{Review/Giveaway} CAST IN FIRELIGHT by Dana Swift

Happy Book Day to...


O P E N I N G   H O O K:


   The door was made of ice -- glowing blue, crystalized ice. And behind that door was my..I guess I should say destiny, even though it sounded absurd. Meeting a boy who might be my husband one day should not qualify as destiny.

   Yet here I stood with my parents in a gaping black mouth of an entryway, with columns that jutted out like fangs to a blue-stoned palace so massive I had to turn my head side to side to take it all in. The last beams of dusk caught the glassy surface and danced. I glanced at my parents, both of them unconcerned. I guess we weren't going to talk about how strange it was to make a door using only white magic. Had that been in their lectures? And, Adraa, don't mention the creepy door situation. 

   My father lifted a fist to knock and I lurched forward, tugging his arm down. But it was my mother's words that stilled us both. "Maybe...maybe we should wait." 

   Snow flurries whirled. The winter wind howled. Then father gave us both the look. "We've been talk about this for years, Ira." 

   I hadn't been involved in these annual discussions, obviously. I was eight. My parents had been considering my arranged marriage since forever...
(Pages 1-2, US hardcover edition)

The first thing that caught my eye about CAST IN FIRELIGHT was the cover reveal. I recognized popular fandom artist Charlie Bowater's art immediately. She is especially well-known for her Sarah J. Maas fanart, and has recently been tapped by the industry to create several YA fantasy book covers, including this one. Then, I read the summary, and it sounded awesome. I started to hear chatter about how good the book was, and was really excited to be chosen for a tour stop today, on the book's official release -- so you'll be able to pick up a copy right after reading my review if this sounds like your kind of book! ^.~

Two of my favorite tropes are hate-to-love and mistaken identity, and CAST IN FIRELIGHT has both! Adraa and Jatin have known from a young age that their parents planned for their eldest heirs to marry and unite Belwar and Naupure. They met once when they were young, then corresponded over the years through competitive letters trying to one up one another. Neither is looking forward to the marriage. Now, as Jatin returns home from boarding school to pick up his duties at home and Adraa approaches her eighteenth birthday, their futures loom before them, and neither is ready to meet the other or accept the betrothal forced upon them.

In a twist of events, they both meet one another in disguise. Jatin's bodyguard Kalyan is impersonating him on the journey home, and Adraa is as muddy as a commoner. When they meet again, Jatin introduces himself as Kalyan and Adraa assumes her secret identity as Jaya Smoke. While disguised, they can let their true selves shine through as they become partners to take down a dangerous crime ring, but what happens when you fall for someone you think you're never allowed to have a future with?

The romance isn't the centerpiece of CAST IN FIRELIGHT, but it is threaded throughout and adds great tension to the story. There was a lot of great magic at play, too. There are nine types of magic, and most people are only touched by a few of them. One those destined to rule are blessed by all nine. One ability is always more predominant than the others, and for Adraa, it is fire. She is a Red Forte, blessed by Erif. She is also brilliant not just at using the spells she has learned, but creating her own. She invents firelight, an innovative lighting system that has eradicated the need for candlelight. When she finds out that dangerous underground criminals are stealing the firelight she had intended to help her country and using it for nefarious means, she vows to unearth what is going on. I liked seeing the different ways magic worked in this world and how it played out in every day life. I would have loved to see more of the scope of all nine magics, but we got a few that were explored more fully than just the two Adraa and Jatin favored most, which was also nice, because some books will just bypass all else in favor of the two. I would love to see a bit of an expansion in next year's sequel as the stakes have become so much higher by the book's end.

