Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publishing Info: eARC from Hodder & Stoughton
Star Rating: 3/5
Back Cover Summary:
An epic tale of revenge and redemption in a world where a memory thief must fight against terrifying monarchs bent on the destruction of her people.
When the royal family of Puerto Leones sets out to destroy magic through a grand and terrible inquisition, spy and memory-thief Renata seeks to kill the prince, leader of the King’s Justice, who plans to use a terrible new weapon to wipe out the magic of the Moria…
For fans who enjoyed the ferocity of Ember in the Ashes, INCENDIARY explores the double-edged sword of memory and the triumph of hope and love in the midst of fear and oppression.
Thank you so much to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGallery for the eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Incendiary is set in a fantasy world inspired by Inquisition-era Spain. The concept of having a character who can steal memories intrigued me. But while the world and concept were interesting, this book was in some ways disappointing.
The opening few chapters grabbed my attention, but there was a lot of new information for the reader, some of which could have been explained better. I did feel a bit lost at times with all the new words and concepts. It was never really explained why Ren is occasionally referred to as an Incendiary, and since that’s the title of the book, it’s a shame that doesn’t come across. I like that we were thrown right into the story, but that did mean I found it a bit difficult to get my head around the magic system. There is a lot of exposition which makes the pacing drag. The first section of the book is very exciting and the last section is also very gripping, but the middle was quite slow and didn’t keep me hooked.
Ren is a good protagonist. While she’s shunned by society because of her magic, she’s also looked upon with mistrust by the Moria because her magic is rare and seen as dangerous. She has the ability to steal people’s memories, and if she steals too many she can leave a person as a Hollow. This creates some great conflict, as Ren doesn’t really fit in anywhere, and it also means she has a lot of internal conflict which is what drives a lot of the story. However, many of the reveals come from memories Ren has stolen. While she is an active rather than passive character, she doesn’t do much to work things out for herself at times, the reveals for the reader are kind of handed to her.
We don’t really get to know many characters other than Ren, especially in the middle of the book. She’s very isolated, which is part of the plot, but that means there aren’t many other characters for the reader to get to know and connect to. There are other characters I liked, but I didn’t feel that I knew them very well.
Without giving too much away, in the latter part of the book there is an escape from a prison which is far too easy. Why are there no guards? It’s supposed to be a super secure prison, but Ren escapes within a couple of paragraphs. That’s it. There’s no tension or suspense because she practically just walks out of the door.
While I enjoyed the book, I didn’t really connect with it enough. The middle is too slow and Ren’s thoughts go round in circles quite a lot which gets a bit repetitive. There are a lot of twists, especially towards the end of the book, which redeemed it somewhat. I wasn’t expecting how it would end, and takes the story down a different path for the sequel, which does intrigue me. I just wish it had been that good all the way through.