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Hollow Crown #1


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I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.

Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King's Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata's ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King's Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.

Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred--or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned "hollow" during her time in the palace.

When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez's top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.

But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom--and end the war that has cost her everything.

450 pages, Hardcover

First published April 28, 2020

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About the author

Zoraida Córdova

35 books4,018 followers
Zoraida Córdova is the author of many fantasy novels for kids and teens, including the award-winning Brooklyn Brujas series, Incendiary, and Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge: A Crash of Fate. Her short fiction has appeared in the New York Times bestselling anthology Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, Star Wars The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark, Come on In: 15 Stories About Immigration and Finding Home, and Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft. She is the co-editor of the bestselling anthology Vampires Never Get Old. Her debut middle grade novel is The Way to Rio Luna. She is the co-host of the podcast Deadline City with Dhonielle Clayton. Zoraida was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. When she isn’t working on her next novel, she’s planning a new adventure.

NOTE: Direct messages on this account may not be seen. Send her an email at zoraidabooks@gmail.com

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5 stars
2,108 (27%)
4 stars
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3 stars
1,733 (22%)
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118 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,577 reviews
Profile Image for jessica.
2,535 reviews32.6k followers
May 5, 2020
this is a very read-worthy story, in the way that most YA fantasy books tend to be. but i am unconvinced that this offers anything new to the genre.

its quite tropetastic - a minority group with magical abilities is hunted/persecuted by the royalty in power, one girl has a unique and sought-after ability, a group of rebels seek to bring down the kingdom, the girl works to ruin those who rule from the inside, a prince who has secrets of his own, and a bunch of predictable little twists and turns along the way.

tropes arent necessarily a bad thing - im even a fan of a lot of these particular tropes - but this is just another variation of a story that i have read countless of times before. so even though i quite enjoyed reading it in the moment, the plot and characters dont really stand out to me.

that being said, you know i will want to get my hands on a copy of the sequel when it comes out. theres just something about easy YA fantasy stories that draws me in.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,202 reviews40.8k followers
February 25, 2021
This is not great but it is still good, original, captivating!

I truly cried liked a baby and maturely threw my remote controller against the wall and I cried more because I have no idea how to turn on the TV without it, after getting my rejection from the NetGalley for this book.

I looked at the beautiful cover and sniffed more as if I’m looking at the photo of unrequited lover. Nope, it was something more torturing like looking at the cases of selected wines’ photos and price lists when you don’t have enough limits at your cards! That’s how painful for me looking at the cover of this book.

Finally I waited for the release day and purchased my book (still murmuring something behind my gritted teeth: I think the publishing company crew’s ears started ringing at the very same moment. Yes, I am never good at getting rejections.)

First of all; I found the idea of heroine’s super power: ripping out your memories when she has no idea about her own past was brilliant and so sad at the same time. Her name is Renata Convida, worst thief you may ever imagine, stealing your memories you need to hold on to: sometimes something emotional or sometimes something dangerous like political secrets, strategies of attack.
She was kidnapped by King’s Justice when she was little and became prisoner of Andalucia because the people were afraid of her ability/super power/curse and they wanted to control her but she achieves to escape and join the Whispers, having intimate relationship with Dez, their commander of the unit.

But now Dez is captured by villain, merciless Sangrado Prince. She has to do whatever it takes to save him even it means she puts herself in dangerous position by accepting an undercover mission. She needs to sharpen her acting skills and deceive her old captors and make them sure she changed her side and loyal to the prince when only thing she truly desires is cutting their off.

The promising idea of being memory thief which is a gift with truly high price is well-written even though I got a little bit of lost with uncertain rhythm of the pacing: at some parts, we witness the inner fights of Renata who feels like walk in the dark without knowing her direction because she has no idea who she is, where she is coming from. She barely gathers some memories to merge them with the other crumbles she collected to create a piece of her own past. And she cannot trust anybody because she has no real friend, everybody is scared of her and most of the people in her inner circle want to get rid of her.

