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The Boy with Fire

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Dune meets The Poppy War in Aparna Verma’s The Boy with Fire, a glorious yet brutal tour-de-force debut that grapples with the power and manipulation of myth in an Indian-inspired epic fantasy. Yassen Knight was the Arohassin’s most notorious assassin until a horrible accident. Now, he’s on the run from the authorities and his former employer. But when Yassen seeks refuge w Dune meets The Poppy War in Aparna Verma’s The Boy with Fire, a glorious yet brutal tour-de-force debut that grapples with the power and manipulation of myth in an Indian-inspired epic fantasy. Yassen Knight was the Arohassin’s most notorious assassin until a horrible accident. Now, he’s on the run from the authorities and his former employer. But when Yassen seeks refuge with an old friend, he’s offered an irresistible deal: defend the heir of Ravence from the Arohassin, and earn his freedom. Elena Ravence prepares to ascend the throne. Trained since birth in statecraft, warfare, and the desert ways, Elena knows she is ready. She only lacks one thing: the ability to hold Fire. With the coronation only weeks away, she must learn quickly or lose her kingdom. Leo Ravence is not ready to give up the crown. There’s still too much work to be done, too many battles to be won. But when an ancient prophecy threatens to undo his lifetime of work, Leo wages war on the heavens themselves to protect his legacy. The first of The Ravence Trilogy, The Boy with Fire is the tale of a world teetering on the edge of war and prophecy, of fate and betrayal, of man’s irrevocable greed for power — and the sacrifices that must come with it.


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Dune meets The Poppy War in Aparna Verma’s The Boy with Fire, a glorious yet brutal tour-de-force debut that grapples with the power and manipulation of myth in an Indian-inspired epic fantasy. Yassen Knight was the Arohassin’s most notorious assassin until a horrible accident. Now, he’s on the run from the authorities and his former employer. But when Yassen seeks refuge w Dune meets The Poppy War in Aparna Verma’s The Boy with Fire, a glorious yet brutal tour-de-force debut that grapples with the power and manipulation of myth in an Indian-inspired epic fantasy. Yassen Knight was the Arohassin’s most notorious assassin until a horrible accident. Now, he’s on the run from the authorities and his former employer. But when Yassen seeks refuge with an old friend, he’s offered an irresistible deal: defend the heir of Ravence from the Arohassin, and earn his freedom. Elena Ravence prepares to ascend the throne. Trained since birth in statecraft, warfare, and the desert ways, Elena knows she is ready. She only lacks one thing: the ability to hold Fire. With the coronation only weeks away, she must learn quickly or lose her kingdom. Leo Ravence is not ready to give up the crown. There’s still too much work to be done, too many battles to be won. But when an ancient prophecy threatens to undo his lifetime of work, Leo wages war on the heavens themselves to protect his legacy. The first of The Ravence Trilogy, The Boy with Fire is the tale of a world teetering on the edge of war and prophecy, of fate and betrayal, of man’s irrevocable greed for power — and the sacrifices that must come with it.

30 review for The Boy with Fire

  1. 4 out of 5

    Aparna Verma

    Hi everyone! Since this is my book, I'm a bit biased towards the 5-star review, but I wanted to take this chance to talk more about THE BOY WITH FIRE. I started writing this book back in 2017. It was just a spark of an idea that didn't grow into a fire until the pandemic of 2020. The world was crumbling around me. People were dying. I was stuck at home, despairing about how our leaders had failed us. And then something inside me said, the world needs your novel now. Write it. THE BOY WITH FIRE is, Hi everyone! Since this is my book, I'm a bit biased towards the 5-star review, but I wanted to take this chance to talk more about THE BOY WITH FIRE. I started writing this book back in 2017. It was just a spark of an idea that didn't grow into a fire until the pandemic of 2020. The world was crumbling around me. People were dying. I was stuck at home, despairing about how our leaders had failed us. And then something inside me said, the world needs your novel now. Write it. THE BOY WITH FIRE is, at its heart, a story about madness. It shows a world teetering on the edge of war, and the people who push it over. The book gets DARK. It's written in 3 character POVs, and each character must make brutally cruel decisions that put other lives at stake. There's genocide, terrorism, vengeful gods, and man's battle against fate. For the book politics, I was largely inspired by the geopolitical tensions in India, as well as the rise of nationalistic leaders in both America and India. In short, the book is not for the faint of heart. But, there are lighter moments! think: a subtle romance subplot. There are also badass female warriors inspired by the Hindu goddess Kali, a BIPOC cast, and, my favorite, cloud cookies. If you're a baker and you're reading this, please make cloud cookies an actual thing! When writing, I drew inspiration from my own heritage. I was born in India, in the desert of Rajasthan. My mom raised me on the epic tales of the Mahabharat and the Ramayana. While THE BOY WITH FIRE is not an adaptation or retelling of Hindu myths, these stories certainly influenced my world-building. I was also inspired by so many amazing books, so THE BOY WITH FIRE is a magical conglomeration of Dune, The Poppy War, Game of Thrones, and ATLA. If you love these comps, hopefully you'll enjoy THE BOY WITH FIRE. Thank you for reading this. I really, really hope you fall in love with THE BOY WITH FIRE as much as I have. The characters have taken my heart. Hopefully, they'll take yours too. <3 The Boy with Fire

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lexi

    Overview: 👍 Desi inspired fantasy 👍 Multi pov 👍 Enemies to lovers 👍 Slow burn 👍 Morally grey characters 👍 Wrathful women 👍Sad bois What a fantastic debut. This is an indie/small pub that reads like a big-budget new adult. It's warm and inviting enough for YA fans, and mature enough for adult fantasy fans- and really has a little something for everyone. Elena is a princess soon to ascend to the throne. She is unable to wield fire- a skill that defines her family's rule. Yassen is an ex-assassin looking f Overview: 👍 Desi inspired fantasy 👍 Multi pov 👍 Enemies to lovers 👍 Slow burn 👍 Morally grey characters 👍 Wrathful women 👍Sad bois What a fantastic debut. This is an indie/small pub that reads like a big-budget new adult. It's warm and inviting enough for YA fans, and mature enough for adult fantasy fans- and really has a little something for everyone. Elena is a princess soon to ascend to the throne. She is unable to wield fire- a skill that defines her family's rule. Yassen is an ex-assassin looking for a break. He finds that in his childhood friend and partner in crime Samson, in a plot that will lead both of them to court. Meanwhile, war and conflict looms over all of them. As the story progresses, you get a little bit of everything- what starts off as intrigue and court politics evolves into a super exciting and fast-paced adventure fantasy without ever losing that mystery touch. Aparna Verma pulled from a lot of Indian/SEA lore, but her world feels completely unique- a blend of fantasy and sci-fi that exists outside of culture and time. It's easy to get lost in, and its uniqueness begs you to keep digging through it to learn more. The characters all had big personalities- and I consider it an especially impressive feat when you care for the non-POV characters as much as the POVs, no existing character is spared devoted development - both internally and externally. Characters will make questionable choices, and what really hit me was how measured the response of the people around them would be. It was great seeing people react to things like actual humans. The character relationships are drool-worthy- there are so many good friendships and potential romances- all with their own merits. Intensity, codependency, longing, curiosity, and kindred spirits. It's all here. One of the high points of my reading adventure, and it came from such a unique place. The Boy With Fire is proof positive that small pub authors should not be ignored or dismissed. Verma shows a clear understanding of writing what readers want in 2021 while driving a story that is all her own.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lila

