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Shimmer and Burn

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To save her sister’s life, Faris must smuggle magic into a plague-ridden neighboring kingdom in this exciting and dangerous start to a brand-new fantasy duology.

Faris grew up fighting to survive in the slums of Brindaigel while caring for her sister, Cadence. But when Cadence is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly agrees to a lucrative scheme to buy her back, inadvertently binding herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne.

Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance—magic that addicts in the war-torn country can sense in her blood and can steal with a touch. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North, who offers protection from Avinea’s many dangers, but he cannot save Faris from Bryn’s cruelty as she leverages Cadence’s freedom to force Faris to do anything—or kill anyone—she asks. Yet Faris is as fierce as Bryn, and even as she finds herself falling for North, she develops schemes of her own.

With the fate of kingdoms at stake, Faris, Bryn, and North maneuver through a dangerous game of magical and political machinations, where lives can be destroyed—or saved—with only a touch.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published August 8, 2017

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About the author

Mary Taranta

2 books135 followers
I write stories about bloodshed and tears, and in some cases, kissing.

Born and raised in rural Ohio, I now live in the sprawling suburbs of Central Florida wherein I complain about the heat, pay homage to the air conditioner, and prefer to drink my iced tea sweet.

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5 stars
286 (26%)
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282 (25%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 206 reviews
Profile Image for Cindy ✩☽♔.
976 reviews776 followers
Currently reading
September 25, 2016
When you see there's a cover model, and you like your covers model free...

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Wait, why was the title changed? No!!! Until Our Blood Runs Clean was a way cooler title! =(

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Profile Image for Jaime (Two Chicks on Books).
825 reviews400 followers
July 2, 2017
Wow! I have no words for how fantastic this was! There was something very Maria V. Snyder-esque in the world building and story. And the Magic and swoons! OMG!!!! I need book 2 now!!!
Profile Image for mith.
740 reviews256 followers
September 16, 2017
you can find my review on my blog as well!

"My mother tried to kill me the night the guards arrested her."


I'm speechless.

This is a book I picked up on a whim, at 3 AM, because my friend couldn't pick a book for me and I was desperate. So I randomly picked a book with my eyes closed and it was the best. Decision. Ever.

I was hooked from the first line of this book. And that doesn't happened often. I mean, how can you not be hooked by that? Better yet, it didn't just stop there.

The entire first chapter had me hooked. So much happened. I was swooning, grinning, then waiting, wondering where it would lead it. Then I was shocked. And I already knew that this book would be everything I wanted to be.

I adored Faris! God, she was such a fantastic main character. She fought for what she wanted and it was clear that she would continue to do so. She had something driving her and she never let herself forget that--everything she would risk would be for her sister. She was fierce and she was strong; smart and reasonable... I love Faris so, so much. She was written so well and being inside her head, reading her story, it was great. Time and time again, when it looked like nothing was going to go right, I kept rooting for her, constantly on edge to see what would happen, how she would get out of this new predicament.

There was another character who I didn't think would play a big part in the novel but did--Bryn. She's a princess who's hungry for her father's throne and I absolutely hated her. And yet, here was a princess who was cunning and vicious and pampered. Here was a princess who knew how to use people, who knew how she had to plan, one who would not hesitate by any means necessary. Who wouldn't give up on her plans, no matter how many people end up dead or used along the way. There were times I didn't understand her and Taranta did a spectacular job here--it made her complex, gave her so much more depth. Because you couldn't tell if she was the villain or not. You couldn't tell if she was good or bad, or just a mixture of both. Bryn, as much as I detested her, also begrudgingly earned my respect.

And then there was North... Oh my heart, how I adored North from the very start. See, the author did something from the first chapter that I wasn't expecting, so when North came in, I was a bit hesitant. I wasn't sure how she'd play this card (which you'll understand after reading the first chapter), but I didn't have to worry. It's clear that Mary Taranta is a gifted writer and knows exactly what she's doing.

Anyway: North. I LOVE HIM. So much. He's so sweet and adorable and gah, my heart. He was a steady presence in the book, knowing what to do and what to say, which was sort of difficult considering they had someone like Bryn along for their journey. He was charming, too, and MY HEART. I just love him so much! He and Faris just fit so well with each other--and not just in a romantic aspect (though the romantic in me just wants to see them together, happily), but as partners, as friends.

Also, small bit on the romance, because I am me and I cannot control myself: wow. It took a while, but the BUILDUP. So cute! And also agonising. I loved it, but I know nothing will come easy to these two, who definitely deserve a break. BUT I AM ROOTING FOR YOU TWO.

