Happy Wednesday Bibliofriends,
When I came across and read the blurb for Ignite the Sun by Hanna C. Howard whilst scrolling through Netgalley, my interest was immediately piqued from the mention of a witch queen and the battle between darkness and light so I knew I had to click that ‘read now’ button.
Big thanks to NetGalley, Blink YA Books and Hanna C. Howard for my e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
Book: Ignite the Sun by Hannah C. Howard
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: August 18th 2020
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Once upon a time, there was something called the sun…
Sixteen year-old Siria Nightingale has never seen the sun. The light is dangerous, according to Queen Iyzabel, an evil witch who has shrouded the kingdom in shadow.
Siria has always hated the darkness and revels in the stories of the light-filled old days that she hears from her best friend and his grandfather. Besides them, nobody else understands her fascination with the sun, especially not her strict and demanding parents. Siria’s need to please them is greater than her fear of the dark, and so she heads to the royal city—the very center of the darkness—for a chance at a place in Queen Iyzabel’s court.
But what Siria discovers at the Choosing Ball will send her on a quest that could bring back the Light—or doom the kingdom to shadow forever. Accompanied by a ragtag group of rebels, she sets her course for the North, toward the last vestiges of the sun.
Ignite the Sun is a delightful debut novel from Hanna Howard all about the battle between light and the dark. I enjoyed the idea in the plot that the sun had effectively been ‘cancelled’ by the witch-queen Iyzabel (you can tell I’ve been spending a little too much time on Twitter recently) and the land of Terra-Volat had been plunged into a darkness reminiscent of those places at the extremes of Earth where some days never see a sunrise or sunset. It also reminded me a little of those grey days in Britain where you know the sun is up there somewhere but it just doesn’t make an appearance – I could definitely relate to that!
This concept tied in nicely with the fables and history of Luminor and Terra-Volat. These little nuggets of the past were exciting parts of the story and helped me to understand the wider world-building of the setting and the motivations of many of the characters. It added an original dimension to a storyline which is essentially the main thread of many fantasy stories being the battle of good against evil. Howard’s take on how a witch becomes a witch and what attributes/items creatures relied upon to use their magic was really interesting.
I have to admit, I found the main character Siria slightly annoying towards the start of the novel – she came across as very pampered and whiny however it seems this is part of the character journey that she is meant to go through – if that’s what the author meant to do then it was certainly a credit to her character writing! Without giving away spoilers, Siria does undergo a fairly hefty transformation and towards the last third of the novel she gains a purpose, determination and resilience which made me warm to her a lot more. What I will say for that first part of Siria’s character is: thank god for Merrall! She is the perfect yin to Siria’s yang and nicely balances out the more naive and immature parts of Siria’s nature!
The ‘ragtag group of rebels’ and the relationships between them are what truly made this novel shine and is probably my favourite part of the whole story. Comprising of nymphs, naiads, banshees, elves and mages, this cast of characters gave the story classical fantasy/folklore vibes and helped to highlight the mantra that our differences are what make us all special and it is only through coming together that we can truly win against the shadows of darkness.
I always like to see the aftermath of finale events but it seemed that a majority of the novel was spent on the run and the ending came about incredibly rapidly. At times, Ignite the Sun was a little trope-tastic in some places. There was the one bed trope, dead parents trope, disguised as a male trope and on-the-run trope in various guises and forms… due to this, it became slightly predictable in places, but that may be because I read an awful lot of fantasy fiction nowadays. Not all of my predictions came off, or happened in ways I expected, however the overall plot kept me interested and invested in finding out what was going to happen to the characters I was growing to like more and more throughout the story.
‘…the range of colour on the mountain – the hues of deep purple, rich charcoal and slate greys, shadowy greens and dark blues that compromised such towering heights – was a visual symphony.’
Merrall: ‘”I expected you to be crying by now,’ she said. ‘Well done. You are already braver than yesterday.”‘
‘Bigger than trees, bigger than mountains, and as I gazed up at it – this infinity of glowing colour and fathomless space – I saw with sudden clarity that I was a mere speck on the endless scroll of time.’
Why Should I Read This?
For the brilliant assortment of characters and creatures straight out of a folklore compendium.
For an interesting and inventive plot-line which literally pits light against dark.
For the refreshing yet classical twist that this debut YA fantasy standalone presents.
If you love the more traditional elements of fantasy fiction then you’re bound to find something to enjoy and love in Ignite the Sun.