    Big thank you to NetGalley for providing this free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! I cannot believe this is a debut novel for Aparna Verma! This high fantasy, inspired by Indian myth, is a thrilling story of redemption. One of my favourite aspects is when each chapter has a quote at the beginning. These quotes happen to be some of the best I've read so far. I want to share some that I noted while reading. "To be forgiven, one must be burned." "And thus the Phoenix rose with eyes afire and a Big thank you to NetGalley for providing this free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! I cannot believe this is a debut novel for Aparna Verma! This high fantasy, inspired by Indian myth, is a thrilling story of redemption. One of my favourite aspects is when each chapter has a quote at the beginning. These quotes happen to be some of the best I've read so far. I want to share some that I noted while reading. "To be forgiven, one must be burned." "And thus the Phoenix rose with eyes afire and a cry of vengeance upon Her lips." "The night when Alabore Ravence built his kingdom, it is said that men feasted on starlight. For it was Alabore Ravence who brought the heavens closer to Sayon, who brought the power and mystique of the Phoenix into a real, solid hearth. The desert may be unforgiving, but it was spun from stardust, and to stardust it will go." "There is no hard line between the servant and the sinner. There is only a soft blur, a delicate edge in which a man can lose himself." The author seamlessly blends the ancient kingdom and its customs along with futuristic technology such as cameras, holopods, pulseguns, hovercars and trains etc. Even such, it doesn't feel different from any other fantasy set in an imagined kingdom. Coming from Croatia, we don't have as big a selection of books, especially when it comes to Fantasy books. Most are with Western European folklore, and the few I've read set in India, seamed like they were written by westerners, for westerners. This book perfectly describes the charms of Ancient India. Reading it, I could feel the heat of the desert sun, smell the spices and jasmine, hear the music of the dhol drums and feel the silk of the sari as if I were wearing it. This novel has several undertones, and the plot isn't as direct as I've gotten used to in the fantasy novels that came out in the last few years. Don't get me wrong, I love it! Books are supposed to be multilayered and complex, with twists and turns guiding us through the story, instead of being simple and direct. How is the audience supposed to engage with the story otherwise? I would recommend this novel to everyone, especially lovers of Sci-Fi & High Fantasy and that is why I give it 5 out of 5 stars. It isn't even out yet, still I cannot wait to read the sequel! I'm practically squealing with excitement.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Darce

    ARC copy provided in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes my rating or review. Also, buddy read with a wonderful little Twitter/Discord book club! 4 solid stars! This was an incredible debut from who I’m sure will become a well-known and widely read author, Aparna Verma. The Boy with Fire was rich with Indian-inspired mythology, next-generation technology and intricately-written characters, and I loved every moment of the book. “The past is binding, but I want to break it…if we car ARC copy provided in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes my rating or review. Also, buddy read with a wonderful little Twitter/Discord book club! 4 solid stars! This was an incredible debut from who I’m sure will become a well-known and widely read author, Aparna Verma. The Boy with Fire was rich with Indian-inspired mythology, next-generation technology and intricately-written characters, and I loved every moment of the book. “The past is binding, but I want to break it…if we carry the burdens of our fathers, then we’ll never know what it means to be free.” (This quote may not be in the published version of this novel, it was copied from the advanced reader’s copy.) Each character in this story had their own struggles, their own pains, their own regrets. I loved learning about the backstory of Yassen, Elena and Leo, but Yassen was the character who completely stole my heart, as I couldn’t help but fall for that dear little cinnamon bun assassin. Elena and Leo both had beautifully written and solely unique personalities, as one sought to control fire and accept her responsibility as future queen, and the other sought to handle the loss of his throne, and it was fascinating to read about both of their decisions and how the power of fire changed them both individually. Samson and Ferma were two other side characters who stuck out, and I really loved the relationship between Ferma and Elena, because hell yeah, girl power! I’m honestly still not sure what to think of Samson, even after finishing the book… I guess we’ll see what happens in the next book in the series, because he’s a very I-could-either-love-or-hate-you kind of character! “Perhaps, then, the boy he had been, the man who he wanted to be, was still here, still within him. Waiting.” (This quote may not be in the published version of this novel, it was copied from the advanced reader’s copy.) One aspect in this book that really stood out was the prose, and the world-building. Both aspects were gorgeously done, and the prose was absolutely stunning in sections, emphasised by the life-like characters and brilliant magic system/world. The Indian-inspired world with royalty, magic and advanced technology that supersedes anything from our current world was a really interesting combination, and one that I was surprised to find worked really well. I look forward to seeing what else the author comes up with in the future! All in all, I really enjoyed this start to a fascinating new series, and that ending was mind-blowing and completely captivating! Thank you to the dear Discord Book Club Server for buddy reading this with me, and thank you to the author and publisher for the ARC copy provided by NetGalley!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shruti

    This book will make your heart bleed and burn, and want you to have it done all over again. A must-read. Talk about an EPIC fantasy debut. The world of Sayon is so captivating and beautiful. I want to run in the dunes of Ravence and take the holotrains through the brass cities of Jantar. Also, the cloud cookies! I want one! The book is written in 3 distinct, character POVs: Yassen Knight, Elena Ravence, and Leo Ravence. Yassen breaks your heart, Elena inspires you to burn your enemies, and Leo jus This book will make your heart bleed and burn, and want you to have it done all over again. A must-read. Talk about an EPIC fantasy debut. The world of Sayon is so captivating and beautiful. I want to run in the dunes of Ravence and take the holotrains through the brass cities of Jantar. Also, the cloud cookies! I want one! The book is written in 3 distinct, character POVs: Yassen Knight, Elena Ravence, and Leo Ravence. Yassen breaks your heart, Elena inspires you to burn your enemies, and Leo just scares you. I have to say that my favorite is (surprisingly) Leo. He's such a dynamic character. You know that what he's doing is WRONG (like hello!!), but you understand WHY he goes batshit crazy. The author said on her Twitter that her book deals with themes of historical trauma and Indian mythology and damn, it REALLY does. The book can be dark and violent at times, but so is history. Every character is drowning in a sea of grief and unbridled rage. Sometimes, I just want to give them a hug, but I'm afraid I'll get burned. All in all, I LOVED this book. I can't wait for the rest of the trilogy. I'm going to call it now - Aparna Verma will be one of the best fantasy writers of our generation. Disclaimer: As a a beta reader, I've read an early copy of the book. I was not asked to write a review. This is my honest opinion.