This is the sort of fantasy I adore. The one with complicated magic in the air. The one with a fierce main character front and centre. One that doesn't hold back on intrigue or bloodiness--and there is some of that here. This is the kind of fantasy I want to keep reading because it puts me at the edge of my seat and makes me want to read late into the night, not wanting to stop. Taranta created such a wonderful fantasy world and it didn't fail to keep my attention at any given moment.

Anyway. I am a bit sad that I'm done with this one. I've been in such a bored state of mind with my books and this one made me feel like I was back in the game.

Overall: 5 full stars. I desperately need the next book! I need to know what happens!
Profile Image for booksnpenguins (wingspan matters).
708 reviews1,966 followers
February 21, 2023
He looks at me, through me.
"Your strength is my weakness, Miss Locke. The fault is entirely my own. You've done nothing wrong. It didn't get far; the damage is minimal."
"Having a heart is not a weakness," I say softly. "A weak heart breaks, a broken heart bleeds, and blood can be poisoned."
North slams a drawer back into place before exhaling. "That is how a king becomes a coward, and how a country becomes a graveyard."

This was AWESOME! I need more.
N O W.
Profile Image for Emily.
694 reviews2,004 followers
August 11, 2017
Abandoned around 31%. This book plays YA fantasy trope bingo, which creates a mishmash of bad plotting and characters who make unbelievably dumb decisions. There are lots of good fantasy words - the slums are the Brim, the merchants live on the Ridge - but this feels like window dressing rather than a real world inhabited by real people. Nowhere is this more apparent than the first chapter, where the author tries to spin up this crazily intricate scene that ends in disaster. The characters seemingly don't take their own world seriously, but the chapter still ends with a violent death.

It doesn't get any better from there. Faris is supposedly a Smart Thief who's made it on her own in the Brim by subsisting on winnings from fights (lol), but she's clearly unable to think on her feet. She spends a lot of time threatening the people around her with various weapons , but never follows through. She's supposedly torn up over the Thaelan issue, but her "hatred" for the nobility and for the executioner somehow aren't acted on. She's a big mess of contradictions. Don't even get me started on Bryn and Alistair, who also have zero character consistency (Bryn, the ruthless planner, ? Alistair, the king's executioner, ?).

I liked the basics of the magic system and would have been interested in spending more time on this, but the writing during Faris and Bryn's escape was so bad that I don't think I can make it much further. Sorry, Faris. You aren't a real person.
Profile Image for Sheila G.
506 reviews97 followers
January 2, 2019
This full review can also be viewed on my blog along with others at: foalsfictionandfiligree.com

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Wake up, I think helplessly, but she needs magic for that, and the king keeps it all locked in his castle.

Faris is a girl who knows how tough life can be. Growing up in the slums of Brindaigel, she learned to fight, and defend her family at a young age. She knows that her actions always including paying a price, in some way or another. When her sister Cadence is captured while they tried to leave the city, Faris is faced with making some tough choices. 

She must choose between her own freedom, or her sister's, and the consequences that come along with either choice when it is made. Forbidden love, menacing magic, and political intrigue are interwoven to create a memorable tale of a girl seeking redemption for those she loves.

"When the gods went to war, they destroyed everything in their battle for dominance. Nothing survived except a single see that a farmer found buried in the ashes. But it couldn't grow without sunlight or water, so he went to the gods and he made them an offer: If he could defeat their strongest warriors, they would call a truce. Tell would rule the earth and Rook would rule the sky, and neither one would be more important than the other. They would be balanced."

"Farodeen the First," I say.

North smiles, pleased that I know his mythology. He wouldn't be so pleased if I told him the rest of the story we're taught, that Farodeen was sacrificed by his more powerful brother, Overen, the king of Brindaigel, and that Avinea was a consolation prize to his heirs. They would be destined to be farmers like their father.

"Farodeen wrestled Rook's giants out of the sky, and they damned Tell's volcanoes, ending the war. To reward him, the gods threaded their magic through his veins; starlight from Rook and fire from Tell, so if they ever went to war again, man could fight too."

"Shimmer and burn."


But this was so good! I'm already yearning for the sequel! 

Despite it's effervescent title, Shimmer and Burn is dark, draining, and dense. (I mean dense as in, thick, juicy, yummy.)


There is no doubt that the author labored over this work to get everything aligned and perfect. The writing mirrors the plot's complexity and deep-seated character development throughout the story. There are layers and layers upon scheming, at all levels of society, which totally makes the intrigue of this story, that much better.

Faris is a difficult, yet believable character. She is hard, yet clearly desires (and mettles in) love. However, her hard edges don't prepare her for when she is coerced into situations that are rather compromising. Being said, she makes mistakes, and is at times reactive rather than pensive. I found her character to be easy to understand, even if the reader didn't necessarily connect with her.

