ARC Review: The Boy With Fire by Aparna Verma

Yassen Knight was the Arohassin’s most notorious assassin until a horrible accident. Now, he’s on the run from both the authorities and his former employer. But when Yassen seeks refuge with an old friend, he’s offered an irresistible deal: defend the heir of Ravence from the Arohassin, and earn his freedom.

Elena Ravence prepares to ascend the throne. Trained since birth in statecraft, warfare, and the desert ways, Elena knows she is ready. She only lacks one thing: the ability to hold Fire. With the coronation only weeks away, she must learn quickly or lose her kingdom.

Leo Ravence is not yet ready to give up the crown. There’s still too much work to be done, too many battles to be won. But when an ancient prophecy threatens to undo his lifetime of work, Leo wages war on the heavens themselves to protect his legacy.

The first of The Ravence Trilogy, The Boy with Fire is the tale of a world teetering on the edge of war and prophecy, of fate and betrayal, of man’s irrevocable greed for power — and the sacrifices that must come with it. 

CW: burning of people, reference to past suicide(sacrifice)

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book since the first time it showed up on my Twitter tl, because I’m always excited for a desi author debut and the cover with my favorite color was very enticing. And it turned out to be quite fun.

The writing of this book was quite easy to get into, though finding myself grounded in the world took a bit of time. The author is pretty good at descriptions, and I particularly gasped at the feeling of the desert heat and sand dunes, as well as the painful nature of fire. It took me a while to see where the story was going but I never guessed the most important twists and betrayals, so that was quite fun. But the one surprise which took me a while to get over was realizing that this is a technologically advanced fantasy world – with both hoverpods and tanks and pulse guns, as well as staunch belief in gods and prophecies and Fire magic – I don’t always encounter such worlds and I’m still not sure if I’m completely in love with it, but the author made the blend of the two feel seamless which was pretty cool.

Wow is this a book where I don’t know what to feel about the characters, but not exactly in a bad way. All three of the main POVs really skirt the line between black and white, and it’s up to us as readers to decide what we feel about them. One is a king who probably wants his daughter to have a better kingdom to rule, but he is also consumed by his need for power and control and can’t accept that his actions maybe wrong. The Princess and Queen-to-be loves her people and wants everlasting peace, but worries more about mastering the fire until she realizes this power is all she has left if she wants to fight for her people’s survival. And finally we have a traitor, an assassin, a broken man torn between two homes both of which never accepted him, who yearns to be free but truly doesn’t know what it means. There were a couple of very memorable side characters too whom I really enjoyed getting to know, but don’t want to spoil anything by talking more about them. The romance element is barely there but I was glad for it because the circumstances of the story didn’t make for ideal conditions for love to bloom, but I’m sure we’ll get more of it in the sequel.

On the whole, this was an entertaining story with compelling characters and an underlying theme of the greedy nature of power and what it can lead to. I will be very honest, I’m not sure this is something I will wanna reread, but I definitely wanna know what happens next and will look forward to the next installment.

PS: Thank you to the author for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.

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