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Hibiscus Daughter #1

Wicked Like a Wildfire

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“Lush. Delicious. Bewildering. And darkly magical. Popovic has created a world that you tumble into from the very first words and wish you could stay in forever.” —Evelyn Skye, author of The Crown's Game

Wicked Like a Wildfire was like devouring a succulent fairy fruit—it will rob your time, settle into your dreams, and leave you starving for more.” —Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen

Fans of Holly Black and Leigh Bardugo will be bewitched by Lana Popovic's debut YA fantasy novel about a bargain that binds the fates—and hearts—of twin sisters to a force larger than life.

All the women in Iris and Malina’s family have the unique magical ability or “gleam” to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love. 

But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever?

Wicked Like a Wildfire is the first in a two-book series. Readers will be rapt with anticipation for the sequel.

432 pages, ebook

First published August 15, 2017

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About the author

Lana Popović

4 books689 followers
Lana Popović's debut YA contemporary fantasy, WICKED LIKE A WILDFIRE, was published by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins in August 2017. Lana studied psychology and literature at Yale University, and law at Boston University. She is a graduate of the Emerson College Publishing and Writing program and works as a literary agent with Chalberg & Sussman, specializing in YA.

She lives in Boston, subsisting largely on cake, gimlets, and eyeliner.

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5 stars
888 (21%)
4 stars
1,300 (31%)
3 stars
1,194 (29%)
2 stars
518 (12%)
1 star
196 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 802 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,945 reviews291k followers
August 18, 2017
In some ways, I feel like I'm being generous. I'm upping my rating to two stars, and yet this book was so painfully slow and boring.

I've mostly been reading it during the day whilst on vacation so I'm neither tired nor grumpy, but I could feel my eyes trying to close as they moved through the pages of snoozeworthy text. It just goes to show that having beautiful, poetic writing and an exciting setting in Montenegro cannot make up for a plot that takes forever to go anywhere.

On the other hand, I feel like this book will be an all time favourite for a different type of reader. It's not the first time I've talked about this. Some books come with dreamy descriptions that focus in detail on the senses. Books like Caraval and The Star-Touched Queen. Books that describe the scents of fruit and flowers in every scene, floating on a wave of purple prose. These books just don't seem to be for me.

I was expecting something more along the lines of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender when I went into this book. It's one of my favourite whimsical and charming reads. But the first main difference is that the plot moves along at a good pace in Ava Lavender, and here it plods.

It's a book about witches. Fraternal twins - Iris and Malina - have grown up with their overbearing and magical mother, Jasmina. They both have their own magic, known as the gleam, which for Iris is summoned through flowers, and for Malina comes in the form of emotions she brings out with her singing voice. They must keep their power a secret, though, and NEVER fall in love.

Then Jasmina is attacked and hovers in a place between life and death. Iris and Malina must discover what happened to her, who is responsible, and uncover the truth about their origins. Sounds good, right? But the getting there is so slow, so bogged down by conversations about perfumes, paintings, singing and glassworks.
Malina whistled softly, then bit her cherry-cleft lower lip. “Orange blossom absolute, wow. That’s wonderful. I’ve never smelled one that dramatic. There’s amber in there too, I think, and maybe myrrh? And lots of other things I can’t recognize, I’m sorry.

I just don't care about this stuff.

The main story is supposed to be the mystery behind the witches and what happened to Jasmina, but it took so long to get there that when I finally did, I realized that I no longer cared. These description-heavy, dreamy perfume/art books are definitely for someone, but unfortunately that someone isn't me.

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Profile Image for High Lady of The Night Court.
135 reviews5,040 followers
June 25, 2019
“Nothing tamed can curb what grew unfettered.”

Wicked Like A Wildfire was nothing like I expected. The only reason I kept this book off for so long is because I read the blurb a long time ago and,sadly, the only part I remembered was that the girls were forbidden to love, which led me to the, frankly stupid, notion that this book would be a story about girls who are not supposed to fall in love but someone falls in love and the world goes to hell because of it. But I seemed to have forgotten the very central idea that their mother is attacked.