Cadence, although being a pivotal character in terms of the plot, isn't present much. It's difficult to discern from the text her nature, but I believe her role will be much bigger in the book to come.

Bryn, a malicious, rather terrible person, serves as one of the main antagonists. From the beginning to the end, she is manipulative, despicable, and downright difficult to discern. For how much I didn't like her, there were times where I found myself wanting to--which is an interesting pull toward the antagonist that I definitely didn't expect. 

North--what can I say that won't spoil him? I shall say nothing other than he too, is heart-wrenching. 

I thought how magic is used in Shimmer and Burn is clever. I won't say more for spoilers, but I just wanted to say that I really appreciated this different take on such a popular theme.

However great majority of this story and world was, the ending was somewhat lackluster. While the scheming is at its finest, it just wasn't the ending I was expecting for having such a tumultuous plot throughout the rest of the story.  

Vulgarity: Some.
Sexual content: Some. Kissing and some suggestive speech.
Violence: I found this book to be rather gory, please keep that in mind when picking it up!

My Rating: ★★★★½

A big thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

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Profile Image for Beatrice in Bookland.
445 reviews838 followers
August 21, 2018
"A weak heart breaks, a broken heart bleeds, and blood can be poisoned."


Why does this book have such a low rating??
It's original, unputdownable and it also has an amazing female lead and morally grey characters!
I'm honestly so in love with the story and the magic system, if you need me you can find me hugging my copy with a smile on my face lol
Profile Image for Rachael (RedRchlReads).
163 reviews114 followers
October 5, 2017
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

3.5 Stars

Shimmer and Burn was an intriguing fantasy debut, that was action packed from first page to last. There was a lot to like about the story, including the worldbuilding and everything about the magic system. The author is clearly a talented and creative writer, who thought through every aspect of the world she created, with special emphasis on the main focus of the story - magic. The magic system in this world is truly unique and I have never read a book with anything similar. It was by far the highlight of the story and was my favorite part to read about.

However, there was unfortunately a lot to this book that fell flat for me as well. The author fell hard into pretty much every YA trope there is, with the result of an incredibly predictable storyline and one dimensional characters. The most well rounded character is not our main character (whose name I've actually forgotten. It's Faris. I looked it up), but one of the traveling companions we meet about halfway through the story. There were however quite a few loose ends left for a sequel that would be intrigued to see where they lead.

On top of that, we made it most of the way through the book without any of the typical romances we tend to see in YA, but then BAM! out of nowhere with no previous indication suddenly love is in the air. It felt incredibly out of place and forced, and it definitely brought the book rating down for me. Authors: There does not need to be a romance in every book! If it doesn't fit, don't force it!

Final thoughts - read this book for the incredibly unique world and magic system, but don't expect anything spectacular in terms of plot and character development. I'll be interested to see what else this author comes out with and would probably pick up the sequel to this book to read more about the magic.
Profile Image for Miranda.
733 reviews111 followers
August 10, 2017
Shimmer and Burn was such a delightful surprise. I went into this book not knowing what to expect, and I was surprised with how much I enjoyed this book. I actually ended up reading this book in one sitting because it became very addictive very quickly. I thought the plot of Shimmer and Burn was creative and captivating. This was a story I never wanted to end!

I loved the fantasy elements of this book. The author created such an enchanting and mesmerizing world that I became lost in. There were a few times where I had to re-read passages to fully understand the magic system, but I thought the author did a great job at building this whimsical world. I was also surprised with how gruesome this book got. The author wasn't afraid to get bloody and kill off characters, which I actually really enjoyed. The dark moments added an alluring and terrifying element to this story.

The main character, Faris, was a wonderful main character. She felt so normal and relatable. She went through so much through this book, but she was always trying to do what she felt was right for her and her loved ones. Faris wasn't perfect or a "special snowflake". Faris made mistakes and felt guilt for some of the things she did. I found her character extremely compelling and well written.

One of the side characters, Bryn, was a scary, manipulative, and cruel woman. She wasn't afraid to hurt people to get what she wanted. I HATED her and loved her at the same time. I want her to die, but at the same time, I loved seeing a female take charge. I am extremely intrigued to see how she develops in the next book. I also really liked two of the other side characters, North and Alistair. North was swoon-worthy, smart, and caring. I fell in love with him so quickly AND I NEED MORE OF HIS CHARACTER. PLEASE? I also love Alistair. He was a bit of a mystery in this book and I am not sure if he is completely trustworthy. He seems to have good intentions, but he has a dark past and has made mistakes. I WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HIM, GIVE HIM A HUG, AND LOVE HIM.

