Book Review: Together We Burn by Isabel Ibañez

About the Book:

Title: Together We Burn

Author: Isabel Ibañez

Page Length: 368

Publication Date: May 31, 2022

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Synopsis: An ancient city plagued by dragons. A flamenco dancer determined to save her ancestral home. A dragon hunter refusing to teach her his ways. They don’t want each other, but they need each other, and without him her world will burn.

Eighteen-year-old Zarela Zalvidar is a talented flamenco dancer and daughter of the most famous Dragonador in Hispalia. People come for miles to see him fight in their arena, which will one day be hers.

But disaster strikes during their five hundredth anniversary show, and in the carnage, Zarela’s father is horribly injured. Facing punishment from the Dragon Guild, Zarela must keep the arena—her ancestral home and inheritance —safe from their greedy hands. She has no choice but to take her father’s place as the next Dragonador. When the infuriatingly handsome dragon hunter, Arturo Díaz de Montserrat, withholds his help, she refuses to take no for an answer.

But even if he agrees, there’s someone out to ruin the Zalvidar family, and Zarela will have to do whatever it takes in order to prevent the Dragon Guild from taking away her birthright. 

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, including Amazon, and I may earn a small commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through my links.


My Review:

A fire burns in my chest, fueled by the love for family and hope and legacy.

Zarela Zalvidar is a popular flamenco dancer and the daughter of a famous Dragonador, which is similar to a matador except with dragons. When tragedy strikes during one of their shows and her father is injured, saving their home and the arena falls to Zarela. But as another accident occurs, Zarela suspects that foul play is involved. Many people would love to see the Zalvidar family fail, including political enemies, activists, and more. But who targeted her family?

Zarela knows she must open the arena as quickly as possible in order to earn enough money to pay their debts or risk losing everything. She decides to take her father’s place as Draganador, but with little experience and in need of new dragons, Zarela needs assistance. She enlists the begrudging help of dragon hunter Arturo Díaz de Montserra, but their growing and contradictory relationship complicates things. Will they be able to save Zare;a’s home and arena before it’s too late, and will they figure out who is targeting the family? Plus, what secrets is Arturo hiding, and how do they connect to Zarela?

I loved this book! It was one of my most anticipated YA fantasy reads of 2022, and it surpassed my expectations. I love the author’s writing style and how the story pulls you in from the very beginning. Set in a unique fantasy world inspired by medieval Spain, the story is rich in culture and super immersive. The story is so vivid and detailed, and the author’s use of dialogue, symbolism, and sensory and figurative language is exceptional. I found myself writing a lot of notes and highlighting many poignant and thought-provoking passages throughout my reading because I enjoyed the writing so much. I also like how balanced the book is. The world-building, plot, and character development are all well-developed and intriguing, yet none detracts or overshadows the others. Ibañez has a gift for storytelling, that’s for sure!

The plot is well-developed and intriguing, and betrayals, life-threatening situations, and several twists and turns create a suspenseful and exciting story. Between dragons escaping, underhanded politicians threatening Zarela’s livelihood, and Zarela’s dangerous mission to save her family, there is never a dull moment in the book.

Zarela is such a compelling protagonist, and I loved her story. Smart, determined, and driven, Zarela will do whatever it takes to keep the family business afloat and protect her family’s reputation. Zarela is fiercely loyal to her family, and she loves her parents more than anything. She grieves the loss of her mother deeply, which is something I totally related to. I thought her feelings about her mother and the grief she is burdened with were very realistic, and it resonated so much with me. Zarela often lives in the shadow of her parents’ fame, and I liked seeing her slowly define herself as an individual and not just as her parent’s daughter. She is tested and questioned and doubted, but she faces all obstacles and roadblocks with grit, passion, and a drive to prove herself and save her family.

Arturo is super swoon-worthy!! He is so mysterious and secretive, yet beneath that prickly exterior, he is also good and kind and ethical. I always love a handsome, conflicted, brooding hero, and Arturo is all that and more. He is an amazingly talented dragon trainer, and he has very strong views about dragons and their treatment. Though he has a gruff, closed-off demeanor, he slowly reveals the complex and dynamic man he is. I love his quiet strength, patience, and how he slowly changes as he grows closer to Zarela.

The slow-building, enemies-to-lovers romance between Zarela and Arturo is one of my favorite parts of the story (no shock there!). This pair has so much chemistry, and I love how their love story unfolds and grows. They have a fantastic love-hate connection, and their relationship is emotionally charged from their first meeting. So many secrets stand in their way, but there is also a ton of passion between them. And they have such fabulous banter. Whenever they’re together, whether they’re working or arguing or doing something mundane, the sparks always fly. They antagonize each other, commiserate together, and show each other possibilities they never anticipated. And when Arturo plays the guitar for Zarela – sa-woon!!!

The secondary characters are great too, and I especially like Lola. Lola is a good friend, and she has an intriguing story too. She is so witty and protective, and I loved the scenes with her in them. The story also includes a complex social structure, conflicting political and ethical beliefs, the battle between tradition and the desire for change, and themes of family, honor, forgiveness, identity, and more. There are so many thought-provoking and relevant topics woven into this layered, magical, and captivating story.

I adored Together We Burn (Ahhh – that title!! One of my favorite parts of the book has this line in it, and it’s fan-tastic!!). It’s a unique, magical, and intriguing story, and I loved the characters and the romance! I highly recommend the book to readers who enjoy rich, immersive, and romantic YA or NA fantasy. Thanks so much to NetGalley, Wednesday Books, and the author for providing a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Rating:

Favorite Parts:

  • The writing style.
  • The characters.
  • The themes and messages.
  • The ROMANCE!

Favorite Lines:

Time is the worst kind of thief, sneaky and effective and gone before you realize what’s been taken.

There are other ways to inspire hope than carrying on a tradition that broadens the divide between dragon and man.

Art ought never to be erased/

Pride is a relentless taskmaster, and I’ve been enslaved to it for most my life.

Recommendations:

I would highly recommend Together We Burn to readers who enjoy YA or NA fantasy or romantasy.

7 thoughts on “Book Review: Together We Burn by Isabel Ibañez

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