I loved every bit of this book starting from the wonderfully descriptive writing to the amazing protagonist. The main character Iris, is one of my favorite characters simply because of her personality and there is no better way to describe her than sharp, wild, and explosive. Malina, her sister, on the other hand, is the sweet, subdued one who everyone likes. Putting two characters with such different personalities together, and as sisters, comes with the risk of a lot of friction and fights, but watching these two work together and always stand together despite some of the friction, is rather genius.

While the blurb does mention their mother, it doesn’t mention that their relationship with their mother is strained to say the least. When they were kids they used to do magic along with their mother but at one point they were forbidden from ever accessing those powers and their mother has been prickly ever since. Iris and her mother fight often and he fights are always big and take a huge toll on the both of them.
All the characters have a very unique dynamic and watching them work with each other in such a mysterious plot is wonderful.

The first thing I realised when I started reading this book was that Lana Popović's take on witches was nothing like I had read before. Witches have been portrayed in many ways but nothing like this. The Witches in this book revolve around beauty in a way that has never been done before. Grace, beauty, and magic go hand in hand in a lot of aspects in this book, but the very literal link to this unique type of magic is exciting and wonderful

I’m writing this review after having read both books so I can tell you that the plot is pretty straightforward but the writing, the characters, and the magic are worth it. The books focus on the relationship between the twins, their mother, and their friends and I feel like the kinship between them is the best part of both books.

The writing as I’ve mentioned a million times already is definitely my most favorite part of these books. The description is simply perfect, the words seem to complement everything the author is trying to narrate and the imagery is mind blowing. I give both the books all five stars and hope that more people will enjoy them like I did.
Profile Image for Korrina  (OwlCrate).
193 reviews4,562 followers
December 26, 2016
This was a stunning book about the relationships between mothers and daughters, and sisters. The writing was utterly beautiful, and I've never read anything like it. The characters, especially the twins, were flawed and real. This is a great debut - keep your eye out for it next year!
Profile Image for Iryna *Book and Sword*.
431 reviews680 followers
July 15, 2018
1.5/5 stars (DNF at page 215) (rounded down)

What's that saying?
"Don't judge a book by its cover."? Well it goes both ways. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful cover, but the novel itself? Not so much.

But let's start with the good stuff:
- The cover, obviously.
- This book will make you hungry will all of its desert descriptions. Like "so hungry can't stop drooling hungry!"
- This book made me want to buy myself flowers, many flowers.
​- It also made me want to wear more perfume (which I mean, I'm allergic to, but whatever).
- It's set in Montenegro, which I know nothing about, so I liked that aspect.
- The writing is pretty - if you're into it.

Was I into it? Not really, I read 5 pages of it and the only word that kept running through my mind was - pretentious, pretentious, pretentious.

It felt like the author just really liked using her dictionary - trying to fit as many descriptions and adjectives into one page as possible. Think Strange the Dreamer amount of words, but without the fluidness of flow. Think of Night Circus, but not nearly as magical (well, actually not magical at all).

The main character, Iris is a bitchy bitch for no apparent reason. She's "breathtakingly beautiful, but she herself doesn't think so." NO, thank you!
Her sister Lina is the only character I somewhat liked, although to be honest Lina really lacked in character development area. They all did.
​All of the characters had as much dimension as a sheet of paper.
I was bored.
The plot? I don't know if there was a plot, but apparently I never got to it. And I generously gave up after 215 pages.

​Characters (meaning Iris mostly) make the dumbest and most contradicting decisions. The plot is slow, the descriptions are overbearing - and overall it's just nothing new. Also main character likes to mix alcohol and drugs and being a little whore with magic, and I'm sorry but what?

Good ideas - poor execution. Sorry book, better luck elsewhere. shame though, as I was really excited for it (well I was excited, because I'm a cover whore, so don't be one - it doesn't pay off).

Read in 2018

Just casually drooling over how beautiful the cover of this book is.

Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
September 5, 2017
On sale this week! Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

In Wicked Like a Wildfire (2017), magic and secrecy swirl around Iris and Malina, a pair of seventeen year old fraternal twins who live in current-day Montenegro with their single mother, Jasmina. Jasmina confides to them that all of the women in their family have a distinct gleam, a magical way to create and enhance beauty. Jasmina bakes marvelous foods that call particular visual scenes to the minds of those who eat them. Malina can sense moods and reflect them back with an amazing voice that creates layers of harmony. And Iris can make flowers (and sometimes other objects) expand and fractal into spiral blazes and fireworks of color.

Their joyful, though private, practicing of their magic together comes to an abrupt end when the twins are seven and a neighbor nearly discovers their secret. Jasmina, panicked at the thought of discovery and the danger that would result, forbids any more exercise of their magical powers. In the ten years since, Iris’s powers have faded and her relationship with her mother has been poisoned. Iris, who narrates the story, has been hardened by years of bitter fights with her mother; their fights now are about Iris’s “slutty” wardrobe and her sneaking out at night and habitual drunkenness.

Just when Iris and her mother seem to be coming to a point where they can communicate again, something terrible happens. As Iris and Malina try to figure out what has happened to their mother and what they can do about it, strange and mystical events lead them to a place and people they’d never imagined … and that may pull the sisters apart forever.

Wicked Like a Wildfire is a YA fantasy that I suspect will hugely appeal to some readers but leave others cold. It has lush writing with vivid imagery. Popović frequently segues into lavishly detailed descriptions of food, clothing, or magical displays.
Some days she baked doe’s back cake, a roulade of airy hazelnut dough and chocolate ganache dusted with ground hazelnuts, yet there was always an element of surprise ― a sprig of mint that should have soured the cake, but that instead put you in mind of a glen in the woods. And with the next bite, a speck of wild strawberry, the kind that grew alongside forest trails, until you felt you walked them yourself with the liquid gleam of a fawn’s eyes fixed on you from the brush.

Mama’s desserts were nothing if not suspenseful.
It’s lovely, but the pace often lags, perhaps partly as a result of this attention to detail.

I also enjoyed the unique Montenegro setting, and the unexpected element of the twins’ half-Japanese heritage. The plot has some intriguing twists and variations that I won’t disclose, but some of it felt like a variation on standard YA fantasy tropes, with the Chosen One, the two hot guys as love interests (though, to Popović’s credit, it avoids coalescing into a love triangle, at least so far), a queer romance subplot, and a life-and death competition coming into play.

Perhaps most damaging to my enjoyment of the novel, though, was its setting up of Iris as a “bad girl” protagonist. Iris has inner strength, but isn’t averse to casual sex, and wastes much of her energy in hard partying and profitless, vicious arguments with her mother, at least in the first part of the novel. She got off to such a bad start with me that I was never able to truly like or sympathize with her, but other readers might enjoy her personality much more than I did. Wicked Like a Wildfire also lost points with me for its major cliffhanger ending, a lamentable practice in series.

So in the end I’m on the fence about whether to continue with this duology. But Wicked Like a Wildfire is worth checking out if you like edgy YA heroines, unique settings and extravagant imagery. The sequel, Fierce Like a Firestorm, is due for publication in summer 2018, and appears likely to continue the story from Malina’s point of view.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for review. Thank you!

Initial post: Surprise package from the publicist today! Judging by the blurb, I think I'm more likely to enjoy this one than most of the unrequested books that occasionally grace my mailbox.

Content notes: scattered F-bombs; main character sleeps with two guys (though the sex isn't explicit) and is a hard drinker when the story begins. Gay romance subplot.
Profile Image for Wren (fablesandwren).
669 reviews1,499 followers
September 17, 2020
"If you love the cover, you'll love the book!"

Never judge a book by its cover. Especially when the cover is as beautiful as that with a perfect add-on of a title.

I was just bored.

There was a lot of fluffy and beautiful descriptions but not enough content for me. And the characters didn’t really seem to have actual relations. You know like you can call someone your best friend but are you actually best friends? You can say that you hate someone so much you would push them in front of a bus, but do you actually feel that way?

