Cover Image: The Hurricane Wars

The Hurricane Wars

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Member Reviews

I got an e-ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review.

The book set too high of a stakes when it could have been a plain low fantasy enemies-to-lovers romance. Nothing really stood for me in regards to writing, characters or the world.

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This was such a hard read. The fantasy is dense - you’re dropped into the middle of a war with absolutely zero background info. So many new names, places and magic systems.

I honestly skimmed from 25 percent on because I was invested in the romance but even that was pretty tortured and mega angsty.

The pacing was also very slow and difficult.

Overall, not one I’d recommend to anyone other than hardcore high fantasy fans

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Hurricane Wars was a strange read. This romantasy struggled to connect the romance and the over arching war. The two plot points did not blend well together and made the book a bit of a struggle to follow

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Ultimately this was simply not for me—while generally I like “published reylo” as a microgenre, I was unable to connect with either the characters or the plot to the point that posting a full review seems a little unfair

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First, thank you so much to Harper Voyager, NetGalley, and the author for my eARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I can’t figure out this book. 33% in and I still had almost no idea what was going on. The world is HUGE and there are so many people and places and things that you’re told about once and are supposed to just know what they are moving forward. I may very well be the problem, but I personally don’t like when books info dump like this.

I liked a few scenes in particular so I’m hoping to maybe try it again in the future; we’ll see.

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Thea Guanzon’s The Hurricane Wars Is a Whirlwind Fantasy Romance That Stands on Its Own

I keep thinking about something that Philippines-based author Thea Guanzon said in a recent interview with Paste Books: “Coming at it from the perspective of someone who lives in the Global South, fanfiction opened doors for me that I otherwise would not have had access to.” Her debut novel The Hurricane Wars may have started as a Star Wars fanfic, but its transformation into a Southeast Asian-inspired fantasy romance has a greater emotional resonance because of where it started. Like fierce heroine Talasyn, Guanzon can credit a mix of luck and her own drive with achieving a dream—here, a published novel—that had previously seemed impossible.

It feels unavoidable to acknowledge that The Hurricane Wars began as a fanfic in which Rey and Kylo Ren are forced into an arranged marriage uniting not only the Rebel Alliance and the Empire, but also the Hapes Cluster (inspired by the Star Wars Legends novel The Courtship of Princess Leia, in which Leia Organa was supposed to marry into Hapan society). One, because landscape with a blur of conquerors was a truly thrilling epic that made this skeptical reader actually root for those Force-crossed dummies. But also because Guanzon has done a superb job of taking the bones of that story and reworking it into its own original epic—most notably because of the deliberate and detailed weather-magic worldbuilding, though the slow-burn enemies-to-lovers romance mostly holds up under new names and contexts.

Talasyn is a young soldier on the frontlines of the Hurricane Wars, fighting for the Sardovian Allfold using her Lightweaver magic, which allows her to conjure any weapon she can imagine out of the aether. As the scrappy Sardovians stand up to the overwhelming might of the Night Empire of Kesath with their legionnaires and stormships, Talasyn frequently clashes with Alaric Ossinast, who can similarly transform shadows into swords.

A covert side mission to the Nenavar Dominion, an independent archipelago (modeled in part after the Philippines) delivers a stunning revelation to Talasyn: She is their lost princess, or Lachis’ka, presumed dead for the past eighteen years. The fiercely matriarchal society of Nenavar is led by the dragon queen-like Zahiya-lachis, Talasyn’s grandmother Urduja. With no other female heir, her return sparks a succession crisis that turns into a surprising alliance once the canny Urduja sees a way to secure more stability with the encroachment of Kesath upon their shores.

The plot does follow some trope-heavy shorthand: Orphan discovers she’s the heir to a lost throne; arranged marriage between enemies-to-lovers; light versus darkness. Yet these familiar story beats are set against a vibrant, hurricane-ravaged world with an engaging magic system and a variety of radically different climates and locales in which the political and romantic intrigue take place.

The action immediately pulls you in, though it does take the book (which already clocks in at nearly 500 pages) a while to get around to Talasyn discovering her true heritage. The fanfic gets there faster thanks to the dual context of the movies preceding it and the Star Wars Legends novel for those extra in-the-know; the point is to get Rey to Hapes as soon as possible for the delicious crossover. That said, Talasyn’s skirmishes on the ice floes of Frostplum set the stage for her political battles at court, while the Sardovian Allfold’s retreat puts them in a compellingly defensive position, where they must appeal to the Nenavar Dominion for shelter and aid, with Talasyn their unintentional bargaining chip.

