Calling all YA fantasy readers: Claire Legrand’s Furyborn is here and it is fantastic.
Where do I even begin to describe how awesome this book is?
When I first heard about Furyborn, I was intrigued. I mean, it’s the story of two young women, living centuries apart, in a world that they can create or destroy. Though she has kept the fact that she is one of the most potentially powerful people in the world a secret for the majority of her life, Rielle’s secret is exposed and she must fight to defend herself and her right to live. A thousand years later, Eliana is still affected by the Rielle’s actions and the consequences of her power while also on the run to protect her own life. Throw in an ancient prophecy about one queen destroying the world with the other being the savior, two-faced angels, and a whole lot of badass supporting female characters and, well, I think you’ll understand why I wanted to read this book.
I don’t normally do this, but I actually want to start with the book’s cover and the packaging that I received it in. The cover itself is stunning, with beautiful golds and reds standing out in front of a black background. It’s so regal and lush, and yet so striking. I honestly couldn’t stop staring at it once I had it in my hands.
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Furyborn and so my copy had a bit of extra special packaging. It was wrapped in a similarly decorated tear-away box that was almost too pretty to open. But as soon as I started opening it, I couldn’t stop. Especially considering the box’s warning.
So with that warning — as well as my awe over the cover art — in mind, I got to reading Furyborn and, surprisingly, I wasn’t completely taken with it at first. The prologue is one of those that drops you into the middle of a much later scene without context just to show you the stakes and set up the ferocity of the world. The following few chapters after that were a little dull in comparison. They set the stage with some history of the world, but didn’t completely catch my attention. I was a little disappointed in how easily I could put the book down and walk away from it for hours at a time without really feeling the urge to return to it, especially considering how excited I was for it.
But do you know what other series I had that exact same issue with? Harry Potter.
Now, I’m not saying that this book is going to be Harry Potter-like in terms of how much it’ll blow up. I’m not that good at predicting success. But what I am saying is that my experience with reading Furyborn is very similar to my experience with reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: I had a little bit of a hard time getting into it at first (because I just had so many questions) but once I did? BOOM. I was hooked.
Furyborn is one of those high fantasy tales that doesn’t explain everything right away, so you’re supposed to be confused and learn along with the main characters. And boy, do Rielle and Eliana have a lot to learn, both about themselves as well as the world around them.
Neither Rielle nor Eliana are ever all one thing. They’re not all good but they’re also not all bad, even though the main prophecy in the book tries to paint the two “queens” that way. And honestly, from this first book, it’s difficult to say which is which. Though one is supposed to be the Sun Queen and the other the Blood Queen, each shows promise of being either. Or both at the same time. The two “queens” that the book centers upon are women just trying to do their best with what they’re given.
Both Rielle and Eliana are flawed yet relatable. They make terrible mistakes and suffer the consequences nobly and without excuse. It’s in these mistakes and their reactions to them that we really get to know their hearts and see who they are at their cores. However, while we can tell a lot about them from their actions and reactions, it’s their love for their one or two loved ones that keeps them grounded and in touch with their humanity.’
As you might expect, some of those loved ones are family members or close friends that each woman cares deeply about. But two of them (one in each woman’s timeline) are strapping men that are impossible not to fall for. But they’re not the usual “strong protective alpha male” types. The leading heartthrobs in Furyborn are emotional and vulnerable in addition to being strong, capable hunks. They bring out the best in Eliana and Rielle and the queens bring out the best in them. It’s a wonderful balance.
The men in this book also bring out the best discussions of sex and sexuality that I’ve seen in a YA book in a long, long time (if ever at all). Descriptions of physical interactions and reactions are wonderfully detailed and amazingly mature. There’s no flowery language to try to hide movements or “impure” thoughts. Everything is described and written without stigma and without censorship. While sexual moments between characters are by no means explicit or too adult, they’re mature by normal YA standards which is really refreshing. I always find myself wanting a little more when reading about sex or romantic interactions in YA books, but that wasn’t the case with Furyborn. These scenes are perfectly (and tastefully) handled.
But, while I loved the men and the romance, it’s all of the women in this story that really made it a powerful one for me. In addition to Rielle and Eliana, Furyborn introduces quite a few other capable and formidable women along the way, all of different backgrounds and ages. While the women in this book need help from men at some points (and explicitly ask for it on those occasions), they’re never painted as damsels in distress.
There’s one character in particular that Eliana meets about 1/3 of the way through her story that really sticks out. She reminds me a lot of Black Panther‘s Nakia in that she’s a spy who doesn’t need saving but also bears a lot of emotional weight in the story. And there’s another female character in Rielle’s time whose dramatic reveal toward the end makes her more formidable than she was ever given credit for.
Sure, Furyborn‘s action, adventure, and romance are incredible, but it’s the portrayals of women and female relationships that really endeared this novel to me.
While reading Furyborn, I wasn’t actually sure how it was going to be a trilogy because it seemed to be on track to wrap up with one book. But the further it delved into the characters and gave a lot of time to interpersonal relationships and interactions, the more drawn out time became (in the best way possible). Though I’m still not quite sure what this trilogy will look like or how it will shake out, I know that I’m incredibly excited to find out and can’t wait to read the next installment.
I have a feeling this book will be one that everyone will be talking about and I can’t wait. Though it starts a bit slow, Claire Legrand’s Furyborn is a wild ride that you won’t be able to get enough of.
Bring on book two!