It just wasn’t for me. It might be for someone who loves descriptions more than what is happening with the characters. But for me, I need more.


RTC. I sadly wasn't too impressed.


I'm not going to lie.. I'm a little bored. The Magic is a very interesting, but the character dynamic isn't meshing with me very well.
Profile Image for Simona B.
887 reviews2,972 followers
September 20, 2017
I'm really, honestly tired of and terribly sorry for having to say this, especially when it's a book that offers such potential for diversity I'm talking about, but there's just no other way of putting it: good concept, poor execution.

Wicked Like a Wildfire is set in Cattaro, Montenegro, which is maybe its strongest asset and the thing about it that appealed to me the most. In the course of the book, the characters visit some characteristic places of the area for plot-related reasons (e.g., Our Lady of the Rocks, a place I didn't even know existed but that sounds so lovely, now I can't wait to visit it) and in my opinion, this is such a clever move, I wonder why don't more YA authors do that, use their stories to let us see more of the world with such undisguised love as Lana Popović was able to do here.

Purple prose - check. The book is heavy with lengthy, wordy descriptions of scents, tastes, flavours, the emotional impact of images in terms of scents, tastes, flavours, and I just couldn't care less.

•And, well, I'd say the "couldn't care less" bit applies to everything else too. Characters, plot–I was pitifully unaffected by it all. The one thing that could have truly, deeply interested me is how Popović decided to treat magic (not your usual sparkly spells, I promise): it seemed, and to a degree, it is, fascinating and original, but it was all too vague for my taste. Throw a love triangle in there, and you have me downright annoyed.

I won't read the sequel, even though, never say never and all that. But I doubt I'll change my mind: Wicked Like a Wildfire , though full of promise, was, all things considered, almost entirely disappointing.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,688 reviews1,266 followers
August 5, 2017
(I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

This was a YA paranormal/fantasy story about two sisters with special gifts.

I liked Iris and Malina, and I liked how much they supported each other, even when their mother seemed to favour Malina.

The storyline in this was about the two girls having magical gifts that their mother had warned them to keep hidden, Iris’ ability to make fractal patterns out of flowers, and Malina’s ability to sing emotions to people. When their mother was then attacked though, it was up to Iris and Malina to try to work out why their mother was attacked and by whom, and to try to understand their powers and what they meant. The story was entertaining, but I found the pace a little slow, and the occasional mentions of Pepsi and Mazda’s seemed a little incongruous with the fantasy setting.

The ending to this was a cliff-hanger, so it will be interesting to see what happens in the next book.
6.5 out of 10
Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,146 reviews248 followers
August 6, 2017
“Your beauty is a force, you know, a power all its own. It can be both sword and shield for you, and win you anything you want.”

I love magical realism! Having read two really fantastic ones in the past month has reignited by love for this magically captivating genre. Wicked Like a Wildfire is an enchanting story of beauty, power, family, and love. Iris and Malina’s family has a history of manipulating or “gleaming” beauty into magical works of art. But their mother is adamant that they keep their abilities a secret, and above all, never fall in love. But when their mother is attacked, Iris and Malina must uncover family secrets that can change their lives forever.

Things I Liked
I absolutely loved the descriptive writing in the story. Each room, setting, food, smell, and perfume were all vividly described. It really highlighted the beauty in their world, and their appreciation of it. I thought it worked perfectly with their magic.

I loved the magic and powers displayed in the story. They were so incredibly unique. I loved that the powers were related to beauty and beauty manipulations through the senses. It was so cool and created fantastic visuals for me. And I really love the family history we get in the last third of the book - it helped create a fuller world.

I really like the different representations we got in the story. Iris and Malina are both half-Japanese. Luka and Nikoletta, their best friends, are Romany. Malina and Niko are in a wlw relationship. It was great to see some diversity in this magical story.

I actually really loved all of the romantic relationships in the story. They are cute and adorable and so easy to root for. Even though they have been warned to never fall in love, the romances have emotion and history behind them that make them believable.

