Kamilah Cole constructed a world with all the home-grown ideals and morals that are drilled into Caribbean-ites from birth. She then smoothly threaded in fantastical elements of gods and dragons, which all built the story into an all-consuming fantasy you cannot put down until you know exactly what happens next.
The author took her time to build not simply a world, but ancient history, old feudal lines, and layers of myths and monsters from long forgotten lands. World building feels like too tiny a term to capture what has been described in intricate detail within these pages.
I picked the book up and did not put it down until I finished. The book ravished me. No other way to describe how I felt after. It was feisty, smart, unpredictable, and absorbing in a way I know I will never forget. This author is now one whose work I will follow closely, because she has without a doubt fully captured my attention. To Shape a Dragon’s Breath, the First Book of Nampeshiweisit, is for me, a must read.
I needed a reminder that books can just be good. They can be fun. They can remind you of love, while making you ugly cry with joy. Books can be soft, without trigger warnings, or traumatic triggers, or people dragging themselves over hot coals to achieve some impossible goal. I like those books, but even I can admit, my mind did benefit from reading much lighter fare.
This book felt like eating warm cookies with ponche de crème (the yummier, Caribbean version of eggnog) on a chilly day, cozy, under a soft, fuzzy blanket. It also had that ‘Love Actually’ quality to it. The will they, won’t they? The should they? And the awww yes as it all comes together. Frankly, Hallmark, Harlequin, Netflix, and Lifetime should all be trying to outbid one another for the rights to make this into a seasonal movie.
This book is a palate cleanser specially tailored for those of us who love a touch of fairy in our tales. What caught me with this one is that you go along with the main character, as he discovers that life has a bit more sparkle and twinkle to it than he first imagined.
Another plus to her writing is the way she allows us to see and understand the actions of all the characters and the reasons they are how they are. Even the main villain. Also, I cannot say it enough. Whitney’s world building is fantastic! You might think including so many factions might be overwhelming, but it truly is not. She makes it all work, and work in a way that pushes you to dive headfirst into each book.
Small question, uhm, has a book ever taunted you? I know they can stalk us. Algorithms and such making them pop up everywhere. But I mean taunt. As in you see the book and you see people talking about the book and you feel like a little invisible tug on your soul that whispers, “You should read me.” Just randomly, when you are looking over your TBR list and looking at the cover, you hear, “You should read me.”
Author Nisha J Tuli had a video of hers go viral this last week (Over 3 million views viral), because she “included a highlighted and annotated look at the first line of the Trial of the Sun Queen”. Nisha was laughing because so many of those views were from people freaking out that she dared to write in her own book. I mean, people going nuts because the author of the book wrote in one of her many copies of the book she wrote, is a sign that people are wound wayyyyy too tightly. We love our books, but as Nisha herself puts it, “Yes. Stories are certainly precious. The actual books? Not as much!”
It is gut boiling. And to her credit, I felt it. That is the potency of Rebecca Yarros and her words. Because a good book, for me, is one that disrupts me. It takes me out of my lane, steals my focus, and commands my attention. Yes, I was upset while reading, but she had me. And in hindsight, Iron Flame is the perfectly laid conduit to transition readers away from Basgiath War College into the deeply engulfing world of The Empyrean.