At the last third: pacing of the story suddenly fastened and I barely caught the high tempo, breathing hard, getting more excited, flipping the pages non-stop to see what’s gonna happen. And the shocking cliff-hanger falls on your lap like a hot potato! You keep screaming and crying because you need to read more but you realize you already finished the book.

Overall: I enjoyed world-building, well-crafted characterization and likable heroine. This is a great, promising, fresh start of the series. I think I cannot wait to read the second installment!

Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
December 8, 2020
2.5 stars

Extra bonus BookTube Video is up - unboxing OwlCrate's Latest bookbox - plus a mini review of May's books - Incendiary and Witchy.

June's Reading Vlog Video is up! Click the link to see where this one ranks (along with all my other June books!
Full written review to come, but in the meantime, enjoy the book box pictures!

The Written Review
“Crooked smiles for crooked hearts.”
It came as no surprise when Renata was stolen. She may have been just a child but she was a Robari.

One of the magical few that can steal memories and keep them as her own - and by possessing those powers, she became very valuable to the crown.
“Sometimes I wonder if a person can have so much regret they'll drown in it.”
At first, she thought she was helping the King, which was a good thing (of course) but as she grew older, the true horror of what she had done dawned on her.

Thousands of her own people. Dead.

Desperate to atone for her sins, Renata became a Whisper - one of the select rebel spies determined to bring down the crown.
“They're afraid. Fear makes people do things they normally wouldn't. Like share a drink with someone they despise.”
But when the commander of her unit (and her friend) Dez is captured by the royal family, Renata knows she must once again make a choice - herself or Dez. Her life or thousands.


This book.

The concept gripped me from the start.

I adored the crafted world - especially the way society and culture were portrayed. And it was interesting to see the secret-society-vs-the-world play out.

The whole stealing-memories-and-internalizing-them-as-your-own is definitely not a new concept but I did enjoy this take on it - mostly the terrible consequences to such a power.

At times the book did feel predictable because...well..what young adult book hasn't featured an ill-conceived rebellion and a forbidden love?

However, the biggest thing that affected my rating here is that the book was over 500 pages. AND it did not need to be that long - the pacing was slowwwww and laborious.

I definitely think if this book was cut down to 400, or even 350 then I would have absolutely LOVED this book. But as it stands, it just took way too much time to make any plot progress.

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,468 reviews9,630 followers
June 16, 2020
Loved the beginning and the rest was pretty good

Now I’m effing pissed!! I got my May Owlcrate today and it’s the same damn book as my April FairyLoot (everyone is behind due to covid, which is fine) and that’s two of the same books I’ve gotten from each the past two boxes. This doesn’t happen that I often, but I may have to cancel one or the other after all these years 😕

Well my April FairyLoot just got here and while I love the sprayed edges, I like the cover with the girl on it better! Of course, I’ll probably hate the book since it is cool looking!! There’s art under the dust jacket too... look ..

Profile Image for Zoraida.
Author 35 books4,018 followers
April 5, 2020
UPDATE 3/18/20
After much deliberation, we have decided to cancel the tour. Due to the CDC's recommendation to cancel or postpone events for 8 weeks, we don't want to risk the public safety of any reader. I'm so heartbroken to have to do this, but I hope that you still pre-order the book and share it! The book will still be published April 28th.



UPDATE 3/5/20
I'M GOING ON TOUR! I hope I get to see you at one of the stops.


UPDATE 11/27/19:
We have ARCs! If you've like a chance at a copy request via Netgalley or Edelweiss if you're a librarian/bookseller.


UPDATE 9/8/19:

The cover will be revealed 9/9/19 on B&N teen blog!


I haven't talked about this book enough. We now have an official date April 28th, 2020! A *fiery* cover is coming soon ;)

If you've been waiting and watching, just know that I've been working on it for the last two years. We sold it in 2017 and it has been a journey in the best way. Sometimes when you start with one idea, it evolves and changes until you have something you're completely proud of. This is definitely more violent than any of the books you might be used to from me, so if you're sensitive to that, heads up! The violence reflects the world Ren grew up in. While it's a departure from my Brooklyn Bruja books, I hope you recognize my voice.