I wasn’t actually sold on the sibling relationship between Iris and Malina until about the 65% mark, but once we hit there, the entire story elevated for me. You can clearly see the sisterly love between them. They are so devoted to one another and have some fantastic moments, including my favorite scene in the entire book.

“Nothing is ever simple. There was no such thing as the one and only truth, and that too was a freedom in itself.”

“Or maybe that was what it always felt like, knowing you might lose everything when you’d only just discovered all there was to live for. The sheer brilliance of the light against the darkness was almost too much to stand.”

Things I Didn’t Like
I didn’t like Jasmina at all. She was actually a pretty awful mom, who was physically and verbally abusive. Her relationship with Iris was especially combative and tense. I understand the motivations behind her actions, but I still didn’t like them. And I feel like we didn't get enough time with her for me to really connect with her.

I personally found some of the chapter transitions, especially in the beginning, to be rather abrupt. They felt like they happened mid-scene. But once you hit the 30% mark, it really isn’t an issue anymore. The transitions were just not as seamless as I would have liked.

This book had a slow start for me, but really picked-up around the 65% mark and truly captivated me from then on. I loved the development in Iris and Malina’s relationship, their growth individually and together. The romances, while not a major part, felt emotionally real and I really liked them. I loved the beauty and effervescent zeal the book had. The ending was also FANTASTIC - I got a real Hades and Persephone vibe that sets up the conclusion to this duology to be everything I could ever want.

I received a copy of the book from Katherine Tegen Books in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Drew.
449 reviews504 followers
Want to read
November 20, 2016
Oh my goodness. That synopsis actually made my heart pound.

All the women in Iris and Malina's family are born with a gleam—a unique way of manipulating beauty through magic.

I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover but I'm judging so hard right now. "A bewitching duology about the power of love, death, magic, and the many faces of beauty"? Um, give it to me now, please.

To save each other, they must untangle a thousand years of lies and reveal their own hurtful secrets.

Profile Image for Laurie.
Author 19 books3,353 followers
August 25, 2016
This book is a dazzling visual feast (and a graphic or CGI artist's dream project). I could give this book 5 stars solely on that. Or for the simply stunning writing that graces practically every page (from the breathtaking descriptions of Montenegro that make me want to go there RIGHT NOW to the vivid/visceral portrayal of her protagonist's passionate inner life - as well as the artful rendering of the book's unique "gleam" magic). *SPOILER ALERT* But I am also giving this book 5 stars for the use of a giant, magically conjured wisteria tree as an unexpected weapon (and it works - she pulls this off in the most thrilling way possible). A romantic, gorgeously wrought gem.
Profile Image for Irene ➰.
404 reviews76 followers
February 9, 2018

I really don’t know where to start with this.
First things first. You have to like the writing style, otherwise this book will only turn out super boring and confusing.
And I’m definitely in the (very) confused category. I really didn’t like the style used. Everything is described so slowly and with smells and scents.
At the beginning it sounded very interesting but after a while it started to bore me to sleep.

I wanted a very cool magical mystery book but it’s super slow and the mystery is too.
The main event that starts everything, and it’s funny to think it’s actually written in the synopsis, only happens at page 150 or something so the “first” pages are only a very big and boring introduction, at least for me.
I wanted way more action and events in general and in some parts I was so confused that I didn’t want to go on with the reading. But then all in a sudden, even if I still don’t know how it happened or basically what happened (lol) things got pretty interesting. I’m speaking about the last fifty pages or so, so this took a lot of time to get there…
I wanted it to be a little more “magical” too, I thought that all the gleam thing was a way bigger part in the book, same for the mystery.

The characters are okay, the setting was kinda cool - it’s set in Montenegro and I’ve never read a book set there, but even the setting wasn’t worked out well for me.
In short, I already forgot most of it. The ending gave the book some redeem quality because finally we have some real information to analyze, but that was not enough for me. The writing built a constant barrier between me and the world.
Profile Image for Lana Popović.
Author 4 books689 followers
May 25, 2017
This book sounds like it was written by a very hungry person who walks around sniffing too many things. Idk, idk.
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,084 reviews215 followers
April 3, 2019
I have been dying to dive into this series for the LONGEST time. Two years is a long time right?