The romance in this book was slow burning and wonderfully done. The romance was present in the story but in small doses. The small moments were heart stopping and swoon-worthy. I actually sort of ship Faris with two characters, and there is potential for a love triangle, however, it is not the focus of the story at all. Faris is only interested in one man in this book, but I think she also has some chemistry with another male, so I am intrigued to see what direction the author takes the romance in the next book. I would be happy with either male that Faris ends up with because I think either male is a great match for Faris. BRING ON THE ROMANCE!

Overall, I thought this was an imaginative and unique fantasy novel. If you are in the mood to start a new YA fantasy, I would recommend checking out this book!

4 / 5 Fangs

*This ebook was given to me in exchange for an honest review. *

MrsLeif's Two Fangs About It
Profile Image for nick (the infinite limits of love).
2,119 reviews1,336 followers
August 14, 2017

YA fantasy used to be one of my favorite genres in the past, but lately, I haven’t been meshing well with it. But still every time that I hear about a new fantasy book releasing, my interests piques. Shimmer and Burn was one of those books that tickled my fancy. Then I took a closer look at the book summary, and the minute I found out the plot was centered around the relationship between two sisters, I was more than in. I’m thrilled that my gut feelings about this book was right.

The main element that kept me glued to Shimmer and Burn was the impressive world building. Mary Taranta builds up the world, foundation by foundation, in a spellbinding fashion. The Kingdom, riddled with corrupt dark magic that was literally killing people, was written so intricately, I was able to picture every aspect of it. I was equally fascinated by the background here, which much like the world building, builds up piece by piece, as the author reveals more and more information throughout the book. I loved learning about the different regions within the Kingdom, the past war and how the decimation of certain cities came about. Even more interesting were the politics in Shimmer and Burn. They are twisted, with corruption, betrayals and secrets in the midst of it all, which isn’t all that unique when you think of it, but Taranta makes it her own with the way she weaves the political figures into the story. The book had the unlikely quality of being able to surprise me basically in every chapter – I swear my mind and heart were racing all over the place while I was reading Shimmer and Burn.

As for the characters in this book, I will say that I didn’t form an immediate connection to them. Instead, it took for me learning more about their personalities to become interested in them. Faris, the protagonist here, was a dependable young woman who has one main goal throughout the book : save her sister. At the beginning of the book, while attempting to escape the city of Brindaigel, her boyfriend is brutally murdered and made an example of to anyone else wanting to escape. Despite the obvious grief that she was feeling, she doesn’t falter in her absolute desire to save her sister, and her pure love for her sibling. Along the way, she learns more about the world that she lives in, becoming stronger, more confident, and more knowledgeable about the darkness within the magic infesting her world. She had her vulnerabilities that came out a few times during Shimmer and Burn, which made for an even more interesting heroine. For me, she was a character that grew considerably, which ultimately made her a heroine I enjoyed. She turned pretty ruthless by the end, and I’m excited to see where her character goes to next.

Shimmer and Burn has an equally compelling secondary cast. I especially enjoyed Bryn’s character here. She was truly manipulative, often times having zero qualms for using the people around her for her own gains, and I was never quite sure what her intentions were. That made for such an intriguing and oddly interesting character for me – what can I say I love those characters you just love to hate. There was also North, and his tiger pet, who I enjoyed as a protagonist. He was also full of surprises, but underneath everything, he was a genuinely sweet guy with good intentions to save the people he cared for. He and Faris grow a bud of romance here, that I’m hoping to see will blossom into something a bit stronger. For now though, I was satisfied with what we got here because it wouldn’t have made sense for Faris to jump into a relationship so soon after the death of her boyfriend, and in the middle of all the magical and political shenanigans.

Mary Taranta has a way with words and I can’t believe this is just her debut novel. Shimmer and Burn was terrific, and ended on a very gripping note. It’s going to be an excruciating wait for the sequel to be out. In the mean time though, you should certainly check out this fantastic YA fantasy read!
Profile Image for lady h.
639 reviews181 followers
August 10, 2017
I should have liked this book...in fact, from the very first chapter it felt different than most YA fantasy. Faris, a motherless young woman, already has a love interest. They are both trapped in the country of Brindaigel (which gave me serious Brigadoon vibes) by their king, who claims to be protecting them from a magical plague in the neighboring kingdom. Tragedy strikes fairly quickly for Faris and her beloved, and she ends up being blackmailed into taking a dangerous journey into the plague-ridden kingdom.

