Roar (Stormheart #1) by Cora Carmack

If you enjoy incredibly vast world-building, magic systems, found families, with a dash of morally grey and corrupt characters then you need to pick this one up immediately!

About the Book

Publisher: Tor Teen  |  Release Date: June 13, 2017  |  Pages: 380
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy  |  Format: Hardcover  |  Source: Purchased

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

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My Review

My favorite reading experiences are when a book takes me by complete surprise. It isn’t often that I pick up a book without any influence from other readers, but I picked Roar up at just the right time. I don’t even know how to write this review, which is probably why I spent half an hour contemplating which Stormling affinity I would have (⛈️ Skyfire, if you must know). If you enjoy incredibly vast world-building, magic systems, found families, with a dash of morally grey and corrupt characters then you need to pick this one up immediately!

“Our world is brutal, but you are brave enough to face it.”

Roar is told primarily in the third-person perspective of Aurora Pavan, the 18-year-old heir to one of the most powerful Stormling families in Caelira. Only she doesn’t have the magic which keeps her family in power, trapping her in a cage of fear with little options.

“She spent every moment of every day yearning for adventure, and she would gladly take it from his hands.”

Too often I find the Sheltered Princess Character indignant and bratty, but Rora exhibits an eagerness to learn from everyone that is refreshing. Rather than balk at her worldview being challenged, she takes it as an opportunity for new experiences. She grew up sheltered in the palace for fear that her lack of Stormling magic would be discovered, dreaming of going on adventures and seeing the world beyond Pavan’s walls. She’s brave and fiercely independent, but also vulnerable.

“She would have to learn from the experiences of others instead of just her own.”

As much as Rora’s story is about her learning more about the world, it is also about her gaining agency over herself. Her decision to join the storm hunters on the surface is her way to earn magic so she can keep her kingdom without having to get married, but it also her way of taking control of her life.

“As a child, she had belonged to her parents, then as new heir, she had belonged to the kingdom. When her magic never manifested, her life belonged to her secrets. She had hoped that when all was said and done, she could finally belong to herself.”

Where Rora is fearlessly independent and holds a youthful idealism, her storm hunter mentor Locke is battle-hardened and hardened by a hard life full of loss. He’s tall, dark, and dreamy with long hair and a scar in his eyebrow (a la Spike). What can I say? I have a type. Watching both of their walls come down and open up to each other was one of the most beautiful things to read.

“If she were a storm, she could destroy him, and he would never lift a finger to protect himself.”

As a rule, I am over the Alpha Protector Male, so I would be remiss to not touch on the love interests’ propensity towards possessiveness. A lot of the tension comes from the Love Interest’s desire to protect Rora rather than trusting that she can take care of herself (which she proves time and time again). But what I did appreciate was his coming to terms with her independence, and I think falling in love with her because of it. You can see his language and thoughts surrounding her evolve as she challenges his possessiveness, which I found to be a rather nuanced look at how toxic masculinity can evolve well challenged (provided the person is willing).

Honestly, I could write essays about how much I love the characters, even the morally grey Cassius.  It’s no secret that I adore ragtag found families, and this group of hunters shares the playful banter that I can’t get enough of. I honestly lost count of the number of times that I laughed out loud and their back-and-forth teasing. While the majority of page-time is dedicated to Rora and Locke / Cassius, each of the supporting characters felt fully developed with their own motivations. Each character is complicated with multiple layers, and I felt connected to all of them . . . even Cassius, because there is more there than what meets the eye. Despite this, he is problematic and I don’t think that the book implies otherwise; I appreciate that Rora extricated herself from that situation. I am really excited to see what happens next in Rage because everything and everyone is set up well to dive right into the action.

“Storms are the greatest predators in existence because they can destroy you with their savage strength or enthrall you with their terrible beauty.”

The world-building is intriguing and doled out slowly rather than all at once. The world that Carmack crafted is remarkable, and I relished in the intricate magic system. I’ll admit that I was a fair bit confused about how Stormling magic works and its limits, but I think that is done in large part because Rora knows so little. Once she meets up with Locke and the others, the magic system is explained in a lot more detail rather than as a matter-of-fact concept.

This book is beautifully written without falling into purple prose, is fast-paced, and action-packed. The story is excellently plotted with rising action that builds up to the very end of the book and sets up the sequel nicely while also having a semblance of closure. I was fully immersed in Rora’s journey, but while the occasional Cassius or Novaya section to give an update on the happenings in Pavan didn’t feel disjointed or pull me out of the story which often happens to me with multiple POV narratives. Unfortunately, by the time that I reached the end of the book I was left feeling that the Cassius and Novaya sections didn’t add anything to the story. I almost wonder if the ending would have been more of a shock had the reader also been unaware of what happened since she left.

Overall, I loved Roar and am exceedingly excited for Rage. Carmack crafted an intricately fascinating world where storms ravage the land and people have the power to control them. If you enjoy stories with found families, an amazing cast of characters and a well-plotted story that builds up to what I expect will be a solid sequel, I cannot recommend this book enough!

