2:30 pm EDT, June 13, 2017

‘Roar’ book review: Cora Carmack crafts an unforgettable story in a rich, turbulent world

Cora Carmack’s first foray into YA is every bit the success I hoped it would be, and a far better book than I ever could have imagined. Roar is an absolute must read.

About ‘Roar’

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

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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.

‘Roar’ book review

I have been a Cora Carmack fan since I first cracked open Faking It all those years ago. Her stories have always stood out as favorites, and I’ve recommended them to just about every person I’ve ever met. Her New Adult books have blown me away with their depth and earnestness, and I didn’t know what to expect from a Cora Carmack YA fantasy book. I definitely underestimated what sort of absolutely incredible world she could build when not constrained by limitations like reality.

The moment you open Roar, you are introduced to a heroine who isn’t fearless, and isn’t all powerful, but is brave enough to do what she must to protect her people and face the responsibilities of her birthplace. Aurora’s authenticity leaps off the page scene after scene, whether she’s showing vulnerability with her mother, tossing daggers with Cassius, or taking a calculated risk to put her people, and herself, in a better situation. I could identify with her and want to join her quest in equal measure. It was easy to feel pulled into the story and want to become one of the hunters, while also seeing the value in how Aurora’s strength could be seen and adapted for our world.

I found the book’s treatment of Cassius Locke to be one of its most delightful surprises. Before the story truly gets going, we learn that Cassius and Aurora are to be wed in an arranged marriage to strengthen both their families and earn her people protection. It would have been all too easy to make Cassius slimy and awful. Instead, Cora wound complication into his bones. He’s as conflicted a hero as Aurora is a heroine. I am beyond intrigued to see what Cora has in store for Cassius in the rest of this series. He is the character I feel like I know the least, but want to know the most.

You can’t talk characters and development without talking about Locke. The relationship that develops between Roar and Locke is well written and and absolutely enchanting. The extreme conditions of their reality allow for them to bond quickly and deeply, anchoring them to each other so that no matter whether it’s a literal or figurative storm trying to take them down, they can weather the tempest. He’s strong and bold, but without the rash, abrasive quality that can be quite a distraction.

Cora surprised me with twists and turns in this book just as ferocious as the storms in the story. Halfway through Roar, I believed I knew the roadmap. I thought I knew what was coming next, and I arrogantly dreaded a plot device I sensed coming that I’ve read a million times before. I should have known better. This is a Cora Carmack book after all. As soon as I fell victim to those expectations, the story changed and brought me to places I’ve never seen a story go before.

The secrets and twists this book holds within its pages are among the best I’ve ever read. I have so many questions and desires when it comes to learning more about Caelira, the history of the Stormlings, and the lore of this brilliant new world. I want to devour this series, but thankfully, I have more than enough time to read Roar over and over again, soaking up every molecule of information left behind until we can return to Caelira, storm hunting, and a Rage season that promises to challenge every inhabitant, be they normal, Stormling, or Stormlord. Bring on book two. I am beyond ready for more.

Roar is available now wherever books are sold. Get your copy today from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Indiebound, and make sure to add it on Goodreads too.

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