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Summary: Iolanthe Seaborne (16) couldn't bear to see how low Master Haygood had sunk. She still believed in him and his expertise as a potions master. When her latest potion went awry, she turned to the Book of xxx. Little did she know that by following the guidance in a margin note that she would change her fate, Master Haygood's fate, and the fate of the realm forever. For in pulling lightning from the sky, she exposed her powers as an Elemental Mage not just to Prince Titus Elberon, but to the Bane. Faced with certain death, she makes a blood oath with Titus ... but is it the right choice? This is a fantasy that is built upon and reads like a well-crafted fairy tale.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, anytime reading, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book,
Recommended Age: read together: 11 and Up; read yourself: 13 and Up
Interest Level: 12 and Up
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: I am not a big fantasy / fairy tale fan, but I loved The Burning Sky. The pieces and events that seem somewhat predictable are what keep you from being overwhelmed with suspense, and at the same time still turning the page. Iolanthe and Titus both are complicated, strong characters. Titus is not all bad; Iolanthe not all good. The reader has to be careful about "choosing sides," which adds to the fun of the book.
Pros: Lots of action and the ability of Iolanthe and Titus to jump into "live" fairy tales make this an imaginative, engaging tale for young adults.
Cons: There is some violence and sexual references. They do not overwhelm the story, but are woven into the narrative in such a way that if you are reading with a pre-teen audience you can't anticipate just "skip over" them.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. I haven't yet seen Book 2, but I can foresee needing to have The Burning Sky handy to remember some of the details.
Educational Themes: Even though this is a book you read just for fun, there are lots of things you can talk about relative to the main characters (Iolanthe, Titus, and the boys at Eton). Those interested in fairy tales and fantasy aficionados will also enjoy finding all of the references to classics in those genres of literature.
Notes: The publisher donated an Advance Review Copy (ARC) of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile.
Literary Categories: Fiction - fantasy, adventure, action, series
Date(s) Reviewed: March 2014
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at barnesandnoble.com; and feedback at amazon.com.