Snapshot (ARC) Review: Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria

Title: Fire with Fire
Author: Destiny Soria
Series: N/A
Pages: 432
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 8th 2021

TW: panic attacks and ableism

**Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher which does not influence my review**

      “Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.
      Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. With Dani lost to the dragons, Eden turns to the mysterious and alluring sorcerers to help save her sister. Now on opposite sides of the conflict, the sisters will do whatever it takes to save the other. But the two are playing with magic that is more dangerous than they know, and there is another, more powerful enemy waiting for them both in the shadows.”

  • Dani – Dani was born into a family of dragon slayers, but dragon slaying is the last thing on her mind. While a natural when it comes to combat, she wants a life outside of the family business. She wants to spend time with her best friend Tomás and work a summer job instead of spending endless hours training with her sister. She’s driven by passion which often makes her impulsive, but it also makes her determined to do what’s right even if it means going against the people she loves.
  • Eden – Eden is determined to be the best dragon slayer she can be. More rigorous in her training, she often grows impatient with her sister’s cavalier attitude. She should be the superior fighter, but no matter how much work she puts into training, Dani always seems to outshine her. Something that doesn’t seem fair when Eden has dedicated so much time and has given up any semblance of a social life in pursuit of the family legacy.
  • Sisters – I love that Fire with Fire‘s main relationship is sisterhood. Dani and Eden are very different from one another. They don’t always see eye to eye and there is a lot of frustration between the two, but they also love one another fiercely and in time discover how much they can learn from the other.
  • Dragons and magical system – I don’t think we can ever get too many dragon books and this is only the second book I’ve read with Latinx protagonists in a dragon fantasy. In this story, dragons are the source of magic, it flows from them, but they are also dangerous creatures prone to violence against humans. Both dragon slayers and sorcerers have made it their mission to rid the world of dragons, but they often clash when it comes to the right methods.
  • Magic and mental health – Appreciated seeing the novel address magic and mental health. One really important storyline is that magic does not fix mental illness because having a mental illness doesn’t mean a person is broken.
  • Romance subplot – There is one romance subplot that plays out really quickly and that I couldn’t buy into. If the character had been introduced earlier, it would have made it more believable.

Destiny Soria once again delivers a unique fantasy with Fire with Fire, filled with heart-stopping action and the resilient love between sisters.

★ ★ ★ ★
(4/5)

Cover Reveal: FIRE WITH FIRE by Destiny Soria

I am so excited to bring you today’s post. This is one of the highlights of my blogging career and I feel really honored to be hosting Destiny Soria’s cover reveal for her 2021 Spring release, Fire with Fire. Before we get started, Destiny and I don’t want to distract from what’s happening in this country. We both support Black Lives Matter and want to share a couple of resources with you where you can help either financially or with your signature. Please take a look at these and contribute if you are able. Thank you.

Donate to Birmingham Community Support Fund here.

Help homeless Black trans women by donating here.

Sign this petition that calls for justice for Breonna Taylor.

I was first introduced to Destiny Soria through her debut novel Iron Cast. It’s one of my favorite historical fantasies. If this is your first introduction to this author, I encourage you to check out her previous novels as you eagerly await this 2021 spring release. Before the cover reveal, I asked Destiny a few questions about her upcoming novel Fire with Fire. Check out the interview below along with a few teaser images.

1. Fire with Fire focuses on two sisters, what can you tell us about these characters and their relationship with one another?

Eden and Dani Rivera are from a family of legendary dragon slayers. Eden, the older sister, is ambitious and driven to become the best slayer of her generation. Despite her dedication, Eden is continually frustrated by how effortlessly Dani seems to best her in every aspect of training, even though Dani cares more about her friends and summer job than she does about slaying dragons. The tension between the sisters reaches a boiling point when Dani discovers that she has a magical bond with a dragon and must decide once and for all where her loyalty truly lies.

2. Your previous two novels (Iron Cast & Beneath the Citadel) were both character-driven and friendship focused. Can we expect the same with your upcoming release?

Absolutely! I loved exploring the complexities of friendship in this novel, as well as the even messier complexities of family. Of course, that’s not to say there’s not also a fair supply of magic and mayhem driving the plot. Even though this book has a contemporary setting (the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee), I hope readers of my other books will find familiar enjoyment in the friendships and snark.

3. This is one of the first times I’ve seen a dragon fantasy with Latinx characters (the other is Amparo Ortiz’s upcoming release, Blazewrath Games), tell me why you decided to explore this particular myth with these characters rather than traditional Latin American folklore.

Like Eden and Dani, I’m half-white, half-Mexican-American, but I was raised mostly divorced from my Latinx heritage. There’s often a strange kind of alienation experienced by biracial children. When I was growing up, I knew I wasn’t white (not even passing), but I also had so little connection to my Mexican family and traditions, that I didn’t feel like I was allowed to claim my Latinx heritage either. I’m still learning how to navigate my own biracial identity, and in writing these characters as a reflection of my own childhood experience (minus dragons and magic, alas), I hope there are others who can see themselves represented as well. Latinx and biracial identities are an infinitely rich tapestry, and there are so many wonderfully diverse books out there. I hope we can keep seeing more and more represented in YA literature, especially in books where the characters’ identity isn’t the sole focus of the book.


4. Fire with Fire is your third novel, what was different about writing this one? Anything get easier or harder?

You’d think that writing books would be the sort of thing that gets easier over time, but in my experience at least, writing each new book is like jumping out of an airplane with no certainty that your parachute will open—or that you’re even wearing one. The only thing that gets easier for me is recognizing my own weaknesses. This is my first time writing in a contemporary setting, so that presented a whole new host of challenges. In particular I’ve learned just how outdated my taste in music is, heh.