At first the supporting cast from the Sardovian Allfold is introduced so rapidly that it’s difficult to keep track of who means what to Talasyn, aside from mapping the connections to Leia Organa, Finn, etcetera. That said, Guanzon’s worldbuilding is carefully considered, the use of weather a poignant metaphor for how destabilizing war is. After all, hurricanes in our world are formed by the clash of dualities: thunderstorms sucking ocean heat from tropical waters, generating destructive winds that don’t discriminate with whatever or whoever is in their path.

It’s also thematically fitting to this particular romance plot, with the emotionally destabilizing one-two punch of secret princess and arranged marriage. Going in eyes open as to the controversial ship that inspired these two, I have to say… dammit, Guanzon has done it again. Twice now she’s made me ship this particular iteration of Reylo, to the point where I didn’t even think of them as their Star Wars selves but as nearly fully-realized fantasy characters. While Talasyn spends so much of the novel reflecting on how she’s always felt like an island, she is stunned to discover that Alaric’s upbringing as the Night Emperor’s sole heir has similarly isolated him from friends and comrades (forget any potential lovers). And while she struggles to catch up on eighteen years of Nenavarene society with its elaborate gowns and complicated alliances, it’s a pleasant surprise to see just how unprepared he too is to be a royal consort. They’re both soldiers, best on the battlefield and flailing in more delicate situations.

Theirs is a literal grumpy/sunshine dynamic in terms of how their powers manifest, shadow versus light. Yet there’s also a fun subversion where Talasyn is the clear grump, letting her temper get the best of her far too often; and while Alaric would never be described as sunny, his measured calm is the surprising anchor to her emotional storms. And while Kesath has won the Hurricane Wars (at least, for now), the natural powers of their shared home planet operate under no master—as demonstrated by the building threat of a sevenfold lunar eclipse, which threatens to ignite the death-magic Void Sever and overtake the entire planet. Even more thrilling than pitting their respective powers against one another is the moments in which Talasyn and Alaric discover they alone can combine light and shadow into something entirely new… if they can cooperate long enough to save everyone they love.

For a slow burn, the latter half of the book does get awfully wrapped up in Talasyn and Alaric’s betrothal, with other non-romantic elements falling by the wayside. The Sardovians are so cunningly hidden that Talasyn barely interacts with them; her best friend Khaede is missing in action, but to an extent that she seems out of sight, out of mind, no doubt something to set up for the next book. Even honing the narrative scope to the Nenavarene court, there are missed opportunities to really delve into how foreign this world is to both of them, but especially Talasyn as the Lachis’ka and how to model herself after—or turn away from—the Zahiya-lachis.

Hopefully future books delve more into the absorbing court politics that Guanzon has seeded already. The Dominion’s self-imposed neutrality works wonderfully in this setting, as a keen reminder that when it comes to climate change and the swelling populations of climate refugees, no country can afford to isolate forever when they’re all located on the same planet.

But where The Hurricane Wars ends is with the promised wedding bells. Guanzon does an excellent job reminding us that, despite the way their passion sparks with their growing attraction, neither is actually happy to be wedded when they still both identify more with the hate side of the love/hate spectrum. Being joined in matrimony may wind up being more of a hindrance than a benefit to working together.

The Hurricane Wars is the first in an epic fantasy romance trilogy, with Guanzon adeptly setting up the remaining two books: By the time we get to their wedding night (which is a tease in and of itself), there are four eclipses left until the Void Sever erupts. It will be a longer wait for book two than for weekly or monthly chapters, but it promises to be worth it.

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This book was so hyped and I was really looking forward to it. I couldn’t get into it though. I realized shortly after that it’s supposed to be reformed Reylo fanfic and that’s not my jam. Needed a bit more work. I will say that the cover and artwork are gorgeous and definitely appeal to readers!

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I will say I had no idea this was Star Wars fan fiction going in. And I am NOT a Star Wars fan. I kept reading because I AM a romantasy fan and was hopeful.

This unfortunately missed the mark for me. The wordbuilding felt clunky and not well put together. Emotions were skimmed over. The dragons barely made an appearance.

I think if you like science fiction AND fantasy AND Star Wars, you’ll like this one.

EDIT

I tried again. And I enjoyed it. The first half is slooooow. But the second half is so gloriously good.