Ren and the Kingdom of Puerto Leones are in my heart now and I can't wait for you to meet her.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,202 reviews40.8k followers
Want to read
February 10, 2020
I already gave my votive offerings to the Ancient Gods and performed ritual dances when I lost my hope of request's acceptance from my Fairy God Mother NetGalley and Goodreads Giveaway campaigns! It's torturous to wait for the normal release date. I wish I had a soul to sale for early reading chance of this book!

And last minute update: I got rejection 🤦🏻‍♀️😰😰I should cancel my Disney Plus membership!! Oh, I am not member! Yes, that’s a relief!!!😂😂😂
Profile Image for Samantha.
417 reviews16.7k followers
March 16, 2021
2.5 stars

tw: torture; gore

While this book had a good premise, the execution of a lot of the elements was lacking. This felt like a second book more than the first book in a series. It felt like it started in the wrong place. There could have been a whole other book before this that laid a foundation, built character motivations, and made relationships more believable. That would have made this story stronger in my opinion.

The first 1/3 of this book is very slow, and I almost gave up on it because of how little I cared. The later half of the book is much more court intrigue, which I enjoyed more. However, our main character of Renata is... frustrating. She makes a lot of decisions without any reason to back it up, and largely ignores the hints that are right in front of her face. Even by the end, some of her reactions to things don't make sense. Because we also don't have a lot of time with the side characters, those relationships don't feel very fleshed out as well.

Additionally, the world-building was much more flat than I expected. There are multiple elements that are not at all explained when it could be a very cool part of the story.

Ultimately, although I enjoyed some thing about the middle and end of this book, I don't think I care enough to continue on with this series.
Profile Image for Emma.
976 reviews976 followers
April 14, 2020
Renata Convida has a special type of magic. The kind that can rip your memories away. She can take a little: your first kiss, your biggest loss, the secret codes of a rebel army… Or she can take it all. Make you a ‘hollow’, nothing more than a shell of who you used to be. Ren is everyone’s nightmare. But now she works for the Whispers, renegades fighting against the persecution of those with magic, the Moria. Not an easy task when it emanates from the highest echelons of society. When her commander and lover is captured by the Prince, she vows to rescue him. But things are not quite as they seem and Renata is going to have to find the answers in herself before she can truly help anyone else.

This a deceptive, thoughtful read. One that morphs from one thing to another, moulded by the protagonist’s path of discovery. It gives the book its own kind of investigative momentum, with the reader learning at her pace. Ren might hold the memories of hundreds of others, but she has lost so many of her own, hidden within the Grey that blocks her from her past. Her remembering is the story. The narrative changes, she changes, as this process unfolds, as she evolves from what others tell her she is, to who she really is… and who she wants to be. It’s for this reason that the point of view is, and has to be, determinedly hers, a perspective characterised by her position as perpetual outsider. She has never been trusted, never been truly safe. Both her usefulness a weapon and as an inescapable danger to others shapes their every interaction with her. That, plus her lack of ability to recall her own story, makes her a volatile character, often reactionary and emotional. In seeing her flawed and floundering, it is impossible not to think about how the choices we make are based on what we know, what we’ve learned. Take that personal journey away and it would be like trying build our identity, our very selves, out of rumour and dreams. There’d be nothing solid to hold on to. It's an idea, a feeling, communicated in the book's opener, set up like you’re starting in the middle of something. Though there was a moment of disconnection, when I just had to quickly check that I hadn’t missed a book, the author’s reasoning became ever more clear as I read further. It makes sense to give the reader a taste of what Ren feels: the challenge of not knowing what came before. It creates a shared experience. The blanks are filled in for reader and Renata together, finding out that way brings us closer.

