I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.
The Spanish Inqusition is one of the periods of history that scares me most of all. While xenophobia and hatred is in no way unique to that period, its setting in an age that is usually perceived as the Renaissance, supposedly an age of great civilisation and progress, combined with an extreme level of state-sanctioned cruelty is harrowing. Inspired by this period of Latin history, Zoraida Còrdova’s new novel Incendiary, the first in the Hollow Crown series, is set against the background of a war between Andalucía and Moria – with the remaining Moria, possessing magical abilities, slowly but surely being decimated.
As a history nerd, I simply had to read Incendiary as soon as possible, and am immensely grateful to Kate Keehan and Hodder for providing me with an advance copy via Netgalley in exchange for this honest review.
RELEASE DATE: 28/04/20
STAR RATING: 4.5/5 ✶
SYNOPSIS: Renata was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucía. As a memory thief, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata was used by the crown to carry out the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.
Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred—or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she drained during her time in the palace.
When Dez, the commander of her unit—and the boy she’s grown to love—is taken captive by the notorious Príncipe Dorado, Renata must return to the palace and complete Dez’s top secret mission herself. Can she keep her cover, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.
But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the fate of the entire kingdom—and end the war that has cost her everything. (from Zoraida’s website)
OPINIONS: I loved Incendiary from start to finish, I could not put it down. I would argue that it is Zoraida’s best work to date, and I cannot wait for the sequel (WHY DOES READING ARCS MEAN WAITING SO LONG FOR THE STORY TO CONTINUE?!) Renata is a wonderfully complex heroine struggling against the world, the regime, and, most of all, herself. Over the course of the story, she grows, learns, and realises that the world is not as black and white as she had believed, and that she might need to learn how to trust in order to survive and succeed. As a Moria with the powers of memory, a Robari, rare and valuable to the regime, Renata is coveted by both sides, but trusted by neither, and one of the most important elements of the story is that she needs to find herself in this mess.
But of course Incendiary is not centered around a single character – it would not be a true Zoraida Còrdova novel if there were not group heist shenanigans and ensuing chaos! Combined with the spring 2020 revolution trend, I think we can safely assume that we have a hit on our hands. An imaginative world, well-crafted characters and a thrilling story are bound to enchant readers and leave them wanting more.
I’m actually having a hard time thinking about what to say about Incendiary apart from READ IT – it is a wonderful book, and I do highly recommend it! It has everything I like in a book (except, maybe, dragons, but those wouldn’t make any sense), and I loved that it based a high fantasy world on a Latin perspective, rather than classical mid-European sword-and-sorcery imagery. Add Incendiary on Goodreads here, and pre-order it from Hive or Waterstones, or your indie of choice!