  6. 5 out of 5

    cherelle (aboltoutofthebook)

    The Boy With Fire, an Indian inspired fantasy pitched as Dune meets The Poppy War, without a doubt was an ambitious debut that promised a myriad of tropes many of us in the bookish community crave, as well as an #OwnVoices perspective more of us gravitate towards. Alas, it disappointed. 。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆ The Boy With Fire follows Elena, a young ruler ready to ascend to the throne, Yassen, an assassin on the run after an accident, as well as Leo, the current emperor of Ravence. Perhaps it was thanks The Boy With Fire, an Indian inspired fantasy pitched as Dune meets The Poppy War, without a doubt was an ambitious debut that promised a myriad of tropes many of us in the bookish community crave, as well as an #OwnVoices perspective more of us gravitate towards. Alas, it disappointed. 。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆ The Boy With Fire follows Elena, a young ruler ready to ascend to the throne, Yassen, an assassin on the run after an accident, as well as Leo, the current emperor of Ravence. Perhaps it was thanks to my surreal expectations with it being compared to my favourite fantasy series of all time: the Poppy War, or perhaps it was because I read it in a few sittings and skimmed through it... whatever it was, I hardly remember anything and 50% in was resisting the temptation of a DNF. 。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆ "The stars would come and go. Fire was eternal." Perhaps I'm being a bit too harsh so let me start off with what I appreciated: The world-building at first seemed a little stagnant, with your typical rival nations, social class difference in each and traditions, however it soon burned brightly (pun not intended) thanks to the prophecies and mythology interwoven into the plot such that the religious aspect played a big part. The phoenix, vengeful gods, raring fire were such a force to be dealt with and truly played a huge role in heightening the tension. "As he stared at the heap of bodies, Leo felt something integral leave him... but as he slowly rose to his feet, he knew it wasn't his fear or his remorse, but his humanity." However, what good is brilliant world-building when you have stale and inconsistent characters? Those that you can barely remember the names of a few days later, or those that didn't even manage to reign in any bit of your heart after hundreds of pages with them? The characterisation was poor, I quickly recognised typical tropes of the royal, the terrible deed character with tragic past so on and so forth... I was expecting some life to be breathed into these tropes, but throughout the book, these characters remain rather stale, and even worse, their character suddenly shifting dramatically to suit the situation which I found rather unbelievable. With instances of death and atrocities that should have visibly change the characters, only repetitiveness and insincerity was offered. Furthermore, the pacing of this story was terrible. I understood that fantasy books tend to take a while to set up and carefully shape the world, but come on who likes a story devoid of any true game-changing action until the 70% mark? I was bored and skimmed through the book, only to come out confused when things finally started to pick up. 。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆ "...the power of myth. Give the people something to believe in. Make it strong enough, fearsome enough, and they would all bow." However, my greatest disappointment in The Boy With Fire would be the lack of themes. Perhaps this is just my expectation for the book, but I felt that this adult fantasy had great potential to examine certain themes such as power, fate and equality. The world-building as well as the religious aspect, not to mention the character dilemmas set this book up beautifully for the exploration of these themes, but all The Boy With Fire did was skim surface level on them. Perhaps I'm being too harsh on a debut the first of the series, but I sorely felt that these themes of power when dealing with the gods as well as the ruling of the kingdom through constructs, fate in the different characters' trajectories as well as equality ingrained into the very model of the world, could have greatly enriched the story, giving it more meaning and purpose. 。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆ "Someone once told me that ghosts are memories that haunt us before we can let them go." Overall, The Boy With Fire was a terrible disappointment for me that I felt had so much more to offer. Despite the brilliant world-building, the stale characters, lack of pacing and most of all the absence of any true depth underneath the typical fantasy plotline, caused it to be an aching let-down for me. Rating: 1.5 Stars Thank you to Netgalley and New Degree Press for an e-ARC of The Boy With Fire in exchange for a sincere review. 。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆ Original Reaction: allow me to wallow in confusion and disappointment 😔 i was expecting great things from the boy with fire, especially with it pitched as dune meet the freaking poppy war...

  7. 4 out of 5

    ale ✧・゚

    thanks to netgalley for the arc i'm all the way here for the indian-inspired fantasy!!! thanks to netgalley for the arc i'm all the way here for the indian-inspired fantasy!!!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ayushi

    Thank you so much to New Degree Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review! 2021 really is the year of amazing South Asian fantasies. What first drew me into The Boy with Fire was the fact that Aparna Verma drew inspiration for one of the races of characters in her book, called the Yumi, from the female warriors the Hindu goddess Kali created (called the chandikas) after her epic battle against the demon Mahishasura. I love a good fantasy inspired by Hindu & Indian mythol Thank you so much to New Degree Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review! 2021 really is the year of amazing South Asian fantasies. What first drew me into The Boy with Fire was the fact that Aparna Verma drew inspiration for one of the races of characters in her book, called the Yumi, from the female warriors the Hindu goddess Kali created (called the chandikas) after her epic battle against the demon Mahishasura. I love a good fantasy inspired by Hindu & Indian mythology and The Boy with Fire did not disappoint! I usually also stay away from Adult fantasy novels because the world-building and magic system is described in such a complex and intricate way that usually flies right over my head, but Aparna Verma did an excellent job of building a detailed world and describing it to the reader in such an effortless way that made it so easy to follow along. Overall, I’d give it 4.5 stars! The Boy with Fire follows three separate characters: Yassen Knight, the Arohassin’s most notorious assassin now on the run from the authorities and his former employer after suffering a horrible accident; Elena Ravence, heir to the Ravence throne; and Leo Ravence; the current king and Elena’s father. Their stories intertwine and connect as Elena and Leo’s kingdom teeters on the edge of war and prophecy. As mentioned, this story follows three characters: Yassen, Elena, and Leo. I love multi-POV books, but I was a little hesitant about how much I would enjoy reading chapters from Leo’s POV considering he’s a 60 year old man obsessed with keeping his crown. However, Leo’s chapters were still so engaging and interesting to follow. The political intrigue in this novel in general was actually really captivating--something that doesn’t normally draw me into fantasy novels. The Boy with Fire is also described as Dune meets The Poppy War, which is honestly so accurate. I love how this novel combines both sci-fi and fantasy elements, again, in an effortless manner. There are also small modern aspects (in the dialogue, articles of clothing, accessories, etc.) that added to the ambiguity of what kind of era the novel takes place in being both a sci-fi and fantasy novel. I think my only minor issue with this book is that the relationship between Yassen and Elena felt a little unconvincing. This does feature a slowburn enemies-to-lovers relationship but the slowburn was a little too slow to the point that actually I didn’t pick up on any romance between the two during the book (I was getting major romance vibes from Elena and another character instead), nor did I believe that Yassen and Elena genuinely cared for one another at the end of the book. The last third of the book, though, was a complete rollercoaster. Everything just started going south even after everything was going so well for our characters. I was also completely shocked by the plot twist/reveal in the epilogue. I thought I had guessed the twist while reading, but turns out I was dead wrong. Definitely consider picking this book up if you are looking for another Adult fantasy, especially one that is South Asian inspired! I can’t wait for everyone to read this book in August :)

  9. 5 out of 5

    halla

    Thank you to NetGalley and New Degree Press for providing me with a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Actual rating: 2.5 / 5 This was an interesting read. The concept of this book was what made me want to read it. Prophecies and mythology are two of the things I love the most in books. I think this is a pretty solid debut, with my favorite parts being the writing and the way Aparna describes everything. The writing is direct but beautiful. It's easy to understand and yet, y Thank you to NetGalley and New Degree Press for providing me with a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Actual rating: 2.5 / 5 This was an interesting read. The concept of this book was what made me want to read it. Prophecies and mythology are two of the things I love the most in books. I think this is a pretty solid debut, with my favorite parts being the writing and the way Aparna describes everything. The writing is direct but beautiful. It's easy to understand and yet, you can feel the emotion of it. I loved the way dialogue and action was written and the worldbuilding seemed so interesting. The start was amazing. I loved the introduction into the worldbuilding and I was really interested in where this could go. But I had a few issues. First of all, the pacing. The first 50% was a little too slow without anything actually happening and when significant things finally start taking place in the second half, they're slowed down with disinteresting events. The last 10% is what was most interesting to me, but it wasn't enough, sadly. The other issue I had were the characters and dynamics. The characters or the dynamics weren't really developed enough for me to actually be invested in any of them. Elena and Leo were interesting, but their POVs felt repetitive. The rest of the cast weren't really developed enough and I felt like I only knew them on a surface level. I didn't really feel connected with the characters. In the end, these things have to do with me than with the author. Like I said, this is a pretty solid debut and I think this author has a lot of potential and especially because the themes of this book were interesting to read about. I'm excited to see what will happen in the rest of the series.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