Wicked Like A Wildfire totally consumed me. I honestly couldn't put my phone down. Mostly because then that would pull my headphones out of my ears.. and it would just hurt. Luckily for me, not so much for my ears, I fell in love with absolutely everything about this book.

In it, you will meet Iris and some other characters. Iris, is and was my girl for forever. I loved her from the very beginning because of spunk and she's kind of my spirit animal. She could do no wrong in my eyes. Then there's her sister, Malina, who was the complete opposite of her. She was alright in my opinion.. but it was interesting to see how they got along with one another. Iris is still my forever favorite though.

Besides getting to know them, I liked the whole forbidden magic take in this book. Usually I read about forbidden loves (or something along those lines) so it was interesting to dive into. At least for me. The relationships between this family were unique in it's own way. I really enjoyed getting to know each character a bit better and definitely enjoyed the journey this book took me through.

I can't wait to dive into the next book.
Profile Image for Jilly Gagnon.
Author 10 books239 followers
January 10, 2017
I am in LOVE with this book.

I could not get enough of the stunning prose Popovic weaves around her characters, and scenery, like a subtle perfume, coloring every moment on the page with richness and beauty. As if that's not enough, the plot is incredibly engrossing and the characters all burst off the page, fully-formed, flawed, and fascinating.

At this point, I'm just salivating for book two. A must-read from 2017.
Profile Image for Sarah.
3,326 reviews1,016 followers
December 3, 2017
I honestly expected to love this book, fantasy is my favourite genre and I love magic so it seemed right up my street and then you throw in that gorgeous cover and of course I'm going to pick up a copy.

Unfortunately it just didn't work for me though. There's no denying that Lana Popović's writing is beautiful but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. There are pages upon pages of description, great when she's describing the Montenegro setting and the beautiful mountains, but it starts to get boring fast when she's going into depth about the taste and smell of everything they even think about eating.

It didn't help that I wasn't able to connect with either of the main characters and that the plot is moving along so slowly that I have no idea if anything exciting will ever actually happen. Oh and of course theres the obligatory love triangle too except this time it is between her best friend and one of the creepiest guys on the planet who seems to suck the main characters brains out whenever they're within a few metres of each other. There is literally nothing attractive about the guy and the scenes they're together just make me cringe - if he doesn't turn out to be evil then I would have to set my copy of the book on fire for setting such a terrible relationship example to any teenager who reads this.

It's not often I make it as far as 75% into a book and just don't care enough to read the rest, normally if I've pushed that far I'm going to finish it out of pure stubbornness (I REALLY hate to quit!) but in this case I just couldn't be bothered. Every time I thought about picking it back up I'd start making excuses to myself that I really needed to do some housework and had no time to read. Who the hell puts a book down so they can do housework by choice? That's not normal for me I can tell you! So I've given it my best shot and I'm quitting now before it steals anymore of my brain cells.
Profile Image for Sana.
1,076 reviews956 followers
August 1, 2017
'Nothing was ever simple. There was no such thing as the one and only truth, and that too was a freedom in itself.'*

WTF was that ending?!

So. As much as I enjoyed reading Wicked Like a Wildfire, I have to say that I found the beginning tough to read because of the intense mother-daughter relationship to the point where they both slut-shamed each other. Um not entirely okay reading that. Moreover, it read very much like a debut and I wasn't too fond of the overt descriptive writing i.e.

'Above us the pine branches crossed each other, carving up the night sky into a puzzle of star-pricked pieces with wind whistling through them.'*

So yeah...that was pretty much how the writing went for the entirety of the book. Fortunately, I got sucked into the whole mystery as well as Popović's take on the local legends of Montenegro to not be wholly bothered by it. However, I will admit that it is warranted in some places seeing how the gleam (re: magic) is such a big part of the story and I definitely found the writing expanding on the stunning magic involving food, fractals, singing and what not beautiful. Otherwise, it just seemed a little too much.