CONTENT WARNINGS: death, violence

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!

21 Comments

  1. evelynreads1

    July 14, 2019 at 11:31 AM

    Great review! I really want to pick this one up!

    (www.evelynreads.com)

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 4:21 PM

      Thank you, and you should! I am not sure where you live, but the book is almost always on Book Outlet for really affordable, and the ebook is on sale for $1.99 until the end of the month!

  2. TheCaffeinatedReader

    July 14, 2019 at 1:43 PM

    …And another one added. This one sounds like something I’ll want to pick up sooner than later given that I’m reading the Oremere trilogy currently, and I feel like this would just continue my YA fantasy marathon I’ve accidentally entered lol. Ugh. Fantastic review but omg my tbr lol

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 4:38 PM

      NOW IS THE TIME, Haley! The second book comes out next month AND the ebook is on sale until the end of July. I would apologize to your TBR, but I won’t because I adored this one.

  3. northernplunder

    July 15, 2019 at 3:57 PM

    i tidied my shelves yesterday and found that i do actually own this book which is why i was v excited to see this review. so thrilled to see its worth my time

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 4:47 PM

      that’s ironic because that is how I wound up picking this book up! I found it in my shelves and was like “huh okay let’s try it” and fell in love with it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

  4. Rain

    July 15, 2019 at 10:20 PM

    Can I just say that I can’t get enough of your blog design??? IT’S SO GORGEOUS THAT MY EYES ARE WATERING.

    Anyway, this sounds like a really interesting book! I’m down for books with unique magic systems and this seems to be one of them. Your love for the characters also made me want to meet and read about them. I hope I can read this one soon and scream with you about it.

    Great review as always, Kal! 💕

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 4:53 PM

      AHH thank you so much, Rain! I am so happy you love the design as much as I do!!!

      It is a really cool world and I enjoyed the book so much, you def should read it! I think the ebook is still on sale for $1.99 *tempts*

  5. Aimee (Aimee, Always)

    July 16, 2019 at 1:49 AM

    I’ve read ~one~ Cora Carmack book in the past and really didn’t enjoy it, but I’d love to give this one a shot. I especially love that you mentioned the heroine really wanting to learn and grow, and that’s just fantastic. Definitely into the fantastic world-building as well. 😍 So glad you enjoyed this one!

    ❤ Aimee @ Aimee, Always

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 4:56 PM

      AIMEE, it is so good to see you again! I HAVE MISSED YOU. This was the first book from the author I read so I can’t compare to the style of her other titles, but I would recommend giving it a try if it sounds interesting. It’s a super fast read.

  6. Michelle

    July 16, 2019 at 2:10 AM

    I’ve had this book for ages! I think it was included in a Fairyloot box.. back was it was just released. I can’t believe I haven’t read it! I think back when it was just released there were a couple of bad reviews and that’s why I decided to leave it at that time. But since you loved it so much, I’m going to give it another chance! Awesome review Kal <3

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 4:58 PM

      I also had the book for ages and it took me like 2 years to pick it up, but I am glad I did! I know there are some polarizing views when it comes to the LI (Must Protecc Alpha Male), and while I can see some of the criticism I don’t see it the same way. Let me know what you think!!!

  7. dbsguidetothegalaxy

    July 16, 2019 at 5:08 AM

    This book is definitely on my to read list! And reading your review maakes me more interested in reading it! I love magic books, especially if they have different powers. Fantastic review, Kal!

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 5:00 PM

      I am also a sucker for magic books, and I especially loved magic earned and political machinations… this one just hit a lot of buttons for me. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did, DB!

      1. dbsguidetothegalaxy

        July 28, 2019 at 7:54 PM

        I think I’m more of a magic-born and then learn more, but I do like the appeal of magic-earned.

  8. Heather @ The Frozen Library

    July 16, 2019 at 10:45 PM

    This book sounds SO COOL! It’s been on my TBR for a while, but I was kinda on the fence about it cuz I also heard some bad things? But I’m glad you liked it! 🙂

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 5:13 PM

      Yea, some people don’t like the LI (alpha male). While I didn’t see it as problematic personally, I can see where their complaints come from. But overall I found this book to be such a fun read and a cool world.

  9. waytoofantasy

    July 17, 2019 at 5:27 PM

    Well, I’m intrigued. I don’t think I’d heard of this one much before. Glad you loved it, I will have to see about adding it to my TBR. 😀

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 5:40 PM

      Muahahaha, payback for all the books that got added onto my TBR from your reviews!

      1. waytoofantasy

        July 28, 2019 at 5:49 PM

        Fair enough 😀

  10. My favourite blog posts of July 2019! | the paperback piano

    July 30, 2019 at 11:08 PM

    […] Kal bumped Roar up my TBR with her excellent review. […]

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