Roar by Cora Carmack
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Roar started off slowly, but before long I was completely enamoured by the story. I personally love stories where elemental powers are part of the lore. Roar had a similar, yet unique take on those special abilities.
There are people in the world, called Stormlings, who are able to use their affinities to battle storms. In this land, those abilities relate to the storms that plague the kingdoms and towns. A Stormling may have an affinity for sky fire and be able to battle lightning – or they may have an affinity for tornados. Many battle storms not only to protect their lands but in the attempt to gain more affinities. If strong enough, a Stormling could take the heart of the storm (which manifests as a rock or gem) and use it to channel their abilities.
Aurora is the future Queen of Pavan, but she has yet to show any hint of the power needed to protect her people. As a result, her mother sets up an arranged marriage with the second born son of a neighboring kingdom. Not all is as it appears and Rora sets out to discover the truth. She soon learns that Stormlings are not the only people with the ability to fight storms and realizes that she must learn from these storm hunters so that she can avoid the path her life is currently on.
Aurora begins the book as a strong female character despite the fact that she is forced into a more meek, agreeable role in order to secure the marriage, so it may not seem that way. Although she has not been able to access the magic her blood should give her, she has not rested on her laurels. Rora occasionally trains with the guards in swordsmanship, reads whatever books she can get her hands on, is quite skilled in a number of languages and can chart her course by the stars. While she is not the typical heroine we might expect to save the day, she does grow over the course of the novel and will continue to do so in the second book.
As the majority of the book does not take place in the palace, we do not see much from the Locke family but I am incredibly intrigued by their familial relationships and the Prince himself. He is a dark, strong and imposing figure who is out to claim the throne – but may be less ruthless than he seems. While we do not such much of him, I expect there will be a lot more character development in the second book and I’m looking forward to that.
Locke, the storm hunter, was probably my favourite main character – although I loved the storm hunter crew as a whole. They had such unique personalities, tales and roles in the group and who wouldn’t join a group of storm hunters? That would be amazing. Anyway, Locke started to remind me after a while of that over-protective Fae male personality that we see so often in Sarah J Maas’ books (which can become tiresome) but his storm hunting prowess won me over. The author wrote each storm, its feeling and the hunters fighting it so brilliantly that those were definitely my favourite scenes in the novel.
This book seemed to set up the world, the magic system and the main characters well but leave plenty of room for development. We don’t even see the character who is likely to be the villain until about 75% of the book is over. I’m intrigued by the villain’s story and abilities, and can’t wait to see where it goes in the second book.
The world is what drew me in and kept me wanting more, despite the cliches, tropes, and mid-level character development. The romance itself was probably the most off-putting because it was so unbelievable to me. It’s not necessarily the chemistry and interactions between the two, but rather the way the author writes the male’s point of view. To me, it just didn’t sound like a guy was thinking those thoughts. Both of her main male characters became almost immediately obsessed with Aurora, wanted to protect her at any cost, thought about her all of the time, etc. As I mentioned before, that overprotective Fae male mentality. While it may seem sweet that they want to be protective, it borders on being too much (and sometimes crosses the line), which is not a healthy relationship dynamic to romanticize. I don’t want to give more specific examples and spoil anything. This is not to say that men cannot be emotional and effusive because they can, but for me, just the way that it was done didn’t read authentically. Those were the times I felt most drawn out of the narrative.
This book ends with the type of cliffhanger that most books should end on. You are not utterly destroyed and heartbroken that the author has ended this book with such big questions and yet the next is not due out for another year – you are completely in love with the story and the final scenes just make you excited to continue reading.
For me, the book was a little slow to start but once Rora goes on the journey with the storm hunters I think the book picks up a lot. I’ve seen a few people put the book down because they couldn’t get into it and I would just recommend trying to push through a little longer and see if that changes for you. This is an upper-YA novel that I would recommend to ya/teen readers who enjoy fantasy and character growth in their novels.
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