Fiction Book Reviews

Fantasy YA | Incendiary | Zoraida Córdova

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I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova.  Incendiary is the first story in the Hollow Crown series – if you’re looking to start a new fantasy series, this could be exactly what you’re looking for.  This is the first book I’ve read by this author but it won’t be my last! 

Book cover for Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova

Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova is published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton and is available to purchase in digital, hardcover and audiobook formats.

An epic tale of love and revenge set in a world inspired by Inquisition-era Spain pits the magical Moria against a terrifying royal authority bent on their destruction.

When the royal family of Selvina sets out to destroy magic through a grand and terrible inquisition, magic warrior-thief Renata – trained in the art of stealing memories-seeks to kill the prince, leader of the King’s Justice, only to learn through powerful memories that he may be the greatest illusion of them all … and that the fate of all magic now lies in her hands.

With the ferocity of series like Ember in the Ashes and Throne of Glass and loosely based on 15th century Spain, INCENDIARY explores the double-edged sword of memory and the triumph of hope in the midst of fear and oppression.


A first book in a series often has a slower pace as it lays the foundations and builds the world but Incendiary has been an action packed read from start to finish – and I have to say I didn’t want it to end!  This is one of those stories that I thought about when I wasn’t reading and I carried it on in my sleep … 

Ren is such a fabulously flawed character.  Not knowing whether her memories are hers or others causes more than confusion – especially when there are memories she doesn’t want to remember.  Being used as a tool all her life has led to distrust but underneath all the angst, she still gives others chances and wants to do the right thing.  To me this was a strength!  As much as I enjoyed the story when Ren is a part of unit plotting and planning, I loved her voluntary return to court.  I never knew for sure how her ambiguous feelings towards Mendez would play out.  There are a few characters I couldn’t be sure of either.  I was always ready for things to turn into something chaotic (which they often do).  I had no idea about the importance of one character and wonder how this will impact on Ren!

A dictatorial world has to be brutal and yes, there is physical pain and emotional turmoil. 

I take a deep breath and push away the melancholy that is sticking itself to my skin like the thread on my hand.

The motivation and energy needed to fight back to save the Moria from being hunted and wiped out is inspiring. 

As much as I loved the pace throughout the story, leading up to the deadline of the Sun Festival was nailbiting. This didn’t turn out to be quite what I expected to happen and pivots the story. I love it when that happens. 🙂

You’ll find the fantasy tropes you would expect.  For me the story was unique because of Ren. I also loved that not everything was black and white but shades of grey. 

This world is amazing (it would be just as good on the movie screen) and I can’t wait to find out how the next quest is going to work out in Hollow Crown #2.

Ps  (I don’t usually compare one author to another … however, if you enjoy the worlds that Robin Hobb creates, you’ll love the Hollow Crown series.)

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Zoraida Córdova is the author of nine fantasy novels for kids and teens, most recently the award-winning Brooklyn Brujas series, Incendiary, and Star Wars: A Crash of Fate. Her short fiction has appeared in the New York Times bestselling anthology Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, Come on In: 15 Stories About Immigration and Finding Home, and Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft. She is the co-editor of Vampires Never Get Old: Eleven Tales with Fresh Bite. Her first book for young readers is The Way to Rio Luna, coming June 2020. She is the co-host of the podcast Deadline City with Dhonielle Clayton. Zoraida writes romance under the pen name, Zoey Castile. 

Zoraida was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. She studied English Literature at Hunter College and the University of Montana in Missoula.  When she’s not working on her next novel, she’s finding a new adventure.  Twitter : @zlikeinzorro  Instagram : zoraidasolo

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I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 9+ years. My love of reading, crocheting, being out in nature and positive psychology are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school.

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