This structure gives the plot a somewhat uneven pacing, but the battery of revelations during the finale was perfectly pitched. There was so much awesome in this last bit. My heart nearly couldn’t take it. While the hints had probably been clearer to the reader than the main character, the way the reveals were piled on each other in the final section gave it a punchy feeling. The new direction offers a real freshness and a much more interesting cast list. There's no doubt I'll be reading what comes next.

ARC via Netgalley
Profile Image for Tani.
245 reviews256 followers
June 9, 2020

Incendiary is set in Inquisition-era Spain where the royal family of Puerto Leones are recklessly determined to kill the magical people called Moria. Renata Convida, a memory thief, was kidnapped by the royals to help them kill her own people. After being free from the royal's cage, she works for the Whispers, a rebel group formed by Moria. When Dez, the leader of her unit gets kidnapped by Prince Castian, Renata has to enter royal palace to save him. Oh, I forgot to mention that Dez and Renata are lovers.

This book is the perfect example of a trope done right. It has incessant pace pervading the action-packed, suspenseful story. It brims with strategic characters with dubious intentions, the undertone of hypocrisy in the empires and the same ol' lovely politics. The book switches from the present to the memories stolen by Renata and her own. The world building and magical system was a bit bland for my taste. The book overwhelms with the deliberately overloaded plot twists which may bring polarising response from the readers. The protagonist, Renata, is strong and fierce but inconsistent with her wit. The romance was only used to give motivation to the protagonist's revenge. The life of Prince Castian and his intentions is the real piece of cake. The ending was anticlimactic yet I want to grab the next book.
Profile Image for Lucy.
415 reviews612 followers
June 10, 2020
I am a shadow. I am a drop of ink. Vengeance in the night. I am a Robari.

While this wasn’t the most original of fantasy books- a rebellion plot, it was unique in its own way.

Ren is a Robari and part of the Moira people- people who have “magical” abilities, whether this be persuading others emotions, illusions, mindreading or the most rare: the ability to steal memories. The Robari have the ability to steal memories and for this they are feared. Steal too many memories and a person is left to become a husk.

The Moira people under the King’s rule are a persecuted people- people who have had to gone into hiding due to executions and imprisonment. Ren is part of the rebellion of the Moira that are left... however she wasn’t always part of this group. Ren is unique, she spent some of her childhood in the palace under the Justice’s watchful eye, learning more about her ability and being used as a weapon. When the boy she loves deeply is taken into the Kings palace by the bloodlust-filled Prince Cassian, Ren will stop at nothing to get him back, even if it means going into the heart of a place she’s been taught to hate.

Ren was an interesting character as we get to see her grapple with the questioning of her belonging: her loyalties to the Moira people and their fear of her ability, and her previous loyalty to the Justice, who treated her as a daughter. Ren also has a difficult time with her memory, taking others memories will do that, so she has an issue of determining which memories are hers and which ones are from other people.

Ren is mistrusted, unsure of where she belongs, and frightened with the force of her power. All she knows is that she must succeed, even if it means betraying the orders of those closest to her.

I really loved the magic in this book. Ren had the most interesting power. This book was unique as the MC had been part of the rebellion and under the watchful eye in the Kings Palace. I found that the political set up and the rebellion were really well done in this. This book also finished in an intriguing place so I’ll definitely be picking up the second one!
Profile Image for Lia Carstairs.
409 reviews2,201 followers
November 23, 2020
Actual Rating: ⭐⭐.5
Wow, I so called that.

I think I've gotten tired of the whole "MC is a rebel who goes undercover to help overthrow the evil tyrant on the throne." Not that I hate it or anything, but I've read too many of them—most of them I liked, but this one......eh.🤷‍♀️

I kinda hate how we got no new information from what we already knew in the synopsis until over halfway through the book. It pretty much made it hard to get through the beginning. It did start to get good from that point, but some of the twists were pretty obvious. Though I didn't see some stuff coming like .

