Thank you so much to the publisher & Netgalley for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Overall: 3.5/5 Stars
Plot and Themes: 3/5
Awesomeness Factor: 3/5
Review in a Nutshell: Cast in Firelight is an enjoyable read, and I’m glad I read it, but overall isn’t very memorable.
// Content Warning: Violence, Death, Torture (Mention), Sexual Harassment, (Fantasy Drug) Addiction, Animal Death //
Release Date: 1/19/2021
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Page Count: 448
Cast in Firelight follows the point of views of two royal heirs who are arranged to be married, Adraa and Jatin. For nine years, they’ve built up a rivalry, trying to outdo the other, but when they reunite after years of not seeing each other, they mistake each other for someone else. Without knowing the truth of who they are, the two must work together to solve a problem plaguing both their kingdoms.
Before I get started reviewing this book, I did want to mention something that has been brought up in a few other reviews. This is not an OwnVoices book. The author addresses this in the author’s note, and she explains that while this book isn’t OwnVoices, her husband is South Asian and she wanted to write a book where their children can see themselves represented in the main characters.
I think the reason for the confusion here is because the publisher compared this book to books by Sabaa Tahir, Renee Ahdieh, and Hafsah Faizal. I think this can give the audience the wrong impression and make Cast in Firelight seem like it’s OwnVoices when it isn’t. However, this is an issue with the publisher, not the author or the book itself.
As for the representation in the book; I’m not South Asian, so I say if it’s done well or not. I highly recommend you read reviews by South Asian reviewers before deciding on whether or not you want to read it.
Writing & Setting
Cast in Firelight is an easy book to read. The writing is simple, nothing too complicated which would make it great for people just getting into YA fantasy and younger YA readers. The worldbuilding is also fairly simple while still being interesting. The magic system is based on elements and colors, which was fairly basic and easy to remember, but still something fun to read about.
This book primarily follows our two main characters as they try to get to the bottom of a mystery, going out at night in disguise and getting into the occasional fight with bad guys. I’m not a big mystery fan, but there was plenty of action to keep the plot moving. That said, it still took me a minute to get into it. But once I was invested? I was having a great time. The ending raises the stakes (which felt a little low in the first ⅔) and even throws in a few fun twists. However, in the end, I feel the overall plot wasn’t very memorable.
While there is a plot, a lot of this book does revolve around the romance. I love some adorable romance so I was really excited about this. However, I will warn you, there is a bit of instalove (one-sided). But, surprisingly, I didn’t mind it. I really enjoyed watching our two main characters banter and truly get to know each other.
Speaking of our characters, Adraa and Jatin are fun protagonists but nothing truly remarkable. Adraa is caring and hot-tempered. Jatin is arrogant and kind. Both of them are incredibly powerful when it comes to magic but have realistic insecurities that ground them. They had good development over the course of the book, but there was nothing about them that made them stand out from your typical YA protagonist.
Pros- Interesting worldbuilding, fun romance
Cons- Plot didn’t grip me, characters aren’t very distinct
Overall- 3.5/5 stars.
Cast In Firelight is a fun read if you’re looking for something quick and easy. While this first book wasn’t very memorable, based on that last act, I believe the series will get better as it goes on.
If You Liked Cast in Firelight, I’d Recommend:
- The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows
- The Tiger at Midnight (The Tiger at Midnight #1) by Swati Teerdhala [Review]
What’s your favorite book with South Asian-inspired world building?