    A king whose reign is coming to an end. An heir who can’t hold the power of the rulers. An ex assassin who desires freedom. A prophecy that threatens them all. 16+ I don’t know how to put into words how much I loved this book. It was amazing. It’s my new favorite book. If I could give it more starts I would. It has everything that I love in it. It has badass women. Morally grey characters. It’s a fantasy world with sci-fi elements. It’s got political plotting and enemies to lovers and slow burn roma A king whose reign is coming to an end. An heir who can’t hold the power of the rulers. An ex assassin who desires freedom. A prophecy that threatens them all. 16+ I don’t know how to put into words how much I loved this book. It was amazing. It’s my new favorite book. If I could give it more starts I would. It has everything that I love in it. It has badass women. Morally grey characters. It’s a fantasy world with sci-fi elements. It’s got political plotting and enemies to lovers and slow burn romance. The magic system in this books is also so interesting. It’s also inspired by Indian Mythology with so cool, and this world is so interesting. The characters are all amazing. There are so many sides of them that you get to see and it’s done on such an amazing way. They’re all so interesting. They have their own stories and character arcs. None them are simple either they all have different layers and parts of their characters. I love them all so much. If there was one thing he could claim, it was this: that even in the darkness of death, he would know her.” The world building is fantastic. I loved that it’s kind of entwined throughout the entire story. You don’t get an overwhelming amount of information all at once. The twist and turned and surprises are so good. It keeps you guessing the entire time. *Thank you so much to NetGalley and Aparna Verma for this arc in return for an honest review. All of the thoughts in this review are my own!*

  11. 5 out of 5

    Celine

    "Grief is like that, my love, but the stars are here, and they will lend us their eyes. So that we may gaze upon each other when we are apart." Aparna Verma has phenomenally woven a tale of love and betrayal, fear and bravery, and sacrifice and greed into this richly inspired sci-fi fantasy world. Her ability to make readers vividly conjure the world as you go through the pages is hands-down one of the best I've ever experienced. You'll see the Indian culture lavishly embodied in this story, "Grief is like that, my love, but the stars are here, and they will lend us their eyes. So that we may gaze upon each other when we are apart." Aparna Verma has phenomenally woven a tale of love and betrayal, fear and bravery, and sacrifice and greed into this richly inspired sci-fi fantasy world. Her ability to make readers vividly conjure the world as you go through the pages is hands-down one of the best I've ever experienced. You'll see the Indian culture lavishly embodied in this story, but I think Verma has still made this story uniquely hers and hers alone. I found myself rooting and simping for her characters, mourning alongside and for them. The character relationships anchored the love I had for this book, making me smile and breaking my heart. Their imperfections made them real and relatable, I wouldn't have it any other way. The desires of a boy to earn his freedom, a father to impart the best for his daughter, and a future queen to fight for her kingdom.. They will drive you to stay and finish the journey with them hand-in-hand, to burn for them and with them. I believe this is one of the best stories out there as an introductory to adult fantasy for YA readers. It's a stunning debut and I'm excited for the next installment in this trilogy~ Support indie/small pub authors! This is worth every penny imo~

  12. 4 out of 5

    hiba

    while this book wasn't for me, i'm so glad we're getting more desi inspired adult fantasies, the genre is in desperate need. the standouts of this novel are definitely the writing and worldbuilding. the writing is straightforward yet beautiful and really easy to read. the worldbuilding is fairly well done - i just love the concept of prophecies, vengeful gods and dangerous mythological creatures. it's all written in a pretty accessible way too and i'd recommend this book to newbie fantasy reader while this book wasn't for me, i'm so glad we're getting more desi inspired adult fantasies, the genre is in desperate need. the standouts of this novel are definitely the writing and worldbuilding. the writing is straightforward yet beautiful and really easy to read. the worldbuilding is fairly well done - i just love the concept of prophecies, vengeful gods and dangerous mythological creatures. it's all written in a pretty accessible way too and i'd recommend this book to newbie fantasy readers. however, the boy with fire was sadly a poor reading experience for me. my main issue is the fact that i simply didn't care for the characters. they felt interesting in theory but for some reason, i was never emotionally invested in them - i think they desperately needed more development. elena's pov felt really bland and repetitive to me, especially in the first half, and i wish her relationship with ferma was more fleshed out. yassen was a character that i should have liked but he turned out to be fairly generic - also, his relationship with samson felt so empty for all that they were childhood best friends. leo was the most interesting character by far but only in the context of this book. the romance was also pretty stale for me - elena and yassen's entire relationship was dependent on them having these deep personal conversations but without any natural build up to them, so the whole thing just came off as really forced. also they had zero chemistry. basically, the characters didn't engage me enough and the relationships all felt strangely devoid of emotion. leo and elena had the potential for an interesting parent/child dynamic but we simply didn't get enough of it. another issue i have is the pacing. the first 50% is way too slow with hardly anything actually happening. when significant things finally start taking place in the second half, they're bogged down with boring interludes. the last 10% is when i got the most interested but for me to really enjoy a book, i need to be invested from the start, not just at the end. and the climax as a whole was pretty weak. overall, my problems with this book are very personal; i think this author has a lot of potential and i would still recommend this book if you're interested in an indian-inspired adult fantasy with themes of war and religion. rep: indian-coded world + cast, disabled biracial mc thank you to netgalley and the publisher for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    ShelvesByAnwesha

    ♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎ DAMNNNN MAN THIS WAS AWESOME! Top 10 of 2021 ♥️ CW: this book contains burning people, and talk of past sacrifices When I was accepted as a member of the street team, trust me I was ecstatic! And then I started reading the eArc (thanks NetGalley), and I literally fell in love with this book! It was written so beautifully and it had an Indian themed. Indian culture is so beautiful, but unfortunately its very neglected in the fantasy genre. So when I heard about this book, I HAD TO READ I ♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎ DAMNNNN MAN THIS WAS AWESOME! Top 10 of 2021 ♥️ CW: this book contains burning people, and talk of past sacrifices When I was accepted as a member of the street team, trust me I was ecstatic! And then I started reading the eArc (thanks NetGalley), and I literally fell in love with this book! It was written so beautifully and it had an Indian themed. Indian culture is so beautiful, but unfortunately its very neglected in the fantasy genre. So when I heard about this book, I HAD TO READ IT! The characters personalities were so well thought about and they blended together wonderfully! Ferma and Elena we’re definitely my favourites ♥️ but I loved Yassen and Samson and Leo as well! The characters’ thoughts and emotions were so beautifully presented, i felt everything with them! They had such complex personalities, it was honestly a treat to read about them! The imagery in this book was perfect ✨ I was always (pleasantly) surprised at every twist and turn because literally nothing in this book was even remotely predictable! Aparna’s writing style flowed so smoothly, I loved it! Honestly, this doesn’t feel like a debut novel, it feels like its been written by a VERY seasoned author who has been writing for a long time. And the dark feel of it was so awesome! And again, I am highlighting that i LOVED the indian feel of it! And the romance in ittttt mannnnnn was it awesome! Enemies to lovers ♥️ Another thing I loved was that it had morally grey characters and villain protagonists! I’m hooked to these kind of stories now! Villain protagonists are so so so so so good! So overall I REALLY LOVED this book! And I hope that whenever its released, you guys will read it too! I have an interview with a q/a panel with the author on Instagram on 6th August, I hope you guys can join!