Other things that work in its favor are the biracial (half-Japanese and half-Serbian) twin sisters and their sibling dynamic, the setting and all them witches. I think Popović did a great job with the imagery of the setting and the places in it. Most importantly, the family of witches and the fact that there are what three male characters are just great. There's also a very cute queer ship.

In all, the writing can use more editing and way less purple prose despite the characters and the plot (though some of it is too glaringly obvious that I was like but why are the characters so shocked by those revelations haha) being engaging enough by themselves. I definitely think that this would have been a favorite otherwise. Lastly, I HAVE QUESTIONS.

Actual review still to come LOL.

*Quotes taken from the ARC and may change upon publication.
Profile Image for Natasha Ngan.
Author 7 books3,311 followers
November 25, 2016
I was lucky enough to read an early copy - which in a way turned out to be somewhat unlucky, as I have longer to wait for the sequel! WLAW is a beautifully executed novel (Lana's writing is just so, so gorgeous!) with the perfect blend of mystery, romance, adventure and magic. Prepare to be utterly seduced.
Profile Image for Kay.
299 reviews57 followers
April 19, 2018
When she was younger, Iris could see flowers and the rest of the world as flowers, could blow beautiful glass. All the women in her family have had this sort of gleam, the ability to manipulate beauty. Now that power is all but gone.

Working in her mother's bakery in a little sea side town, Iris detests her mother, the woman who forbid her from using her gift and from loving. The only things she really has going for her are her twin sister, Malina, and her best friend, Luka, who brings her flowers that still bring about the gleam. She just wants to get out and visit Japan, where the father she's never known is from, but that all changes when her mother is attacked. The attack is only the first of a stage of mysterious happenings and dreams that bring about a journey that reveals terrifying secrets about the sisters' family.

Wicked Like A Wildfire started out painfully slow. I was constantly getting bored and setting down the book in the beginning, and things didn't really start getting interesting until much later on. There was also something about the fluffy, purple prose writing style that made it drag and hard to get through, and honestly, the beginning half of this book alone would probably be a 2 star.

The later half and climax, on the other hand, made up for the beginning. The climax was crazy, and I just flew through the ending, not knowing what was going to happen and needing to learn! And the cliffhanger...I will definitely be getting my hands on book two when it comes out!

I enjoyed how complex all the characters were. Iris is portrayed as a "bad girl" in the beginning who gets drunk at parties and has casual hookups, which I don't usually see in YA, so it was fun to read about. However, as the story progressed, it became increasingly clear that she was so much more than she seemed on the surface. This is true of the other characters as well! It's easy to hate Iris's mother in the beginning, but as Iris learns more about her past, what's good and bad becomes increasingly muddled.

I love the diversity and representation in this book! Iris and Malina's father, who is never met, was Japanese, and I love how Iris wants to pursue the heritage she doesn't even know about. (Note: as someone named Kay Wisteria I feel a special love for Iris and her love of wisteria flowers). There's a lesbian relationship between two main characters, and I'm pretty sure there will be an even greater focus on it in the next book. And, of course, the wonderful setting of Montenegro!

I really enjoyed the romance in this one too! It just made my heart so happy and squealy! I fear there may be a love triangle in the sequel, but I'm just going to enjoy this one for the time being.

One complaint is that I'm not really 100% sure how the magic/gleam really works. I understand it well enough to understand the plot, but I feel like it was kind of underdeveloped, and would have liked to learn more about it.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Lisa.
827 reviews480 followers
May 2, 2017
This is a case of where beautiful writing and an exotic setting cannot save a plot that refuses to move. I love the world-building and the build-up, but when little is revealed in the first half of the book, it gives the reader very little desire to continue on.

Where's the pull, the excitement?

I'm disappointed.
910 reviews256 followers
September 27, 2017
Reviewing books by way of stars often feels so lazy, but I'm not sure how else to do it here.

See, for the entire first half, this was sitting at a solid 4 for me, with a few moments here and there that made me either wince or swoon. And then a whole bunch of crazy happens, where the main explanation seems to always be "but beauty", and there's no way it's anywhere near a 4 star book after that, surely. Except the last few pages and the ending maybe shifted it back up a little in my good graces... So it's sitting pretty at a solid 3 for now.

