Ignite the Sun by Hanna C. Howard

3 / 5 stars
Read in August 2020
Publication Date: August 18, 2020

Although it took me awhile to finish this book, Ignite the Sun included several elements that I rather enjoyed, leading me to give it a solid 3 stars.

My favorite part of this book was by far the worldbuildling. Going into the story, I didn’t know Terra-Volat was inhabited by nymphs, elves, dwarves, naiads, banshees, and more. When these mystical creatures appeared on the page, I was pleasantly surprised and excited to see what roles they would play in Siria’s story. This made for an incredibly interesting cast of characters with different magical abilities that rendered the world unique among so many other YA Fantasies of late.

The magic system is equally as enchanting, from Siria’s sunchild powers to Yarrow’s ingenious Runepiece. There are wood elves capable of controlling plants, naiads who can manipulate water, and an evil queen who weaponizes darkness. The magic system is very soft, with each ability seeming to have a wide range of powers, but it worked in this case.

Tropes/Clichés I think this book did well:

  • Light vs. Darkness. Light and darkness literally fight one another in this book, a fun twist on this trope.
  • The Chosen One. Siria is the last living sunchild in Terra-Volat after the evil Queen Iyzabel covered the land in darkness. Siria is fated to bring back the light by using her powers to ignite the sun.
  • Lost Orphaned Royalty. However, in this story, this character is not destined to retake the throne.
  • Childhood Friends to Lovers. Siria and Linden sweetly crushed on one another for awhile, creating a slow-burn before they revealed their true feelings. And, not a single love triangle in sight!
  • Old Wizard Mentor. Siria and Yarrow’s relationship felt authentic and sincere since he was a grandfather figure to her long before becoming her magical mentor.

Another factor I really appreciated is that most of the named side characters introduced early in the story end up coming back later and playing a part in the finale. Personally, I don’t like when authors throw in named characters as plot devices or to keep track of who does/says what in a scene. I appreciated that Howard had a role for all of her named characters and gave them significance throughout the book.

Now, what didn’t work for me…

So much of this book is telling rather than showing, which unfortunately made it quite boring and difficult to get through. While most books consist of “show” scenes broken up by expositional “tell” moments, Ignite the Sun felt like the exact opposite. Much of the story was centered in heavy exposition where we are told what the characters are doing or told what Siria is thinking and feeling. Show scenes with dialogue, which typically allow the reader to connect with characters and understand their relationships, were short and sparse. On top of this, there were multiple scenes I wanted to see play out on page, but instead they were explained in two to three sentences or, even worse, skipped completely. Although this lessened at the end of the story, it still made the rest of the book difficult to get through.

Tropes/Clichés this book did not do well:

  • Light vs. Darkness. I also listed this in the positive tropes, but at times it felt heavy-handed, especially with the quotes from other books thrown in at the beginning of each section. Queen Iyzabel loves darkness and black and suffering, and her subpar backstory wasn’t enough for me to classify her as more than a caricature  SuperEvil™ villain.
  • Undiscovered/Untested Powers. Siria has grown up unaware of her sunchild abilities. She is able to master her powers in a short period of time before facing Iysabel, a powerful Witch who has been studying magic her entire life. It felt a bit unbelievable.

Based on the info I can find online, it looks like Ignite the Sun will be a standalone novel. While this debut definitely has its flaws, I think it shows that Hanna C. Howard has a lot of potential to grow in her work and she is an author to keep on your YA Fantasy radar.

Thank you to Blink via Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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