Review: Flamebringer by Elle Katharine White
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars
Series: Book 3 of Heartstone
Publisher: Paperback: Harper Voyager | Audiobook: HarperAudio (November 12, 2019)
Length: Paperback: 368 pages | Audiobook: 10 hrs and 40 mins
Narrator: Billie Fulford-Brown
It’s amazing to look back and see how far this series has come. What began as a fantasy retelling of Pride & Prejudice has flourished and matured into a trilogy that is a phenomenon in its own right. Ever since Elle Katharine White started injecting more original ideas into the world of Heartstone, expanding the lore and enriching the characters and story with her own personal touch, things have started to really take off.
Flamebringer, the third and final volume, begins with Aliza and Alastair heading off into the wilderness in pursuit of Wydrick, the sworn enemy of the Daireds. Reanimated by a ghast, Wydrick is now immortal and more powerful than ever, and he has a dire warning for our characters.
In this world of magic and monsters, there are creatures more terrible than you can ever imagine. In the heart of the Old Wilds, Aliza and Alistair stumble upon an ancient sanctum holding secrets older than time itself. Everything they know and love is now being threatened by a terrible evil, newly awakened and ready to wreak havoc. Under its direction, bloodthirsty hordes of Tekari and Ghasts are gathering outside the capital of Edonarle and preparing to attack.
Racing against time to warn the city, our couple traveling on the dragon Akarra must brave the elements and other dangers of the wilds. But even if by some miracle they manage to survive the coming onslaught, there’s still the messy matter of politics to contend with. The word is that an ambassador from the south has been dispatched at the behest of the elusive Silent King, and it is anyone’s guess what his next move will be.
There’s a bit of everything in this book, including action, adventure, mystery, and a strong dose of political intrigue. There’s another noticeable shift here in terms of focus, as this time, the author has decided to go all in on the story. Of the three books, Flamebringer feels the most tightly plotted, whisking readers off on this epic journey packed to the gills with edge-of-your-seat battle scenes and shocking watershed moments—all of it building up to a finale you won’t soon forget.
At the same time, White is careful not to neglect the character development amidst all this furious action. The relationship between Aliza and Alistair is central to this series, and thankfully this aspect continues to grow and evolve as we watch their marriage go through its ups and downs. Despite the novel’s aggressive pace, we do get the occasional opportunity to catch our breath and explore Aliza’s inner thoughts during these brief moments of respite. She is still dealing with a lot of grief and guilt over past losses, and even though Aliza has nothing but love for her family, some of her feelings are causing unwanted tensions between her and her sister.
Quite honestly, I was surprised to find such a heavy emotional component in such a fast-paced book. But at the same time, having been with these characters since the beginning, I feel a closeness to them, especially to Aliza who wears her heart on her sleeve despite the rules of etiquette and social manners being so ingrained in her life. I really felt for her, and throughout the novel there were a few intensely raw moments that stood out for me, where I truly believe the author wrote straight from the heart.
While a part of me is tempted to say Flamebringer could have used more dragons, at the same time, I think we all know the series has moved far beyond that. All in all, I couldn’t be happier with the way this book ended. It’s hard to believe such a sensational epic journey grew out of a book like Heartstone, but such surprises are often the best kind. Needless to say, I’m mighty glad we broke out of the standard retelling mold, and I look forward to seeing all the other ways Elle Katharine White will stretch her creativity muscles in the future. Overall, I highly recommend this trio of books for anyone who enjoys a good balance of fantasy, romance, and intrigue!