  14. 5 out of 5

    gauri

    2.5 stars ambitious concept but did not live up to it for me. i love prophecies and mythology inspired books so that aspect was definitely interesting to read about. the writing is beautifully worded to draw you into Ravence and the worldbuilding is intricately planned. particularly loved the setting of the desert brought to life by the author, like i felt the heat and the sand myself. the magic system, revolving around fire, is a unique addition and made the plot interesting. this is an indian 2.5 stars ambitious concept but did not live up to it for me. i love prophecies and mythology inspired books so that aspect was definitely interesting to read about. the writing is beautifully worded to draw you into Ravence and the worldbuilding is intricately planned. particularly loved the setting of the desert brought to life by the author, like i felt the heat and the sand myself. the magic system, revolving around fire, is a unique addition and made the plot interesting. this is an indian inspired adult fantasy and i'm so happy to see books inspired by my culture! all the indian elements were included so well along with the themes of genocide and colonialism. if you like such fantasies, i'll definitely recommend it to you. my main issue is with the characters and pacing. the first 50/60% were so slow with repetitive chapters, i considered dnf-ing it. i know it takes time to set up the world in an adult fantasy but there wasn't any significant action happening to move the story forward. the pacing and action get better later on but by that time we're near the end of the book. i was really eager to see how the characters and the dynamics develop but i felt like we only got surface level development for them and i wasn't invested them or their backstories and motivations. this underdevelopment made me to not care about the interpersonal relationships either. the boy with fire is said to have an 'enemies to lovers romance' so i'm guessing it refers to elena and yassen's romance but there was no such vibes, especially because their shift in loyalties or beliefs were so quick. i was drawn to leo's character as he's a calculating ruler and his pov did not disappoint. ferma and samson, the characters i was actually invested in, did not get much depth. then again, these problems could be very 'its not you its me' so i'll still recommend this one to people, especially as an indian inspired fantasy by a debut author. i do agree when people say this could easily be read as a young adult fantasy, the only difference being characters over 20. if you like themes of war, religion and politics then you should absolutely give this a shot. thank you to the author and netgalley for the arc!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Faye

    To be forgiven, one must be burned. When I started this book, I thought, “hey, not so bad.” Two days later, I’m lying in my bed, figuring out what to do next because this book broke me. The Boy with Fire exceeded my expectations. The world-building was intricate that despite my mixing up of the terms used all throughout the book, I had no trouble figuring out how Verma’s world works. How she describes her places from the dunes to the Kingdom of Ravence was colorful and rich in detail. Verma did f To be forgiven, one must be burned. When I started this book, I thought, “hey, not so bad.” Two days later, I’m lying in my bed, figuring out what to do next because this book broke me. The Boy with Fire exceeded my expectations. The world-building was intricate that despite my mixing up of the terms used all throughout the book, I had no trouble figuring out how Verma’s world works. How she describes her places from the dunes to the Kingdom of Ravence was colorful and rich in detail. Verma did focus a little more on her world building then, which was not really a problem to me. Although three hundred pages in, that came with the thought of where was is the part that warns this is not for the faint of the heart. Just a few pages after, Verna delivers and here I am. One thing that appalled me from the start was how the story was a mix of mythology and technology (hey, that rhymes). Badass people who wield fire and pulse guns and hoverpads? It boggles my mind all throughout at how Verma made these two work together at this devastatingly beautiful tale. Now, my favorite, morally grey characters! Every character has an ambition of their own, that was made clear all throughout. The characters in play are a stark reminder that the ends do not justify the means. It took me two days to attach to these characters and Verma did a magnificent job of breaking my heart. All in all, the book had ups that made me smile and more downs that kept me going all up until the epilogue. Let me add here that I am not so well-versed with Indian mythology, but this book inspired me to study more about Indian folklore. I am looking forward to its release on August 31, because this book will make you want to go to therapy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Caitlyn

    I’m mindblown 😳 The plot twists , the character development , the mystery and suspense. Everything about this debut novel was amazing. The scenery and world building was beautiful, and the essence of Indian mythology was seen easily. This book went beyond my expectations and I loved the mix of a plot driven and character driven novel. There was no room for confusion but the details were subtle and crafted/woven into the story expertly. I adore this book and every character - there was no charact I’m mindblown 😳 The plot twists , the character development , the mystery and suspense. Everything about this debut novel was amazing. The scenery and world building was beautiful, and the essence of Indian mythology was seen easily. This book went beyond my expectations and I loved the mix of a plot driven and character driven novel. There was no room for confusion but the details were subtle and crafted/woven into the story expertly. I adore this book and every character - there was no character that you could hate because they were all complex and unique. Their histories linked in some way or another. Their pain and feelings so perfectly depicted. How will I wait for the next book? 😭

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rupkatha Bhattacharjee

    "Everything points north, even death." I was provided an e-arc for an honest review. 1. Synopsis: Yassen Knight, an assassin on the run after an accident is given a deal for his freedom : Protect the heir of Ravence from Arohassin, a guild of assassin who were also Yassen's previous employers. Elena Ravence, heir to kingdom of Ravence, is set to be a competent queen, ready to bring out the golden ages of her country, alas she cannot hold fire. She can't even sit in the eternal fire, which is necessa "Everything points north, even death." I was provided an e-arc for an honest review. 1. Synopsis: Yassen Knight, an assassin on the run after an accident is given a deal for his freedom : Protect the heir of Ravence from Arohassin, a guild of assassin who were also Yassen's previous employers. Elena Ravence, heir to kingdom of Ravence, is set to be a competent queen, ready to bring out the golden ages of her country, alas she cannot hold fire. She can't even sit in the eternal fire, which is necessary to do for thee coronation ceremony. Either she learns or she loses the crown. Leo Ravence, King of Ravence, is still skeptical of giving his throne away but when a horrifying fate disrupts his legacy, Leo is ready to set fire to heaven if it brings protection to his future. 2. World-Building: Aparna Verma has not only created a diverse world based on Indian Mythology, she has intricately woven a detailed background, themes of colonialism, genocide and racism in a thoughtful and beautiful manner into the book. She has truly created a living breathing universe with a history worth dying for. 3. Characters: One thing fantasy authors fail to do properly is characters. The author proves this thought completely wrong. Aparna Verma's ability to write raw,realistic and relatable characters is by far the best thing about the book. Not only i liked the 3 protagonists of the book but also fell in love with the side characters. 4. Plot twists and Writing Style: Aparna Verma knows the right balance between flowery language and fast paced action scenes. She writes wonderfully and keeps the reader hooked for all of the book. I couldn't breathe for the last few chapters of the book, it was that good. Final thoughts: I loved this book so much that its unfair that I'll probably need to wait a long time for the next 2 books in the Ravence triology. Out of the box and filled with tropes that aren't used as much or properly executed, the author is incredible and has written a strong debut that is going to change the world of fantasy literature. Also the Indian rep here is amazing, the accurate depiction of our culture is just ❤. No more indian characters with amber eyes or red hair, finally brown characters who are unapologetically brown.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marian