Renata has the power to steal memories from people and once they're stolen they can never be returned. Her power is pretty cool, but Ren herself........she was am 'okay' MC, though she annoyed me sometimes. I love Leo though. It seems like all the Leos I've read about are always charming and the best. I found Lady Nuria more entertaining then the MC herself.🤦‍♀️

I'm curious to see where things are headed after that ending, so I shall await for the next book.

However.......I feel that a love triangle is brewing up in the next book, though this only a guess.
Profile Image for Rebecca Roanhorse.
Author 60 books7,634 followers
January 22, 2021
4.5 stars. Another YA fantasy that I very much enjoyed. It starts with a bang, slows a bit and then really ramps up with an unexpected murder about 10 chapters in, and from there it's pretty nonstop. The story was wonderfully plotted and has lots of great twists and turns that keeps the reader on their toes. The magic system was unique and the MC's power has some wonderful consequences and implications that had me thinking, well after I was done. The relationship between the MC and her "mentor" was great and the right level of creepy. I loved the ending and where book 2 is clearly going. Will be reading that one, too.
Profile Image for Sabrina.
476 reviews245 followers
Want to read
May 23, 2018

“...loosely based on the Spain of the 15th century, reimagining the Inquisition...”

Assassin’s Creed anyone?

Profile Image for Umairah (Sereadipity).
212 reviews108 followers
June 16, 2020
4.5 stars

Incendiary was an action-packed fantasy set in a world inspired by 15th century Spain, reimagining the Inquisition. While it had many of the tropes that are common in YA fantasy such as a main character with rare/ special powers it didn't feel boring or unoriginal to me and managed to make those common tropes exciting.

One of my favourite aspects of the book was the magic system. It was heavily based on the senses and the mind which is not something I see often (most magic systems I've seen are more physical or elemental). In the book, the kingdom of Puerto Leones conquered neighbouring Memoria and sought to wipe out its magically gifted people, the Moria. They had magical abilities of four types: Robári (can take people's memories), Persuári (can influence and bring people's emotions to life), Ventári (can tell if someone is lying) and Illusionári (capable of conjuring illusions). Moria with no magic were called Olvidados.

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 4.5/5
Writing: 4.5/5

Moria were feared, hunted, persecuted and killed by the crown of Puerto Leones and the Robári were the most feared of them all. Which brings us to our main character, Renata Convida, a Robári who was kidnapped by the King's Justice as a child and was used to steal memories from royal enemies. Memories that contained information leading to the deaths of thousands of Moria. However, the Moria rebels (called the Whispers) rescued her and let her join their ranks but they never let her have their trust. When Dez, the commander of her unit and the only person who truly trusted and cared about Ren, was captured, Ren had to go under cover and complete his mission no matter the cost.

Ren's character development was amazing and I really felt sorry for her. Her mind was filled with so many stolen memories yet she couldn't remember so many of her own. Her people would never forget her actions that caused so much harm and pain and she lived with the burden of that guilt even though her actions were the result of manipulation as a child. Her relationship with the King's Justice was so twisted- how could she hate him when he was good to her? How could she love him when he made her do monstrous deeds she didn't understand at the time? This conflict inside her led to her need to prove she was capable and worthy of trust and every time she failed the pain deepened

I did predict the majority of the plot twists but they were still quite thrilling and there were still a couple of shocking twists I didn't see coming. Incendiary was a gripping fantasy full of espionage and betrayal that you don't want to miss.

I interviewed Zoraida Córdova for the Incendiary blog tour- read it here!
Profile Image for Sophie.
458 reviews187 followers
January 20, 2023
Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

It took me a while to get into the book because not a lot was going on but the end is so fast paced that I burned through it. There were a lot of twists and while I was able to guess most of them, I stayed entertained. I also thought the magic with the use of memories and how that played out with the story was cool. That being said, I wish that the magic and world had been better explained. So much of the story seemed dependent on drama. It almost felt like this was book 2 of a story rather than book 1. I love a good slow burn but that's not even what this was, it just felt underdeveloped. I also thought that the characters weren't very memorable.

