Title: Ignite the Sun
Author: Hanna Howard
Page Length: 352
Publication Date: August 18, 2020
Synopsis: Once upon a time, there was something called the sun… In a kingdom ruled by an evil witch, the sun is just part of a legend about light-filled days of old. Luckily for everybody in the kingdom, Siria Nightingale is headed to the heart of the darkness to try and restore the light–or she will lose everything trying.
Sixteen year-old Siria Nightingale has never seen the sun. The light is dangerous, according to Queen Iyzabel, an evil witch who has shrouded the kingdom in shadow.
Siria has always hated the darkness and revels in the stories of the light-filled old days that she hears from her best friend and his grandfather. Besides them, nobody else understands her fascination with the sun, especially not her strict and demanding parents. Siria’s need to please them is greater even than her fear of the dark. So she heads to the royal city–the very center of the darkness–for a chance at a place in Queen Iyzabel’s court.
But what Siria discovers at the Choosing Ball sends her on a quest toward the last vestiges of the sun with a ragtag group of rebels who could help her bring back the Light … or doom the kingdom to shadow forever.
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Ignite the Sun has a really interesting premise. On her sixteenth birthday, a girl discovers that she has special powers. She is a sunchild and the only person who can defeat Queen Iyzabel, the evil witch who has shrouded the kingdom in darkness. Syria travels with a trusted group of companions to unite with the rebels, master her powers, plan the witch’s demise, and bring the sun back to their kingdom. Can Siria and the rebels succeed before it’s too late?
Siria is a richly developed protagonist who begins the story as a young woman who blindly follows the dictates of society. She falls prey to the lies of the Queen, just like everyone else. I like how Siria changes and matures after realizing that what she always believed as truth is a lie. She must reflect on what she believes, face her prejudices, and reevaluate what is most important. Early in the story, revealed secrets bring with them a sense of betrayal, and Siria questions feelings, relationships, and basically everything she knows about her life. She struggles to come to terms with these revelations as well as the revelations about her true identity and her powers.
Witnessing the violent death of an innocent man at the hands of the Queen’s guards serves as a catalyst for Siria. It is after this incident that Siria embraces her gift and realizes how much she can help others. This is such a pivotal moment in her maturation, and it is when Siria sees her potential.
Yarrow helps Siria realize her powers and acts as a mentor, protector, and father-figure throughout the novel. I loved this relationship! Yarrow and Siria have a special bond built on love and trust. Look, for example, at the way she describes Yarrow’s gift for music:
Anyone who had never heard Yarrow play before…had never properly heard the music of the instrument. The bow flew over the strings like a flame dancing on the wick of a candle-leaping up and skimming across, diving down and running back and forth, so fast it was barely visible. The strings sang with a voice that seemed to come from the world beyond the worlds, for it was wild and elegant at once; sometimes keening so high it was almost a screech, but never too severe; other times dragging lo and resonant and so rich the sound echoed through my bones.
The vivid imagery when describing the setting, major characters, and plot adds depth to the story. This dynamic use of figurative language is not as noticeable with the minor characters, however. A bit more development would lend a depth to the minor characters, especially considering there are magical beings like elves, nymphs, banshees, and more. I wanted to know more about their lives and worlds and experiences and felt this was a missed opportunity.
The friends- to-more-than-friends romance that blossoms is a highlight of the story. I’m a sucker for a good romance, and Siria and Linden’s love story is fantastic! Siria and Linden have been friends since childhood, and their developing feelings are sweet and strong. Unsure of the other’s feelings, they are so awkward and insecure. It is clear to the reader that these two love each other (and not in a friend way), but Siria and Linden have several obstacles in their way, including Siria’s fear of physically harming him with her power, that prevent them from addressing their feelings.
His eyes softened so much they seemed to send spidery cracks through my entire body, breaking me into fragments held together by skin.
Their love for each other is palpable, and I liked watching them evolve from best friends into something more.
The rich mythology was another highlight of the novel. I enjoyed learning about the history of the kingdom, how and why the kingdom changed from light to darkness, and the mythology of the sun children. Lore about the different magical beings and powers, as well as the history of the Queen, is also fascinating.
Ignite the Sun is a quick-paced coming-of-age story with interesting, magical characters and an immersive plot. The ending did feel a little rushed, and I wish it were developed a bit more, especially considering this is a standalone. That being said, the major characters are deftly-developed and interesting, and the story is action-packed.
Thanks so much to Netgalley and Blink for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
- The romance, of course! 🙂 Siria and Linden have a strong friendship which builds, slowly, into something more. It’s lovely.
- The interesting premise. A sunchild who can bring light to a world filled with darkness? Intriguing!
- The characters. Especially Siria, Linden, and Yarrow!
Being afraid doesn’t make you a coward. It’s how you react that makes you a coward.
I could not-would not- be ruled by my fear. I could use it, I could heed its advice, I could even let it fuel me…but I could not allow it to control me.
Readers who enjoy action-packed young adult fantasies with interesting mythology and characters will love Ignite the Sun!