    Thank you so much to NetGalley for providing me with a free earc in exchange of a honest review. Rating: 4.5/5 Aparna Verma’s debut novel follows Elena Ravence as she prepares for her coronation and tries to figure out how to wield fire - an ability required of her as the heir to the kingdom; Leo, Elena’s father, who’s planning a battle against The Phoenix and is not interested in losing; and Yassen, who embarks in a journey with his oldest friend Samson and ends up being thrusted into the heart Thank you so much to NetGalley for providing me with a free earc in exchange of a honest review. Rating: 4.5/5 Aparna Verma’s debut novel follows Elena Ravence as she prepares for her coronation and tries to figure out how to wield fire - an ability required of her as the heir to the kingdom; Leo, Elena’s father, who’s planning a battle against The Phoenix and is not interested in losing; and Yassen, who embarks in a journey with his oldest friend Samson and ends up being thrusted into the hearted Ravence. There are a lot of things that I enjoyed in this book: The worldbuilding and lore of Sayon, which Verma managed to blend aspect from India and SEA countries as well as futuristic technologies, the religion based around The Phoenix, the fire wielding, the yumis!!, how each kingdom presented to us had an affinity to something: Ravence with fire and Jantar with metal. The characters, it’s fair to say that 50% of the book is spent on getting to know the POV characters, how Elena, Leo and Yassen think and rationalize their actions, it’s especially interesting to see how the events of the book actually have an effect on them. The epilogue - does this count? Oh my god I was left speechless I need the sequel NOW My only problem was the pacing, it took half of the book for the events leading up to the climax to happen, the action really takes off at 70% of the book and then it fizzles out up until the last 3 chapters and the epilogue. Overall the boy with fire was a great quick read for fans of fantasy, new adult or those who want to be introduced to the genre.

  19. 5 out of 5

    misbah :)

    I have to start off by saying that the author, Aparna, is so incredibly sweet and i love her so much! A huge thank you to her, Netgalley, and New Degree Press for the e-ARC of The Boy With Fire. The Boy With Fire is inspired by South Asian mythology and centres around South Asian terms and beliefs. That is initially what attracted me to the book because I am South Asian myself, and seeing that representation in a new fantasy trilogy seemed so surreal. As the first book in the Ravence Trilogy, Th I have to start off by saying that the author, Aparna, is so incredibly sweet and i love her so much! A huge thank you to her, Netgalley, and New Degree Press for the e-ARC of The Boy With Fire. The Boy With Fire is inspired by South Asian mythology and centres around South Asian terms and beliefs. That is initially what attracted me to the book because I am South Asian myself, and seeing that representation in a new fantasy trilogy seemed so surreal. As the first book in the Ravence Trilogy, The Boy With Fire was a perfect introduction to this new universe containing villainous characters, humour and wit, badass female protagonists, charming misfits (i love you samson), and a plot twist that will blow your mind. “If there was one thing Yassen could claim, it was this: that even in the darkness of death, he would know her.” WOW. How could you not fall in love with Aparna’s writing and want more after this? Although I’m a sucker for a good enemies-to-lovers romance, as Elena and Yassen are, the romance in this book is, in fact, an undertone, but still so beautifully and elegantly written. (As proven in the quote above) The plot and the complexity of each character is what kept me so hooked from the very first page. The villainous aspects of each kingdom or nation in the universe has you wondering what differentiates right from wrong, and has you teetering on the edge of the question that is: who and what defines good and evil? Who is the decider of all that is good and evil? All in all, I genuinely cannot wait to read the rest of this trilogy, and dive more into this world that I have come so quickly to love.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Channary

    Okay, I will be updating this review once the official release is out because my ARC was unfortunately lacking some of the glorious content 😔✊🏾. If you're tired of reading stories where the lines between good/evil are too clear cut, you will immensely enjoy this. Its easy enough to say that I think we've all grown out of yearning for a High Strung Hero, an either an Irredeemable Evil or an Evil thats how it is due to "society" treating them as an outcast. Of course, I think the latter can be mor Okay, I will be updating this review once the official release is out because my ARC was unfortunately lacking some of the glorious content 😔✊🏾. If you're tired of reading stories where the lines between good/evil are too clear cut, you will immensely enjoy this. Its easy enough to say that I think we've all grown out of yearning for a High Strung Hero, an either an Irredeemable Evil or an Evil thats how it is due to "society" treating them as an outcast. Of course, I think the latter can be more enjoyable when done correctly and the former can be enjoyable when the character is three dimensional. This book has that. You will LOVE the moral dilemma and complexity that plagues each narrator. Yassen and Elena are incredibly fleshed out characters and Leo is absolutely a driving force of ordered chaos. The lore of this book is based upon various Desi mythology (YESSSS) and while it is not meant to represent it traditionally, the Eastern influence is clearly captivating and will be engaging for readers who aren't familiar with the beauty of Desi mythos. Dare I say, The Boy With Fire will open up the gate for more people to embrace sci fi/fantasy with a background and setting based in a Pan-Asian experience. TBWF is marketed as Dune meets the Poppy War. I can definitely see reminiscent of Dune in the socioeconomic and sociopolitical climate and the Poppy War in the exploration of the characters' morality and ethical expositions. That being said, TBWF stands well on its own and provides unique characteristics that blend together with its developing atmosphere. I can say all that with an Incomplete ARC. I just know I will devour the full manuscript. PLEASE read this book. You're soul will thank you.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bookswithcas

    By the end of the book, my heart had crashed and burned. Pun intended. Because I'm punny like that. The Boy With Fire - Aparna Verma ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 "𝘕𝘰 , he wanted to say. 𝘐 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴"😫❤ Badass female characters. Enemies to Lovers. Brilliant writing... need I say more? I don't need to but I will. 🔥 They say The Poppy War meets Dune, well I haven't read those books. So I'd say Star Wars meets Aladdin kinda vibes, could just be me. Except without a lamp but fire instead. Everything about this book lure By the end of the book, my heart had crashed and burned. Pun intended. Because I'm punny like that. The Boy With Fire - Aparna Verma ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 "𝘕𝘰 , he wanted to say. 𝘐 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴"😫❤ Badass female characters. Enemies to Lovers. Brilliant writing... need I say more? I don't need to but I will. 🔥 They say The Poppy War meets Dune, well I haven't read those books. So I'd say Star Wars meets Aladdin kinda vibes, could just be me. Except without a lamp but fire instead. Everything about this book lured me into the story from chapter one. I was so enamored by the indian inspired world building, the characters, the uniqueness of the story itself. The characters are so so well written and complex. Each of them fighting an internal battle while trying to keep up with everything that is going on around them. I predicted who the prophet is because my mind is always in evil places so that's a me thing but it is no way predictable. There was one plot twist that I didnt expect AT ALL and I couldn't comprehend because it hurt my heart. I didnt want it to be real. The slow burn romance between my two favs is... slowwwww burn but when I say it SO worth it, I mean it. Quote me on it. Yelena for life, I will physically fight you. Their romance although brief in the book because there are more important things happening (apparently 🙄) it was SO SO PRECIOUS AND PURE 🥺 ugh, they have my heart (although totally bashed up and bruised and burnt) Also I never really liked Samson, mans was SUS The last few chapters, gosh. Has me feel all sorts of crazy, my heart is gone, burnt, ash and I am ✨not okay✨. I need the next book pronto!! Releases 31 Aug 2021

  22. 5 out of 5

    valeriana kerrigan

    OK WOW, iam literally speechless at how good this book is.Iam from India and I know ,not many books have indian representation.When the author said that this book has indian mythology i was immediately intrigued and OH BOY,did this book surprise me or what..I went through soo many emotions while reading this ,I am soo emotionally spent right now. So, we get 3 pov's in this book and I have to say I LOVED ALL THOSE 3 ,one would say more than I probably should lol.I literally started missing the cha OK WOW, iam literally speechless at how good this book is.Iam from India and I know ,not many books have indian representation.When the author said that this book has indian mythology i was immediately intrigued and OH BOY,did this book surprise me or what..I went through soo many emotions while reading this ,I am soo emotionally spent right now. So, we get 3 pov's in this book and I have to say I LOVED ALL THOSE 3 ,one would say more than I probably should lol.I literally started missing the characters as soon as I finished the books and started rereading it.The plot really felt cohesive and true to its nature.Usually ,one element or the other overshadows another thing,but omg the way aparna verma balanced the character moments and the story was truly admirable.U can see the reason for the things they do despite being like omg..Leo is probably my favourite character lol. Aparna Verma's writing is my most favourite thing ever.Its not overly-complex nor too simple ,its perfect mix of simple and complex that gives a amazing combination of beautiful writing.Safe to say,I WILL be reading anything she puts out from now.100% recommend a boy with fire for YA fans.

