by Elise Kova
Series: Air Awakens #2
Published on November 19, 2015 by Silver Wing Press
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Soldier... Sorcerer... Savior... Who is Vhalla Yarl?
Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?
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Oh my goodness WOW. I always get anxious when it comes to sequels because more often than not they suffer quite severely from second book syndrome. The plot falls flat, the characters lose their personalities and shift toward cliches, and there’s a lot of fluff.
Fire Falling had none of that.
This book is on the move from start to finish. After the end of Air Awakens, Vhalla is off to the Northern front as a soldier as punishment. It’s time she realizes her power and also begins to train as a true sorcerer. Not to mention some one-on-one time with a certain fire lord.
I’d say it moves at a fairly similar pace from book one, with less set-up as a lot of the groundwork of the world has already been established. Kova knows how to keep the ebb and flow of the story to ensure you can’t stop reading from start to finish. But she doesn’t let the characters slack off for the plot to shine. Both are intertwined so beautifully that you can’t pull one from the other.
I think Vhalla really grew as a character from the budding young sorcerer we met before. She’s learning that magic isn’t something to fear and comes to rely on it more and more. But she’s just so…human! She makes mistakes and has doubts and not only knows when to follow but when to lead. Vhalla is the heroine I want young girls to look up to when they’re reading. This is the kind of character that makes a series spectacular.
And, of course, my new favorite ship of all ships keeps on going. Fire Falling was absolute torture to read. The slow burn of their romance had me edging closer and closer just waiting for something to happen. Talk. About. Frustrating. In the good way, though, I promise. I also really like that Vhalla is Prince Aldrik’s student but also his equal in some regards. He doesn’t treat her as someone “lesser” because of her rank below him or the fact that she’s just learning magic. Though I could have done with less of her questioning whether he was into her or not whenever someone brought it up. Like, girl, you know.
Aldrik has his flaws. He doesn’t always know how to handle his relationship with Vhalla both as a student and soldier, as well as potentially something more. He’s at constant war between his heart and duty, and it shows. When it comes down to it, his people have to win out and he recognizes it regardless of what it means for his happiness. But he’s also caring and respected. He is a true leader but also a good friend for the few he’s allowed himself to trust.
Now while Vhalla’s romantic relationship was quickly moving with full-blown sails, so were her friendships. I really loved the strong relationship between Vhalla and Larel. They gave me serious big sister vibes and Larel became integral to her life even if she was there as nothing more than support when she needed it. Then there’s Fritz, who reminds me a bit of the Fitz-Simmons duo from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He loves both girls dearly and his character is simply endearing.
…and then there’s the ending.
Elise Kova will take your heart, rip it out of your chest, squeeze it dry, stomp on it, then stick it back in and expect you to survive. Yes, that was graphic. Yes, you will feel this pain. Because what’s worse is I read this knowing there are 3 more books and I don’t know if I can go on to read them with THAT cliffhanger.
Just…make sure you have Earth’s End at the ready (or even Tales from the Front if you like novellas). Trust me. You’ll thank me later.
Fans of the Avatar: The Last Airbender show and Graceling by Kristin Cashore (and really, anyone who loves a good YA fantasy with plenty of action, romance, and amazing characters) will love this one! If you had any doubts about reading this series from my Air Awakens review (I hope you don’t but just in case), y’all need to read these books. Now. Please? We can fangirl together?