Friday, February 26, 2016

Burning Glass (Burning Glass, #1) by Kathryn Purdie

Title: Burning Glass
Classification: Young Adult Fiction
Genre: High Fantasy
Series: Burning Glass (Book 1)
Format: Hardcover; 512 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (March 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0062412361
ISBN-13: 978-0062412362
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an ARC from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Two brothers raised apart.
One declared dead to ensure his survival. 
One raised believing he would rule the kingdom.
One yearns for power.
One strives for peace.
Only one can be emperor.
One girl has the power to change everything...

Sonya Petrova is the emperor's new Auraseer. She is the first line of defense against those who seek to hurt or kill the emperor. Auraseers can see people's auras and sense their emotions to the point that if they aren't properly trained they can't distinguish other people's feelings and desires from their own. Auraseers are usually trained from birth at the Auraseer convent, but Sonya's isn't like other Auraseers. Her parents put her into hiding and she wasn't discovered until eight months ago. She isn't properly trained. She doesn't want the position and power thrust upon her. By all rights she shouldn't be the emperor's Auraseer, but fate had other plans as a terrible fire took the lives of all the Auraseers who stood between Sonya and the position of emperor's Auraseer.

One girl will be able to tip the balance of power. 
Who will gain her loyalty? 
Who will she betray?  
Dare she trust herself to make such a decision? 

“Do you never take responsibility for your own emotions?” he asked.
“They far too often belong to someone else.”
This novel grabbed my attention from the very start and never let go. The beginning reminded me a touch of Maria V. Snyder's book 'Poison Study' and Robin LaFevers'  'Grave Mercy' although the two books are very different from this one. The world building was well done and I was able to create a clear picture in my mind of the kingdom. I am hoping in one of the next books we'll learn more about the fiefdoms surrounding Riaznin. I also wonder if any other supernatural powers exist in this world. I feel we've only scratched the surface as we've only seen a tiny sliver of it.

Sonya is a character that needs to find herself. She's never really fit in or belonged anywhere, and she is finally coming into her power. While we know from the beginning she is different from other Auraseers, we don't know the full extent of what she is capable of until late into the novel. I can't help but wonder if there is something more to the story of why her parents decided to hide her from the convent. Did they know she would be different? Is there something in her background that made her so?  I also wonder where these powers come from. No history, at least not yet, is given as to how or why children inherit the Auraseer abilities. From what we're told, it sounded rather unpredictable and random.

The two brothers. Valko, the emperor, and Anton appear to be as different as night and day. Valko's attentions toward Sonya disturbed me. He is a dark character carried away by his own power. Anton seems to love his brother and appears to have a good heart, but is conflicted about his brother's rule. He tries to help Sonya adjust to court life and ease her maneuvering of it and his brother, but I have to wonder...what if???? Throughout the book we see quotes like:
“Do you never take responsibility for your own emotions?” he asked.
“They far too often belong to someone else.”
~ and ~
“I'm not a mirror.”
Could all the seemingly random events that led to Sonya's rise to Sovereign Auraseer be due to some huge plan that has yet to be revealed? Could she have been an unwilling pawn in someone's (most likely Anton's) personal game of thrones that has yet gone undetected? Let's face it, she was knocked unconscious during the fire. The fact that she emerged from it seemingly unscathed despite being at the center of the flaming inferno was never really explained and leads me to two possibilities--either she has a power that hasn't been identified or someone may have manipulated things. Add in that we know she can easily be manipulated and has no loyalty to the Emperor after doing her best to avoid his service and she has the makings of someone who could easily be taken advantage of. Plus, would she notice someone else hijacking her emotions or gifts? Yes, I am probably over thinking things as as I didn't immediately have these thoughts upon finishing the book, but wouldn't it make for an interesting twist if by chance that is the author's plan? Even if that is not the case, there were plenty of other smaller storylines that I'm looking forward to finding out how the author will handle.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses.  It contained plenty of twists, turns, and surprises. This is one of those series where I feel the first book was extremely interesting and hints that the series will be something special, but the second book will be the one that makes or breaks it. I'm crossing my fingers that the author can pull off something special. Meanwhile, I'll have to patiently wait and see.

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