Faris is also not the only major female character; in fact, her companion on her dangerous journey, Bryn, features in equal amount. This too is unusual in YA and should have been spectacular, particularly as Bryn and Faris do not get along at all. But Bryn is...a weak attempt at crafting a villain. Everything about her is too bombastic and over the top; I get that she's ambitious and wants to be queen, but I never really understood why.

I think my dislike of this book comes down to one thing: it's hella confusing. I don't know if this was just me, or if I wasn't paying enough attention, but I frequently found myself having to go back and read paragraphs three or four times just to understand what was happening. The plot was ridiculously convoluted (honestly...I couldn't even explain it to you if I tried) and the magic system made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. It kept getting harder and harder for me to keep track of characters' motivations. Not only that, but big reveals are staged poorly and cryptically, so that I was never really sure if we had actually figured out something significant or not. By the end I found I did not care one whit what happened to anyone because I had no idea what was going on or why anyone was doing anything.

The basic idea here is...fine, I guess? It's your standard "magic corrupts" and "kingdom poisoned by magic" only this magic apparently turns people into zombie-like creatures or...addicts? Or were they the same thing? I'm not sure; to be honest I stopped paying much attention halfway through the book and began to skim huge chunks. Like, it's not a bad idea, but I've seen it around before and its execution here was pretty cut-and-dry. Also, magic is...transferred via skin to skin contact? Or something? And there's four different types of magicians? But their powers aren't always distinct? Or something? Again, major confusion, and I'm a seasoned fantasy reader, so I'm used to having to take on complex world and magic systems. This was just messy.

The other thing is that the bulk of Faris' motivation is that she wants to save her sister Cadence, who is being used as collateral to guarantee her loyalty to Bryn. Unfortunately, we don't get a chance to see them interacting. The single chapter/scene where they interact shows Cadence being kind of bratty and Faris somewhat annoyed. I mean, in conjunction with some other scenes this would have been fine, but on its own it doesn't really showcase a beloved bond that Faris would risk her life for. I felt little for either of these characters, even though on paper I should have liked Faris. The only character I was interested in was the king's executioner, Alistair, but he features for only a couple of chapters.

Overall I really did not connect with this book at all. I found it to be a run-of-the-mill YA fantasy complete with instalove, and I really struggled to get through it, The only things I appreciated were the writing, which was often beautiful if somewhat inscrutable, and that Taranta is not shy about blood and gore, which gave this a more mature feel than it would have otherwise had.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book!
Profile Image for Maggie ☘.
530 reviews648 followers
October 21, 2018

I think that Shimmer and Burn is the kind of book that doesn't know for ceratin what it is. It doesn't know what direction it's going towards. And therefor I don't know what to think abut this book either honestly. I didn't love it, but didn't hate it either. It was just a strange experience. Kind of like so many other YA books I've read, but also not.. Just all over the place. Also, world building is hella confusing.


“What if after all this time, it wasn't the beast in the dungeon I needed to fear, but the beauty who lived in the castle above him?”

An entertaining debut fantasy novel that isn't without its flaws, but keeps one reading nonethless. The storyline was intriguing and I was definitely hooked from the start. The main character was all right, North was a great love interest - the romance overall was enjoyable and I'm interested to see where it's going in the next book. Who I thought was the most promising character, though, was Alistair, the King's executioner and mad scientist who we didn't see nearly enough of.
The writing style wasn't anything amazing and the magic system was written in a way that made it interesting, but also weird and a bit confusing. All in all, interested to see how it all ends.

“It’s almost too easy, it’s almost too fast. An instant is all it takes to scar my soul down to the bone as the echo of my choice screams through the trees.
There are monsters in Avinea.”
Profile Image for Take Me Away To A Great Read.
498 reviews3 followers
August 8, 2017
Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with an advanced review copy of Shimmer and Burn for an honest review.

Shimmer and Burn has swoon, magic and heart-break, while on a journey to discovery what is really important and worth fighting for. This book is seriously one of the best books I have read in so long!!! I am hoping for so much more to come from this series or this author, this is exciting to see that this is her debut and is this great.

FULL REVIEW GO TO: https://takemeawaytoagreatread.com/20...
Profile Image for Plot Monster.
132 reviews51 followers
February 8, 2018
Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta has 336 pages and was published in 2017 by Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Shimmer and Burn is a fantastically creative and unique story.  It is filled with so many plot twists it is guaranteed to keep readers on the edge of their seat.

The writing in this novel is superb.  Taranta does an amazing job of telling Faris's story.  The plot is fast-paced and full of twists and turns.  Her style of world-building is lush and vivid.  The characters are engaging and interesting.