I also enjoyed the burn of the romance. I had my moments with it, of course: About halfway through the novel, Jatin figures out Adraa's identity and doesn't reveal his own. He's then free to embrace the fact that he is falling for his betrothed and doesn't have to feel bad that he is emotionally cheating, etc. But he never tells Adraa the truth. So Adraa gets to have those messy, complicated feelings where she feels like she is falling for somebody she can never be with, etc. It works for where the story needs to go and the final revelation thankfully isn't some emotional, drawn-out drama of the style I tend to dislike in books and they have a mature, real conversation about it, etc. But it is a warning for those who don't like books with this deception. I'm excited for a full-on sequel where they know the truth about one another and can fully fall in love for real. I loved seeing the moments here as well, especially the depth with which Jatin's fall is revealed over time, and adored seeing them finally overcome the odds and be together, albeit briefly. Unlike in other books where the romance has no chemistry, this feels real and enduring and in a late scene in the book, you can feel the depth of the emotions and how true they run. 

It is hard to discuss certain aspects of the book without major spoilers -- even my favorite quotes, which you normally find in my reviews, are too spoilery to share! There is some major stuff that happens late-game and really propels the reader and makes it hard to stop changing pages. The stakes are enormous, and I can't wait to see the fall out next year. I'm also so thankful that this is a duology and not a trilogy, so I won't have to wait forever to get to the ending!

Another fun aspect of the book was the way every chapter had its own title, which I haven't seen a book do in a long time. Some of them are hilarious. For the above hook of the prologue, I even included the chapter heading because I mean, doesn't it just hook you right away? "I Meet the Love of My Life and Slap Him in the Face." I was ready to dive right in!

CAST IN FIRELIGHT was a entertaining debut fantasy that I read in a day and had great chemistry and high stakes that I'm already ready to get back to, so if you like your fantasy this way as well, definitely check out today's new release!



Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( Kissing )
Language: PG13 ( Bastard, bitch, damn,"blood" as a curse. There is some sexual innuendo about sex and "sleeping together" and the possibility of someone being a mistress, but nothing obvious or graphic. One cage fighter has sexually harrassed the MC in the past and she reflects on his unwanted advances after a derogatory sexual comment he makes. )
Violence: PG ( Cage fighting, characters hear the thuds from a torture spell cast on someone out of sight )
Other: PG ( Bloodlurst drugs are on the market and being investigated; there is one scene where the MC is covered in goat blood and intestines while getting ingredients for a medicine. )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

It's Charlie Bowater! In this book's case, the cover is, of course, what first caught my eye! I am a huge fan of her artwork.

I think I still would have been intrigued. I like the whorls of red fire and white smoke, which are so important to the book, and the way they merge together. The characters are also posed in action and catch my eye!

O F F I C I A    I N F O:

Author: Dana Swift
Release Date: January 19, 2021
Publisher: Delacorte Press / Penguin Random House
FIND IT: GoodreadsAmazonB&NBook DepositoryIndigoIndieBoundBookshop.org

The first book in an epic, heart-pounding fantasy duology about two royal heirs betrothed to be married, but whose loyalties are torn, and a ruthless enemy who threatens their world, perfect for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Hafsah Faizal, and Renée Ahdieh.

Adraa is the royal heir of Belwar, a talented witch on the cusp of taking her royal ceremony test, and a girl who just wants to prove her worth to her people.

Jatin is the royal heir to Naupure, a competitive wizard who's mastered all nine colors of magic, and a boy anxious to return home for the first time since he was a child.

Together, their arranged marriage will unite two of Wickery's most powerful kingdoms. But after years of rivalry from afar, Adraa and Jatin only agree on one thing: their reunion will be anything but sweet. Only, destiny has other plans and with the criminal underbelly of Belwar suddenly making a move for control, their paths cross...and neither realizes who the other is, adopting separate secret identities instead.

Between dodging deathly spells and keeping their true selves hidden, the pair must learn to put their trust in the other if either is to uncover the real threat. Now Wickery's fate is in the hands of rivals..? Fiancées..? Partners..? Whatever they are, it's complicated and bound for greatness or destruction. 



Dana Swift started making up fantasy worlds when she was eleven years old and hasn’t stopped since. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned degrees in English and Advertising. While in college, Dana competed as a saber fencer and learned a thing or two about fighting, parrying and how it feels to fall in love with your sparring partner. She currently lives with said husband in Miami, Florida.


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