The cover of this book is beautiful! Unfortunately…I didn’t enjoy the content quite as much. It’s definitely more romance driven than I usually prefer and I had some real issues with the character development. However, if you’re a fan of books where the romance drives the plot/development rather than acting as a compliment to the main action of the text, this might be just what you’re looking for! It’s just not my cup of tea. 🙂
Kathryn Purdie’s Burning Glass follows Sonya, a young woman who has the gift of feeling what those around her feel. After an tragic accident and a royal assassination, Sonya is tasked with protecting the emperor as his Sovereign Auraseer, feeling for any danger in the emotions of the palace’s many occupants and guests. As she struggles to control her power and carryout her duty, Sonya must decide whether ally herself with the unpredictable (but conveniently young and charming) Emperor, or the Crown Prince, his younger brother.
I was pretty drawn in from the first few pages. I liked that it was a bit confusing at first, letting the reader see how the auraseer’s abilities work in the moment, rather than beginning with expository prose. I also liked that the heroine makes a mistake that has real consequences (more on that later, because it’s not actually true, it just seemed like it at first). And give me a broody mysterious possible love interest right form the start any day!
However, the promises did not carry through to the end.
I am so tired of lonely girls love at first sight. Can we all just please stop? I can handle a love triangle. I mostly expect it when I pick up a YA with some romance, but I can’t do the lonely girl who falls in love with the first people who are nice to her. It’s just too much. To be fair, I can enjoy some fantasy-lite romance and am willing to let go and enjoy. If that’s your thing, you might really like this book. However, there is no real complexity of feeling here to keep the romance grounded. Yes, it takes her a bit of time to figure out her feelings, but the characters feel strong things super quickly, and they can seemingly snap in and out of those feelings at will, as if making an intellectual decision automatically changes your heart.
On a positive note, I was pretty excited to see a heroine who was not afraid of her desire. I get that YA is not NA is not Adult, however, its nice to see a representation of a young woman who is not ashamed to feel physical desire, recognizes it for what it is and is not (love), and struggles with whether to act on it or not. At times it’s ambiguous whether the desire she feels is actually her desire or the mens’, which ruins it a little bit for me, but still a step in the right direction!
I liked the gesture toward politics in the novel, but it wasn’t really developed. It was a black and white, good and bad, easy to see division. If the plot was more focused on politics with a romance subplot, I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more. Instead, the romance is really the driving force of the book, which is fine, except that it wasn’t naturally developing enough to carry the entire book.
Returning to my above comment about consequences: I thought based on the opening of the book there would be real consequences for actions, but it doesn’t really play out that way, which is super disappointing. Because of this, I don’t feel like we get to see Sonya develop as Sonya, only in relationship to the men around her.
Finally, and honestly, (and maybe a spoiler so if you’re sensitive about knowing too much stop here!) I really don’t see how this will develop into multiple books. One of the things I truly disliked about this book was the flattening of a somewhat complex and interesting villain at the end of the novel. Things don’t need to be so resolved for the heroine to make a decision.
All that being said, I read this quickly and wanted to know what happened next. Burning Glass definitely isn’t terrible, it’s just a little too on the lite side of fantasy lite for me. But I might still read the next one, just to see where it goes!
2.5/5 golden snitches