FairyLoot have included some really awesome books over the past few months, some have even become favourites of mine like Caraval and Strange the Dreamer… and now Roar by Cora Carmack. I was anticipating the release of Roar way before I received the June box, so when I saw it I couldn’t wait to read it! I actually took Roar on holiday with me, and while I can read in a lot of places I struggle to get into books whilst on a plane, but I had no issue this time around which is testament to how enthralled I was! Roar is a unique YA novel about royal politics, storms and storm hunters – read on for my non spoiler review!
“In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.
Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.
To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.
Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.
She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.
Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.”
One of my initial thoughts reading Roar was that wow, the plot was definitely unique. Stormlings protect their people by battling the storms that plague the kingdom, however unbeknown to the current heir, Storm Hunters use their affinities to steal the “hearts” of the storms to trade. The world building was impeccable with each scene so easy to visualise thanks to Carmack’s superb writing skills, alongside minimal info dumping which provided just enough of an insight into the kingdom and its history. Between battles, training scenes and character development, there was never a dull moment.
For me, my favourite thing about the book was the characters. I felt that while Roar was certainly propelled forward by its plot, it was also heavily character driven which I loved, and is definitely the reason why this book became a fast favourite of mine.
Aurora/Rora/Roar (depending on who she was around) was a great female protagonist for me. I really respected that she wanted to do what was right, not just what was easy or expected. Yes, she’s beautiful, and I did worry at first that it was going to be the typical “oh I’m so beautiful and the story can’t progress until you’re reminded how beautiful and special I am”, but she definitely wasn’t entitled. More importantly, she’s imperfect and knows that she’s got a long way to go, but is willing to put in the work. Roar has a talent for languages and map reading which was both interesting and refreshing at the same time, and stood up for herself when she needed to. I found her relatable and endearing and I genuinely cared about where her story was heading.
In terms of love interests, technically there is two and it’s a *sort of love triangle but not love triangle and it’s executed really well* kind of thing. I was unsure on one of the interests in the beginning. There was just something about him that I didn’t quite like and his attitude towards Roar only added to this uneasiness, but as the story went on I got the feeling that there might be room for character growth. Maybe? Is he an anti hero? The more we read from his point of view my feelings towards him began to thaw (a little) and we got a glimpse that maybe he isn’t as terrible as we first thought.
Now the second love interest… this is one that I am interested in. He was caring, brave, clever and um, pretty hot which makes it even better I guess? At first, I was fully behind his and Roar’s relationship, though after reading other reviews (such as Becky’s here) I can understand that some of his actions could be considered abusive and thought that it was important to highlight this within my review. Coming to this realisation did mean that my rating went down a little.
The storm hunter band of friends were another hit for me. The characters were diverse, lovable, interesting in their own right and contributed to the story rather than just being there to drive the plot forwards. The romance in Roar was satisfying and felt organic as it wasn’t rushed, but there was definitely so much more to the story than just that.
So how do I wrap this up? I knew that there would be something different about Roar, but if I didn’t love YA fantasy already, this cemented it for me. Roar was a well crafted, diverse and fast paced read that gripped me from page one; my eyes couldn’t keep up with how quickly I was flipping through the pages! I feel like I need to read it all over again to fully appreciate just how good Roar was.
I couldn’t put this book down but was seriously gutted when it came to an end. I feel that the sequel will definitely step it up a gear, as although Roar wrapped up neatly without a cliffhanger, there is still so much that needs resolving. I need the second book now! Readers looking for a new thrilling fantasy novel will not be disappointed.
*Book depository affiliate links used. I get a small commission if you purchase through them, and you get free delivery!
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