And now for the big reveal…

I love this cover so much! The color scheme is gorgeous and I cannot wait to see how the colors pop in person. Special shout out to Viv Tanner who illustrated, visit their site here and Mary Claire Cruz who designed the cover, visit her site here.

Learn More About Destiny Soria’s Fire with Fire:

Title: Fire with Fire
Author: Destiny Soria
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s
Release Date: Spring 2021

      “Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.
      Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. With Dani lost to the dragons, Eden turns to the mysterious and alluring sorcerers to help save her sister. Now on opposite sides of the conflict, the sisters will do whatever it takes to save the other. But the two are playing with magic that is more dangerous than they know, and there is another, more powerful enemy waiting for them both in the shadows.”

Add Fire with Fire on Goodreads now!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Destiny Soria is a Young Adult fantasy author and freelance writer. Her debut novel IRON CAST is about magic, mobsters, and two best friends kicking ass in 1920s Boston. Her second novel BENEATH THE CITADEL features rebels, seers, and stolen memories. She lives in Birmingham, AL, where she spends her time trying to come up with bios that make her sound kind of cool. She has yet to succeed.

FOLLOW DESTINY SORIA:

Website: http://www.destinysoria.com/

Twitter: @thedestinysoria

Instagram: @thedestinysoria

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dlsoria

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14757755.Destiny_Soria

Purchase Destiny Soria’s previous work on Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon now!

What do you love about the cover? Are you also looking forward to Destiny Soria’s upcoming release Fire with Fire? Let’s talk in the comments!

ARC Review: Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

Title: Beneath the Citadel
Author: Destiny Soria
Series: N/A
Pages: 544
Publisher: Amulet
Release Date: October 9th 2018
*I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher which does not influence my review*

      “In the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade.
      In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her — and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city — or themselves.”

swirl (2)

Destiny Soria’s Beneath the Citadel has interesting political and magical systems, but I found the story overall to be a little too convoluted. Soria’s debut Iron Cast‘s biggest strength was the friendship at its center and it’s the same with this sophomore novel. Beneath the Citadel focuses on four friends infiltrating the center of an all-powerful political power in hopes of discovering why people in the city of Eldra have been disappearing. In a world ruled by seers’ prophecies, the ruling chancellor and council have used these visions to wield power over the people, squashing any rebellion before it can gain any footing. Cassandra “Cassa” Vera is the daughter of rebels. Her distrust of the council runs deep; she along with her friends, Alys, Evander, and Newt hatch a plan to infiltrate the Citadel and find answers. The novel opens with these four friends being dragged in front of the governing body, their plan having been thwarted. I’m still not sure how I feel about the choice to open the novel with the leads having already been arrested. I was really interested in reading about their scheme, how they each contributed to the plan, and how they worked together. What follows is the lead characters trying to stop the council by teaming up with a mysterious player who has his own motives.

Cassa is the unofficial leader of the pact. She’s bold and confident, with a leap-first-and-ask-questions-later kind of personality. Her drive, however, is infectious. Perhaps the reason people are so drawn to her is the legacy she carries. Her parents were prominent rebel leaders who died trying to protect the people of Eldra. In a way Cassa’s hatred of the citadel is the only way she knows how to honor her parents. Much of the time, it felt like Cassa wanted to do things only on her terms and while there is some character development in this department, it felt like she was never really a part of the group dynamic. I never felt her connection to the other characters, including Evander, with whom she had a past romantic relationship.

I really liked Alys. She’s more brains than brawn and not someone you would immediately think of when trying to break into a secure facility. Still, she’s an invaluable asset to the team and excels in her own area of expertise. She’s very science-based and believes everything can be explained through science, hence her passion for apothecary. Alys also has anxiety which hits her at inopportune moments. I loved her relationship with her brother Evander. These two are very different, but I loved how close they were and that they balanced each other out. Evander was an easy character to like, charming and sly. He’s one of the few bisexual male characters I’ve come across. There’s an openness to him that the other characters didn’t possess. He had a really interesting relationship with Cassa that I kind of wanted to explore more as it gave us more insight into who she was, but I understand why Soria chose to distance him from her as his relationship with Newt is in the first stages of a romance.

Newt has a really interesting backstory involving his father and his tumultuous relationship with the rebel group Cassa’s parents belonged to. His father has raised Newt to be better than him, but in a very abusive way. Due to his size and demeanor, Newt is used to being underestimated, but of the four, I believe he is the most talented. There is also a fifth character who is important to the story who threw me for a loop when I first picked up this book. Juggling so many different perspectives with an already complicated storyline involving people who could not only see visions of the future, but could also take memories, and see your thoughts, sometimes made the novel hard to follow. I appreciated how intricate the story was, but some of the decisions made by the characters didn’t feel like it carried as much weight as they should have. Part of these characters’ motivation is the people of Eldra, but aside from a handful of scenes, we’re never really introduced to regular folk.

I liked the high stakes in this one, but wish the world outside of the political walls of the citadel had been fleshed out. I will say that Destiny Soria’s Beneath the Citadel has one of the boldest endings I’ve read in a long while and I applaud the gutsy move.

3/5

★★★

The Friday 56: Iron Cast

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“You’ve heard the phrase mind over matter?” she asked. “Well, that doesn’t apply here. When I recite, I give you whatever image I want, but I don’t have to convince you it’s real. Your own imagination does it for me. It’s a rare person who can overcome their own mind, and the better your brain works, the stronger the illusion.

I simply adored Destiny Soria’s debut novel Iron Cast. If you like your historical fiction to come with a bit of a fantasy twist, I’d recommend this one. Here one of the characters is explaining her ability to create an illusion simply by reciting a line from a book. You can read my full review here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

Goodreads Synopsis:

      “It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, they realize how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn.”