As for actually trying to get deep into the book, the plot, the characters, writing etc - yeah, not going to happen right now. Too confusing.

I'll read the sequel though.
Profile Image for Grace {Rebel Mommy Book Blog}.
475 reviews170 followers
October 27, 2018
I have complicated feelings about Wicked Like a Wildfire.
– I didn’t love how slow the beginning was. I feel like it took forever.
– I do think it picked up nicely about midway through.
– While the writing was beautiful sometimes it was just too much, too flowery for my liking.
– I think the mystery and discovery of what was going on was fascinating and fun.
– I didn’t love the cliffhanger – even though I knew it was coming. I just hate them.
– I did really enjoy the characters and their progression.
Overall, I think the good won out especially since I was really into it in the end. I am hoping to get to the next book soon.
Profile Image for Alexa.
2,116 reviews11.1k followers
July 24, 2017
It's hard to express exactly why I liked this novel, even though I know for sure that I did. It's wonderfully whimsical, crammed to the brim with odd, dark, beautiful magic, a potent mix of lore and culture. While it does start off fairly slow, I think it builds up into something that I just couldn't look away from, and I'm looking forward to reading the next one.
Profile Image for Jalilah.
373 reviews90 followers
August 29, 2018
This book is a marvellous and engrossing fairy tale-like read for young and old alike! Set in Montenegro in a small town by the sea and against the mountains, two sisters and their mother have magical powers that they must keep secret. Iris can see flowers as fractals and recreates them into glassworks. Malina interprets moods as music and sings them. Their mother Yasmina can transport people to memories through her baked creations. One day Yasmina is attacked. The police are useless, so in their quest to find out who the attacker is, Iris and Malina discover they have many family secrets. This book might appeal to people who enjoyed Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemor or The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black.
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,703 reviews625 followers
July 5, 2020
This was such a pleasant surprise! I actually put off reading it for almost a year, because it didn't really appeal to me for some reason. I don't even know why, because this turned out to be right up my alley. The writing was lush and beautiful, and the whole vibe of the book was mysterious and drew me in right away. The only thing that put me off a little was that the story got a little messy towards the end, but some of the surprising plottwists mostly made up for that. I'm definitely going to read the sequel!
Profile Image for Emma.
898 reviews869 followers
September 23, 2020
2.75/5 Stars

Wicked Like a Wildfire has a lot to offer in terms of original plot and magical aspects. It is infused with fascinating elements that make the story interesting to read and definitely make it stand out from other books about magic. The setting is also different, the novel is set in Montenegro and it was such a pleasant experience to learn more about that place and the people who live there.

Unfortunately I believe this book lacked some better descriptions of the magic system. The witches in this novel have the gleam, which is basically the magical power. The interesting feature is that every person's gleam is different from the others. It was a cool concept, but it was quite difficult to grasp how the different gleams work and what's the extent of their power and abilities. I would have liked some better explanation.

The storyline kept my interest and even though some things were predictable, it was still an enjoyable read. I must say I had to lower my rating because of the ending, which was a chaotic mess. Without going into spoilers, it was just complicated to understand what was going on.

There's also a second book in this series, but at the moment I'm not sure if I'm going to read it.
Profile Image for Diana.
1,716 reviews219 followers
June 16, 2020
DNF'ed @ pg 211

I have been on some sort of reading slump, reading a couple out of 10 books, or maybe a bit more than that but not necessarily liking the ones I finnish.

So when I finnish one and love it it's great. And also I'm kinda wondering why did I kept reading when a hundred pages in I couldn't stand the prefabricated characters: twin sisters, one mellow one like a wildfire; both with secrets and an abusive mother who lies to them. And a plot that I just didn't feel nor care about... I think there were too many elements and things going on with insuficient development, and I felt like I didn't care because the characters were as meh as their magics confussing. Maybe "confussing" it's not the definition, but I felt like it wasn't really "built", if that makes sense...
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