The only reason that I gave it a rating of 4 instead of 5 is because there are so many plot twists that it can become confusing at times.  This is not a particularly quick read.  There are so many minute details you need to really focus while reading this in order not to miss any pertinent details.

Shimmer and Burn is an exceptional debut novel that I would recommend to fans of fantasy and magic.  As a warning, this book does contain some blood and gore.  Not necessarily a read for those who are triggered by violence.

For discussion visit link: Plot Monster on 02/09/18.
Profile Image for Hetal.
732 reviews94 followers
January 4, 2019
[ ALERT: Can't remember what happened in Shimmer and Burn?
Visit my new blog Recap the Rapture for in-depth recaps of some of your favorite books!]

To see more reviews, considering taking a peek at my first in series YA book blog here

Shimmer and Burn was everything I wanted and never knew I needed.

Bryn: A villain you love to hate but isn't what you expected.

Faris: A female protagonist who knows you must live to fight another day and that some battles must be lost. She has lost many. Many battles, Many people, and many parts of herself.

North: A boy who is more-so much more- but pretending to be less. Less than he is. Less than he could be.

There is set up for a potential love triangle in book 2, but I desperately hope it is written well and not an annoying bunch of miscommunications and cold shoulders based on untruths, assumptions, or the suddenly whimsical nature of the protagonists.

Magic, reluctant romance, ursurping kingdoms, and curses...all done in the softest writing possible. It is a tale of desperation that burns within Bryn- for power, North- for peace, and Faris- for her only remaining family.

You will be desperate for book 2 in this series. I know I am.
Profile Image for Aoi.
769 reviews74 followers
September 27, 2017
Antenna wave theory is much more easier to follow than the convoluted magic systems present in Shimmer and Burn. The plot points and 'world building' are just window dressing to a second-hand, hastily assembled junkyard of a shop. After some time, I tend to care a rat's ass about the protagonist and her whiny-sorry excuse of a sister.

Barely survived, but lived to DNF @20%
Profile Image for TheYALibrarian.
295 reviews133 followers
August 15, 2017

Rating 2.5 stars

Well this book took me ages to finish. I honestly wasn't very invested in the story after the first chapter. At least not until the very end. I'm usually not one to be against depressing plot lines or even be bothered by them. I'm all for YESSS MAKE THE MAIN CHARACTER SUFFER MWAHAHA!!! but it was too much for me that Thaelan ended up dead and Cadence a puppet. Yes it really moved the plot forward in Faris's revenge but jeez that was harsh double whammy.

There's the matter of Faris Locke is just another Caleana Sardothien wannabe. All badass and cold-hearted defense but when it comes to men she loses all self control. When North came along she tried to rebel against her feelings and remember her feeling for the late Thaelen. But love won and that is usually not a bad thing. But in the case of Faris it really made her stray from her goal of trying to free Cadence which is pretty shitty of her. Her sister is a puppet on a string and she is too focused on swooning over North to really care about it much. Talk about sister of the year if it was my sister I would have stopped at nothing and fuck any man that I encountered along the way.

There's also the matter of Princess Bryn. She is a villain I did not care enough to have the love to hate relationship I have with well written bad guys. She was just super manipulative to Faris and everybody. The only thing that I mildly liked was her ambition. She was going to be queen and no one was going to get in her way. Other than that meh.

What also didn't work for me was the setting. Everything was so vague that I had no idea what time period it could be or if this was a whole world made up or just a certain region? Didn't really get the history of the Burn and why it is happening. It was liked it was trying to be interesting and unique like the Grishaverse but failed miserably.

So after all that there was only a few things that gave this book stars:

The concept of magic being sold and existing inside someone in a form of threads is really interesting. Also the spell that was put on Faris that made her bound to Bryn was fascinating as well. But the threads of magic can also be poisoned and have to be extracted into another person or object which made the plot more interesting as it infected Faris and almost killed her and it almost killed North as well.

Speaking of North I liked that he wasn't being described as a really good looking guy. His hands were deformed and his body thin and lanky. That was unique in itself since the guy is always the sexy god like creature that the female protagonist can't help but drool over. It also made him more real. It was a great twist too when he turned out to be Prince Corbin, something I did not see coming. So with all this combined I started to really care about him as the story progressed.

Despite its flaws I am interested enough to read the sequel. Why? Because the ending was great! Faris finally got her priorities straight and now with her sister just out of reach she is going to stop at nothing to get her back and leaving her feelings for North behind.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Bright Star.
396 reviews125 followers
January 10, 2018
What a book! Shimmer and Burn was such an incredible reading! We have political intrigues (which were never boring), strong characters, slow burn romance and plot twists! Fortunately, it didn't end with a strong cliffhanger, but you want the second and final book right now anyway!
Profile Image for Iryna KL.
234 reviews47 followers
June 26, 2017
Disclaimer - I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher - thank you publisher.

