year old felt like she was responsible for protecting the town and killing the mistress. I listened to the audiobook and I don’t know if I just read the physical copy I could have found the drive to finish it.

I wish there was more world building. The prologue kinda threw me for a loop and I didn’t free like it had much to do with the story. The awkward attempted romance didn’t had anything for me and it all just fell flat.

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I enjoyed this novel much more than I had expected too, and I can’t wait for the sequel.

The story, the characters and the very core of the novel were all so captivating, and I read it in only a few sittings. The cover first drew me in, but the story really sold me. Watching Naira and her brother go from living a peaceful life to suddenly having to fight armies and their own values was fascinating. I loved the world, and I knew how to wield a sword, I would definitely visit.

I can’t wait to see what happens in the next novel, and I know that I’m going to love anything else that the author publishes.

Thank you to NetGalley, Inkyard Press and the author for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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I adore the world building and fantasy feeling in Waking Fire. From the beginning, there's lore and information which makes the world feel expansive. You get this idea that you've been transplanted into a world of magic and dragons. And the world just keeps growing. Waking Fire is a series starter which will make you pre-order the sequel right now. The last ten to twenty percent increases the pacing. You feel like the dominoes have finally started to fall and the world will never be the same.

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