  23. 4 out of 5

    nihaarika

    There is no simple way to put it, but I absolutely loved 'The Boy With Fire'. Right from the start, I was completely pulled into the story. Aparna Verma's prose is enchanting and I could easily imagine scenes from the book playing out in front of me, like they were a movie. This book gets really dark at times; and that's one of the things that elevates it for me. It doesn't shy away from showing power and madness and how selfish desires can lead to your own destruction. The book is told in three There is no simple way to put it, but I absolutely loved 'The Boy With Fire'. Right from the start, I was completely pulled into the story. Aparna Verma's prose is enchanting and I could easily imagine scenes from the book playing out in front of me, like they were a movie. This book gets really dark at times; and that's one of the things that elevates it for me. It doesn't shy away from showing power and madness and how selfish desires can lead to your own destruction. The book is told in three point of views; Elena Ravence, her father and king Leo Ravence, and Yassen Knight. Each of these characters are completely distinct from each other and are complex in their own way. I loved them all, but I have to say my favorite was definitely Yassen. And the ending? It broke me. I sort of saw what was coming, but still it was painful and it essentially pulled out my heart and ripped it into two. It's such a fantastic debut and I'm so excited to learn what comes next! Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the e-ARC!

  24. 5 out of 5

    ash

    I adored this book. The characters, the writing, the romance and most of all the amazing indian representation. I rarely get to read about indian main characters and connect to the plot the way I did. I quite literally cannot wait for the next book in this trilogy to be released.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Millie

    Wow, that was quite a ride! First of all, this novel immediately gets bonus points in my eyes for having characters that have a slightly more grey moral code - it's a personal favourite of mine, and this has not one, but three main characters with dubious morals. It's amazing, I love it. Each characters motives are clear and they act in favour of their goals, whether they be material goals or personal growth, even if the path taken to achieve those goals is not necessarily the most morally good o Wow, that was quite a ride! First of all, this novel immediately gets bonus points in my eyes for having characters that have a slightly more grey moral code - it's a personal favourite of mine, and this has not one, but three main characters with dubious morals. It's amazing, I love it. Each characters motives are clear and they act in favour of their goals, whether they be material goals or personal growth, even if the path taken to achieve those goals is not necessarily the most morally good or ethical. But enough of me rambling about morals, lets talk about the characters. Firstly we meet Yassen, an assassin turned royal bodyguard who wants freedom from his past. Despite all that he has done in the past, he is a very easy character to sympathise with, his decisions fit his charater, and he is just generally a very well written character. The second of the main three characters that we meet is Elena, future queen of Ravence, who is a strong-willed princess with plans to peacefully unite her nation and deal with the war with the neighbouring country Jantar. In my opinion, she changes the most throughout the book, and it was fascinating to watch how her attitudes developed. Third is Leo, king of Ravence, and Elena's father. Leo has such a good arc, and his loyalty to his country and Elena is admirable, even if his actions are questionable. Plot was also a really strong point for this novel, it had unexpected twists, action-packed sequences, and those slower character moments that give the ups and downs more impact. Some parts were shocking, and some were able to be predicted, but only because they made sense for the characters to behave that way, so for me, the predictability is not a bad quality, but a testament to the level of care and detail that went into creating the characters, I loved the worldbuiling, from the metal cities of Jantar to the deserts of Ravence, the worship of the Phoenix to the history of the Jantari, all of it was incredible. It's a world I hope to be able to read more because there is definitely so much more to see and learn. As well as this, I loved the way the language changed from one person's perspective to another without hindering the overall flow of the book. This is defintely up there as one of my favourite reads this year!!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    “The path of fire burns everyone in the end.” I always get weirdly anxious reading books that haven’t been recommended to me by someone—even if it SOUNDS amazing, what if I end up not liking it?? Well I can promise you, that is not the case at all with The Boy with Fire by Aparna Verma. This Indian inspired fantasy/sci-fi novel is told from 3 perspectives: Yassen Knight, a notorious assassin who’s defected from the Arohassin; Elena Ravence, the confident heir to the crown, yet who still lacks th “The path of fire burns everyone in the end.” I always get weirdly anxious reading books that haven’t been recommended to me by someone—even if it SOUNDS amazing, what if I end up not liking it?? Well I can promise you, that is not the case at all with The Boy with Fire by Aparna Verma. This Indian inspired fantasy/sci-fi novel is told from 3 perspectives: Yassen Knight, a notorious assassin who’s defected from the Arohassin; Elena Ravence, the confident heir to the crown, yet who still lacks the ability to hold Fire; and Leo Ravence, the king who will stop at (literally) nothing if he believes it will protect his country. Ravence is a desert kingdom, on the brink of war with the neighboring metallic and bright Jantari kingdom. Paper is a rarity, replaced by a culture of holocrons, pulse guns, and game suits. The first few chapters I did struggle with a little, as I was trying to keep up with all the names, places, events, culture, and backstory. (Oh, if only I had discovered the glossary sooner this would have probably been easier 😅) By about chapter 4, I was really piecing everything together and felt super invested in our 3 MCs. The world building is incredibly complex and detailed, but in a way that adds a lot to the story—you can tell Aparna Verma has really thought out every single aspect. The pacing was spot on—there really wasn’t a moment that I was bored. I loved that Fire is so central to everything throughout the book—it burns, destroys, heals, rebuilds, devours, consumes, renews—and this really mirrors the journey of the characters. The last 1/4 of the book had me going “Oh crap” and then “OH $#%&!!” 🤣 This book is seriously great. It’s got slow burn enemies to lovers, morally gray characters, corruption/redemption arcs, multiple POVs, an Indian inspired setting, complex world building, and best of all CLOUD COOKIES! Some people are comparing it to Poppy War meets Dune (haven’t read this YET so I can’t say!), but at times I definitely got vibes of Throne of Glass/Assassins Blade, The Bridge Kingdom, and maybe even a little Cinder? This book is really worth your time and I already want to know when book 2 comes out! Thank you to NetGalley for the eARC of this wonderful book ❤️

