Featured Review: Soul of Cinder (Bree Barton)
About This Book:
The shattering conclusion to Bree Barton’s Heart of Thorns trilogy challenges why we grieve, whom we love—and how to mend a broken heart. This fiercely feminist YA series is a must-read for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Laini Taylor!
Prince Quin has returned to the river kingdom, ready to spearhead a rebellion and reclaim the throne. He vows to destroy Mia, Pilar, and Angelyne if they oppose him—even if he must use his newfound magic to set the world aflame.
Across the four kingdoms, the elements have been tipped askew. Volcanoes erupt, glaciers collapse, and cities sink into the western sands. After losing Angie, Mia and Pilar journey to the glass kingdom to seek help, though soon their fragile bonds of sisterhood begin to fray.
Mia’s sensations are creeping back, and with them, a searing grief. Pilar, terrified of being broken, once again seeks comfort in her fists. But when they hear rumors of a misty island that promises to erase all pain, they suddenly find themselves with an answer—if they are willing to pay the cost.
*Review Contributed by Olivia Farr, Staff Reviewer*
SOUL OF CINDER is an intriguing conclusion to a dark YA fantasy trilogy. While in the first book we witnessed Mia's point-of-view and that was augmented with Pilar's point-of-view in the second, in this final book, we bear witness to Mia, Pilar, and Quin. Mia and Pilar have left behind the snow kingdom in ruins and have traveled to a place in the glass kingdom that promises healing as wanderers are often on their way to the island of forgetting.
Mia and Pilar feel broken by life, the tough decisions they've made, and the loved ones they have lost along the way. Quin is equally as broken, the powerlessness he has felt exploding out of him. In a world where the imbalance of power and pain creates magic, their abilities are manifestations of their suffering. Each is on a course to destruction or healing without really knowing where they will land.
What I loved: This finale is highly readable, and I loved the new characters and situations that provide more thought-provoking questions about morality. Each of the main characters is on the precipice of discovering who they will be and what they want to be - sometimes filled with the lies they have told themselves. I found these journeys to self-discovery to be quite meaningful, particularly the lessons learned along the way. It gets pretty dark at times, but so are the events that have led them to this point. There are a lot of scenes that would make this an excellent book for a group to discuss - there are a lot of layers and intriguing themes toward these powerful self-actualizations.
What left me wanting more: There are some characters from earlier books that just disappear, and it seemed odd to completely forget them here (maybe they likely met their end at the conclusion of the second book). There has been fluctuating romances throughout the books in a way that made them seem surface-level, but then they suddenly reappear at the end of this book, and I found it confusing. I would have wanted more of the continued connections to buy into the way it came together - it felt sudden and a bit like placing a conclusion bow on the end that didn't need to be there.
Final verdict: SOUL OF CINDER is a solid conclusion to a thought-provoking, dark YA fantasy. Recommend for fans of THE GRACE YEAR, ASH PRINCESS, and/or GRACE AND FURY.
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