Book Reviews

Review: Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova

I’ve been looking forward to Incendiary since I heard about it! Zoraida Córdova is one of my favorite authors and I adore the Labyrinth Lost series. Unfortunately, while I liked a lot of elements in Incendiary, I was ultimately searching for a little more. I am still very excited about the sequel, but whether it was a product of my high hopes, Incendiary left me needing just a little more.


I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.

Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.

Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace.

When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez’s top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.

But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: torture

Incendiary is a story about freedom, forgiveness, and revenge. I guess what can accurately sum up my experiences reading Incendiary, was that I liked all the elements, but just wanted more. Granted, by the end of the book it was really heating up and getting ready for book two, but even then, I wanted more explanation of the magic system. They live in a world where people are hunted and persecuted for their magic. We see how it impacts the Whispers, the rebel spies, but I wish we had seen more instances of how it changes life for everyone.

While Incendiary has action, it felt very character focused to me. Renata’s character is independent and full of secrets. Throughout Incendiary, we are shown what her independence costs her and both asked whether she wants to continue this way. I wanted to love Renata so much. Her personality is guarded and she almost has these hidden doors within herself. Can you imagine the weight of holding all these memories in your mind? It reminded me of “Dollhouse” in that sense! I also loved that while she was part of the rebellion, she wasn’t like a super assassin.

Renata seemed to balance having power, but also feeling the burden of that power. She felt powerful, but also not like one of those heroines who can lift weights and also are skilled in combat. Renata felt realistic, hurting, and unsure who she could trust. But I felt like I didn’t have enough of the character to really connect with something specific.


However, my main issue with Incendiary was that I felt like it was one long lead up and I didn’t see the main arc of the story until pretty late. In Incendiary we witness a society that views people as weapons, seeing them only for what they can do, and how they could rebel. Secrets emerge and we don’t know who we can trust or how we can achieve this goal.

Would I read the next one? Absolutely. In about the last third of Incendiary, the action ramped up and I really want to see what happens in the next! I just wish that this first one had hooked me as much as I wanted. Find Incendiary on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.


What other first books did you not love, but whose sequel you adored?

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