Shimmer and Burn was completely not what I was expecting.

The book follows a story of Faris, a young woman whose mother tries to kill her when she was eight years old. It is set in a kingdom that has isolated itself because of "the plague" that ravages the neighboring kingdom of Avenia where magic has gone putrid and kills those that come in contact with it. However, life in Brindaigel (Faris' home) is not easy; there are limited resources, people getting killed to make room for more people, her father who would rather drink than take care of his daughters, and a law which prevents Faris from marrying the man whom she loves (he's a higher status than her). So, they conspire to escape through the tunnels and risk the plague in Avenia in order to be together. However, not everything goes as planned and Faris' sister and her lover get caught. Now Faris must make a bargain to save her little sister with the devil himself - the princess of Brindaigel - Bryn.


Let me tell you - a more despicable fictional character I have never met than Bryn. That girl is the embodiment of self-entitlement, cruelty and cunning. And oh how much I hate her. I thought that as they would journey on, she would warm up and maybe some of the kindness would show, but oh no, she just kept on getting worse.

What I really liked is that Faris is not the usual "OMG I'm the chosen one, with incredible superpowers, I am here to save the world" main character. She is a regular girl, plagued by some really bad things, who loves her sister and who is trying to understand why her own mother would try to kill her. She can be kind and she can be cruel, and she is oh so human. I loved Faris, she is a breath of fresh air in the world of YA Fantasy.

And of course I loved both, North (a righteous young magician) and the Executiioner (his counterpart). I also loved that some of the twists and turns I really could not see coming. And the take on magic system, and the price of magic was very interesting. Gruesome and dark, but interesting.

What I wasn't thrilled about is that all men fall for Faris on sight. I mean okay, raging hormones, sure, but the three main male characters all fall for her? And while I liked the general idea of the magic, the details left me a bit confused, and I had to re-read the passages about the cost of magic a few times to understand the slight differences between infected and hellbound. And most of the infected/hellbound reminded me on junkies on heroin/and zombies, forever craving more, selling anything or anyone to get a fix, eating people who are not infected, not being in control of their own emotions. I mean it was pretty gruesome to read some of the passages, which is why I said that this book was not what I expected. This is definitely dark fantasy.

All that being said - I really want to know what happens in the next book and I will be on the lookout for it.
Profile Image for Lisa.
705 reviews11 followers
November 1, 2017
Talk about a dismal existence, geesh!! This was pretty cool, magic could be and was a poison and man if it wasn't just creepy and having hold your breath moments. Theres some good twists and turns. This story is just getting started and I will happily be reading the next. I loved Faris and North and pretty much most of the people in this but the princess, what a heartless and cruel bitch, karma needs to visit her and the punk ass king!! Obviously, this story stirred my emotions!!!
Profile Image for Christina (christinareads_).
101 reviews9 followers
November 22, 2017
Review also on Christina Reads and Blogs

When I finished this book, I thought about giving it 2.5 stars, but as I thought more, I figured I’m going to read the sequel to see what happens next. So why not add that extra .5 star. I was disappointed by Shimmer and Burn. I had high hopes. The plot is intriguing and that cover is beautiful. But as I read more, I realized I wasn’t going to like it as much as I wanted to.

Stuck in a kingdom surrounded by mountains, Faris only wishes to escape and be free. When a tragic night not only makes that impossible but takes the only people she loves, she now has to fight in order to get her sister back. The executioner comes to her with a deal: she will accompany Princess Bryn and smuggle magic into Avinea, the “corrupted” land, in order to secure an alliance to get Bryn’s father off the throne. If she succeeds, she will win back her sister. But as she begins her journey, Faris realizes she got more than she bargained for with the sadistic princess in charge of her. When they meet North, a magician who is hiding secrets of his own, Faris needs to determine who to trust and how to make it out of the schemes alive.

Faris starts out as this powerful character, a fighter who tries to do what she can for her sister. Which is how she ends up wrapped up in Bryn’s scheme. Once her “servitude” starts, she became less powerful in my eyes. Still determined, but after some of the things she does, she grows to hate more, especially herself. And no one can really help her come to terms with anything, so it festers. And Bryn has her on a leash, more or less, so it’s not like she can be defiant. It was sad to me to see Farisin the beginning, even after the tragedy struck, a stubborn, proud character to someone who had to bend to Bryn’s will as much as she could. Maybe that’s an unfair assessment of her, and maybe she’ll develop in a different way in the sequel, but she kind of bothered me at some points.