  27. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    The Boy with Fire was a fantastic beginning to The Ravence Trilogy. Told in three different perspectives, this book captures motive and ramifications so well. Aparna Verma knows how to create a captivating world and shape fierce, intriguing characters. This journey was so good from start to finish, and I am absolutely looking forward to all of Verma’s future work and the rest of the story! NO SPOILERS Review: Positives: - The world building was amazing. The blend of fantasy with sci-fi elements was The Boy with Fire was a fantastic beginning to The Ravence Trilogy. Told in three different perspectives, this book captures motive and ramifications so well. Aparna Verma knows how to create a captivating world and shape fierce, intriguing characters. This journey was so good from start to finish, and I am absolutely looking forward to all of Verma’s future work and the rest of the story! NO SPOILERS Review: Positives: - The world building was amazing. The blend of fantasy with sci-fi elements was perfect for this book. I could picture the desert, fire, and atmosphere so well. - All 3 characters (Elena, Yassen, and Leo) were interesting and engaging. I enjoyed when they would interact, but I also think the author wrote their moments in solitude very well. I loved having villains as protagonists, people who made terrible decisions and had to face their consequences. - When the plot was good, it was good! The plot twist left me in shock, screaming at what was just revealed. Sometimes I couldn't put the book down because I just needed to know what would happen next. Negatives: - There's a thing authors do that I call ‘the remote’. You know when you're watching a movie and you need to fast forward? As you skip through, you get the basic gist that happens, seeing the scene but not really feeling present in it. When you get to the part you want, the clip plays like normal and you're engaged once more. In books, a scene will occur rapidly or in a short amount of page time. To me it feels like getting the outline of a scene that could have had an indescribable “more”, and I got that feeling a lot during this book. - The characters spent a lot of time trapped in their own thoughts. Yes it's great to learn about their past and the ideas behind the choices they make, but I am someone who craves banter and uninterrupted dialogue. Overall, this was such a great read! I truly can not wait for book two! I would love to give a special shout out to the author, Aparna Verma. Thank you so much for chatting with me and laughing with me as I read the book. You have crafted something wonderful. Thank you NetGalley and the publishing company for this arc!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Stennett

    “Dune meets The Poppy War in Aparna Verma’s The Boy with Fire, a glorious yet brutal tour-de-force debut that grapples with the power and manipulation of myth in an Indian-inspired epic fantasy. Yassen Knight was the Arohassin’s most notorious assassin until a horrible accident. Now, he’s on the run from both the authorities and his former employer. But when Yassen seeks refuge with an old friend, he’s offered an irresistible deal: defend the heir of Ravence from the Arohassin, and earn his freed “Dune meets The Poppy War in Aparna Verma’s The Boy with Fire, a glorious yet brutal tour-de-force debut that grapples with the power and manipulation of myth in an Indian-inspired epic fantasy. Yassen Knight was the Arohassin’s most notorious assassin until a horrible accident. Now, he’s on the run from both the authorities and his former employer. But when Yassen seeks refuge with an old friend, he’s offered an irresistible deal: defend the heir of Ravence from the Arohassin, and earn his freedom. Elena Ravence prepares to ascend the throne. Trained since birth in statecraft, warfare, and the desert ways, Elena knows she is ready. She only lacks one thing: the ability to hold Fire. With the coronation only weeks away, she must learn quickly or lose her kingdom. Leo Ravence is not yet ready to give up the crown. There’s still too much work to be done, too many battles to be won. But when an ancient prophecy threatens to undo his lifetime of work, Leo wages war on the heavens themselves to protect his legacy. The first of The Ravence Trilogy, The Boy with Fire is the tale of a world teetering on the edge of war and prophecy, of fate and betrayal, of man’s irrevocable greed for power — and the sacrifices that must come with it.” ************************************************************************************ “The Phoenix is mysterious in Her ways.” ************************************************************************************ A slow burn world building, with great twists and turns that makes you want to read more. There is also enemies to lovers characters in which I enjoy the most in books. I am surprised it is a Fantasy Debut and Aparna Verna has done a great job with this book! The story is similar to Dune, The Poppy War and Games of Thrones. I give this book 5 Stars because I couldn’t put the book down until the end. Even though it was slow to read, I enjoyed every content of it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Fanna

    May 26, 2021: are we talking about morally grey characters with a commentary on war + religion alongside an enemies to lovers romance? okay, okay, I'll try to be calm till this releases BUT OMG. May 26, 2021: are we talking about morally grey characters with a commentary on war + religion alongside an enemies to lovers romance? okay, okay, I'll try to be calm till this releases BUT OMG.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sheena Marie

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC of this brilliant book by debut author Aparna Verma in exchange for an honest review! If you want a South Asian fantasy with enemies-to-lovers, betrayal, prophecies, and sacrifice, this is the book for you. As a person of Indian descent, this South Asian-inspired fantasy/sci-fi is something I wish I'd read when I was younger. This is the representation that would have changed my life as an impressionable young reader. The worldbuilding is absol Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC of this brilliant book by debut author Aparna Verma in exchange for an honest review! If you want a South Asian fantasy with enemies-to-lovers, betrayal, prophecies, and sacrifice, this is the book for you. As a person of Indian descent, this South Asian-inspired fantasy/sci-fi is something I wish I'd read when I was younger. This is the representation that would have changed my life as an impressionable young reader. The worldbuilding is absolutely beautiful. Verma's descriptions of landscape are visceral, which transported me to the deserts and the mountains along with the characters. The sights, the sounds, and the smells woven in made it so easy for me to fully immerse myself in the world. I especially like that the differences between the regions were made clear, and there was no room for ambiguity. This made the world unique - I can definitely foresee the kingdoms being Verma's signature in the future. As a huge fan of mythology and lore, having the faith of the Phoenix as an omnipresent theme in the book was an excellent touch. The lore brought meaning to the magical abilities of the characters, highlighting the importance of balance in power. Also, the emphasis on the consequences of wielding fire is something I enjoyed reading. It sheds light on the obsession that drives power-hungry characters to madness, proving that having powers is not always a good thing. Onto my favourite part - the characters. It's exceptionally difficult to write characters who are both imperfect and likeable at the same time, but Verma has done just that. Each of her characters are flawed in their own way, but I didn't find myself angry at them for any of their actions. The characters felt real, and make the readers feel seen. All of them have their own roles to play - Elena as the future queen, Leo as her father, Yassen as her guard, Samson as her fiancé, and Ferma as her advisor. Elena is a clear favourite of mine due to how much I could relate to her. The heir of Ravence is headstrong, determined, and willing to do anything to protect her kingdom, which includes rash decisions here and there. I was transfixed during her efforts to wield Fire; my mind blocked out everything to focus on her powers just as she did. Meanwhile, her father Leo is the unhinged parent that will not stop at anything to ensure the safety of his daughter, and with her, the kingdom. Leo Ravence is the epitome of family comes first, and his internal struggles only made his story richer. Then we have Yassen, an assassin tasked with guarding the to-be queen, who comes with his own demons. Yassen is incredibly intelligent, and despite his debilitating injury, he is able to overcome nearly everything that is thrown in his path. Ferma and Samson are intriguing side characters. Where Leo is Elena's father, Ferma takes on a maternal role. As her Spear and her closest friend, Ferma is a true asset to the story. Of course, having the ability to cut people with her hair only made her more lovable. Samson proved to be the greatest surprise of all. The beloved general and dashing fiancé is alluring from his first mention, and there is a lot more to him than meets the eye. Overall, all the elements come together to form a beautiful and gut-wrenching tale of faith, thrones, loyalty, and love. My smiles turned to sobs and screams while reading, and as any reader knows, that's the mark of a great book. While the wait after that epilogue will be painful, I truly look forward to reading the rest of the Ravence trilogy! 5 out of 5 stars!

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