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Thank you NetGalley and Avon and Harper Voyager for the e-arc!
A book based on weather magic with an amazing romance? sign me up! While the story took me a little bit to get into by the end of the book, I was unbelievably immersed in the world and the characters. The world-building was fantastic; it felt detailed without being too overwhelming. I think the magic and the fantasy elements in the story were amazing. I saw some reviews comparing it to Star Wars and mentioning it was based on Reylo but I didn't really see big connections as I'm not really in the Star Wars.
I can definitely see why this book is unbelievably popular. I think it is a really strong fantasy world and I really enjoyed the banter between the two characters.

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Thea Guanzon crafts a rich world of war, romance, and politics. The writing is lush and transports you to a magical world that's heavily inspired by Southeast Asia. There's plenty of humor in the dialogue and a slow-burn romance.

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"The romantasy baby of RF Kuang and Sarah J. Maas"

I stopped reading after chapter 6 (16%). The prose is incredibly long-winded, resulting in a much slower pace than I'd expect. Three to four stars for the target audience. Be ready for vibes.

Thank you to NetGalley and Avon for the ARC.

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This one sadly was a struggle for me. I was so bored and confused for the first few chapters and then not invested at all in the rest of the story.

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Sadly this is a big nope from me. I really couldn't get past the writing. It was beyond too descriptive with sentences running on for a paragraph I think there was the bones of a good world in there though.

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I really enjoyed this book! I really like that this is real enemies to lovers. The banter and the inner monologue is fantastic from both characters! I was left wanting more and I really am excited for the next book! Alaric and Talasyn are layered characters and the magic system in this world was really cool! Very Star Wars esque but it makes sense as this was a Reylo fanfic and I’m not mad about it 😂 The slow burn is killing me though 😂

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I was super excited to get approved for this book on here, but honestly, I just felt a little bit underwhelmed by this one

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Thank you to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this ARC in advance.
I really wanted to love this book. I saw it on TikTok before it came out and it seemed like I would really enjoy it. However, I just couldn’t get into it. I had to DNF at a little over 50%. I felt like the pacing was off and the romance didn’t make sense to me. I needed the story to develop but it just felt like a disjointed action adventure. Not for me unfortunately!

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If you love enemies to lovers (similar to the bridge kingdom by, Danielle Jensen) I would highly recommend the hurricane wars by Thea Guanzon. The book has an intense start with maybe too much info dumping and world building. However it's saved by the great writing of its two main characters that carries the second half of the book. Highly recommend if your craving a romantasy.

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I have tried to get through this book for months. I am only 75 pages in but every time I pick it up I feel like I need to reread those 75 pages.

The book started out strong, I liked that it started in the middle of a battle and our MCs met on the field, him (Mr. evil) saving her (our heroine) for reasons that I assumed would come to light later in the book (I never made it far enough to find out).

However, after that climatic start, my journey reading this book went downhill swiftly. There was so much info dumping! Words, names, terms I still don't understand, just one after the other. It was too much for me personally and I just felt confused.

Maybe I will leave it for a bit and come back to it, but I wanted to get my intital thoughts out.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for access to the ARC in exchange for an honest review! I have to preface my review by saying that I desperately wanted to love this book. I truly believe that Guanzon is a masterful writer, and initially, I was captivated by her world-building. I struggled to understand why the FMC would be interested in the MMC, and what his redeeming qualities were. He murdered her friends and comrades, killed innocent bystanders, and wanted to colonize her people; I'm not sure how this character was redeemable in any way. Once I realized that the couple was based on Reylo, certain choices began to make sense. If this book is going to be based on fanfiction, it needs to be a "fix-it" fic and nothing was fixed in my opinion. Will I read other non-Reylo related work from Guanzon, yes, but I think I'm done with this series.

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Oh, how I wanted to love this book and have it truly become my "next fantasy obsession."

I'd give The Hurricane Wars a solid 3.5 stars. It was exciting and fresh at first - everything felt wholly original even though I knew it was full of popular tropes and was based on a Reylo fanfic. But then I almost DNFed the book because it got confusing, then boring, and then changed into an entirely different book.

The best parts:
- The magic system and world-building, even though they both need more work
- The inspiration and source material from a Filipina writer who wrote something unlike any fantasy I've read before
- Reylo-inspired

The not great parts:
- I love a grumpy FMC, but Talasyn was so immature that it was cringey
- I also love a dark and brooding MMC, but Alaric at times felt one-dimensional even as he was the most interesting character
- The magic system and world need to be built out more
- The romance was...meh. I'm fine with a slow burn, but literally nothing happened until the last couple of chapters. I wasn't looking for mind-blowing spice, but the one steamy scene was painfully awkward.

I am very intrigued to see where these characters and this series go next. It's honestly not bad for a debut novel, but I expected so much more with how much hype this book had - along with a stunning cover.

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