I also had a hard time connecting with her relationship with her sister. Maybe because we only see her for like six pages before everything goes wrong. I understand Faris’s plight in saving her sister, I connected with that. But I didn’t really feel anything beyond that. She does all these things for her sister, but we don’t see the Cadence Faris knows, not enough to really feel more for her.

Bryn… I know she’s not meant to be a positive character, or someone we can get close to. But literally every time things might be ok, or there was a way out for Faris, Bryn was there, shoving us back down the hole of misery with her sociopathic nature. It seemed like the author threw characters in just to add chaos (Kellig, I’m looking at you) and Bryn was used an insane amount. Get it. Insane.

I didn’t understand the world as much as I wanted to. I felt like a lot of words were thrown around, and I couldn’t keep up, or I had to reread sections to understand what was happening. I understood the two main kingdoms, but beyond that, I had to go back to understand. I also had a hard time understanding the magic during some sections. For the most part, the laws were creative and I wanted to know more. But then something would happen, and I didn’t get how it was possible.

Also, what was up with the mother? She was explained in the beginning, mentioned throughout in little bits, and then what she did kind of sort of makes sense near the end, but I’m still left with questions.

I found the romance lacking. I didn’t feel a connection at all between North and Faris. When something did happen, it wasn’t like my mind thought, “FINALLY!” If anything, I thought, “Well, another thing that will go horribly wrong for Faris.” This story really seemed to depend on her being unhappy.

That ending also really bothered me. I’m not going to say more, but after all the struggle and the plots, it annoyed me that this book ending like that.

I had a hard time getting into this book and understanding what exactly was happening. And when I did understand, I grew frustrated with how many obstacles were thrown at Faris, and by the weirdest ways sometimes. I’m planning on reading the sequel, if only to see what happens to Faris and her sister next. But I’m not sure I would recommend this book. If you read it, prepare to resign yourself to heartbreak and confusion.
Profile Image for Angela Cuéllar.
876 reviews96 followers
April 1, 2020
pooled ink Reviews:

Oh. My. Word. I am not a huge fan of the cover, but the story???? I NEED the next book and I NEED a happy ending. NOW.

Shimmer and Burn is not just another fantasy tale. It’s a story both dark and alluring that will sink its claws into you, dragging addiction into your veins until you’ve devoured the book whole and cling to the edge needing to know more. Absolutely captivating, thrilling, hellish, and delightful, this is a fantasy fresh with creativity and magic just waiting to be read.

Read my FULL review here: https://pooledink.com/2017/07/07/shim...
Profile Image for Kelsey.
45 reviews2 followers
April 30, 2019
Awesome book; it's a shame I have to wait a whole year for the next one! I loved the imagery of the book and how it really allowed me to make pictures in my mind while I read. I also really liked the character development and a few plot twists. In the beginning some of the lingo was difficult to follow, but I think it was pretty easy to catch on to. Great debut book Mary Taranta!
Profile Image for Kimberly.
784 reviews91 followers
October 29, 2017
Thank you @kidlitexchange for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.

I really enjoying reading young adult fantasy. In fact, I read quite a few books in this genre a year and I’ve never come across one quite like this before! The writing is really well done. Taranta has created a setting full of hidden kingdoms and complex storylines with truly unique characteristics. The magical elements in this story were fascinating and definitely held my curiosity. You have clean magic, poisonous magic and spells cast binding characters to one another. It’s dark, gory and very addictive.

The characters were all very intriguing. Faris is a great lead. She’s strong, in many ways, and it was interesting to watch her past story intertwine with the present one. North is a gentleman which you don’t find too often in YA male leads. I fell for him fast and even guessed his secret quite early. Bryn is the perfect character that you love to hate. She’s incredibly manipulative, yet you never quite know if she’s good or evil. I’m still unsure about Alistair. He has a lot of layers and I was drawn to the mysteriousness that surrounds him the moment he was introduced. I’m hoping he will have a more prodominate role in the next book.

It is an intense book. The settings and situations definitely have a darkness behind them, but I don’t mind that. There are a few vulgar words thrown in and some scenes are violently descriptive so be forewarned if that typically bothers you. This writing style feels like an older fantasy which is refreshing to see. The ending has quite a few loose ends where all of the main characters meet up again setting up the sequel perfectly. I’m definitely curious to see how several of these storylines develop!
Profile Image for Lulai.
1,253 reviews158 followers
October 1, 2017
Super fun and dark book.
The world building is grimmed between the mind control and the poisonous magic. I really enjoy Faris, she make mistake but she only want to do good and at least she try.
And this book remind me of the Graceling serie by Kristin Cashore.
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