I will probably check out book 2 because I am curious where the story is going to go, but this isn't something I'd probably reread.
Profile Image for Alex (The Scribe Owl).
349 reviews109 followers
February 13, 2021
It wasn't that I didn't like this book. I did, for the most part. The problem was that it wasn't anything new. It was a little troupe heavy. There. Said it. This book was one massive troupe! I'm a little sick of the whole undercover rebel infiltration the royals thing at this point. I even see a love triangle coming in the next book!

I read the synopsis for a book before I read it. That's a normal thing. Then why do we not get any more information past the synopsis until halfway through the book? It's almost as if the synopsis had to reach that far to find something interesting, which I agree with. There's a lot of worldbuilding and not too much explaining going on, so I guess all that had to be skipped. Honestly though, it's almost like the synopsis was spoiling it. Take my advice and don't read the synopsis!

The writing style was fine, the worldbuilding was fine, the concept was fine, the characters were fine--everything was fine. But nothing really stood out and made me think, "wow, this is actually a good book." It's definitely read-worthy, and keep in mind that three stars is not a bad rating, but it's not the best. Notice the writing style was so lacking in good quotes that I don't have any in my review because I literally could not find any. The best thing going for this book was Leo. Stellar character and I love him so much.

I know that this review sounds super negative, but I did enjoy reading it. It may not be the most original book or anything, but I did have a good time.

Content and trigger warnings:
Arson, blood, death, loss of a loved one, suicidal thoughts, torture, trauma, violence, and war themes.
Profile Image for Jypsy .
1,524 reviews60 followers
May 5, 2020
Thank you Fantastic Flying Fiction Book Club and NetGalley for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

Hollow Crown #1
By: Zoraida Córdova

REVIEW ☆☆☆☆☆

"I thank the goddess every day that the Whispers came for me. Who would I be if I had never left? A monster. A killer."

These words, spoken by Renata Convida, are at the heart of Incendiary. Ren is quite special because she is one of the Moria, those possessing magic, and her magic is rare. Ren is a Robari, meaning she has the ability to steal memories from anyone, in part or in whole. If all are taken, the person becomes a Hollow. When Ren was young, the King stole her and weaponized her. She has been used for terrible deeds her entire life. Fortunately, the Whispers, a band of Moria rebels, rescue Ren. Even among her own people, however, Ren is adrift. No one trusts her because of her past. First a weapon, and now, an outsider, Ren has no place in the world and doesn't know who she is. Ren's own memories are muddled with memories stolen, so she lacks an anchor to tie her to her roots. Slowly, Ren remembers and pieces together her life. This girl is powerful and dangerous, but unwanted and despised for things beyond control. Ren changes as she recalls, and her confidence grows, as well as her self reliance. When a mission goes south, Ren must infiltrate the very place from which she was rescued. How will returning affect Ren? Make her stronger or tear her down? No matter what transpires, Ren must hold tightly to her true self and own every aspect of her being, else all may be lost. This story is absolutely amazing in every way. Cordova has crafted a world of magic and evil at odds. The characters could step out of the book into reality because they are so, well, real. Ren, raw with emotion, tears at your heart in so many ways, and I loved her. Incendiary is a favorite of mine this year, and I encourage everyone to read it, even if you aren't a fan of ya fantasy, etc. because it's awesome.
Profile Image for 8stitches 9lives.
2,785 reviews1,626 followers
April 29, 2020
Incendiary is the first instalment in the proposed Hollow Crown series and showcases Zoraida Cordova’s prowess in crafting compelling and richly-imagined young adult fantasy fiction. Set against the backdrop of fifteenth-century Spain during the Inquisition era we are introduced to Renata “Ren” Convida, a Robari who has the power to elicit memories from others with merely a touch leaving them a shell of their former selve. As a valid part of the Moria (those who possess magic) she is feared and shunned by the people/wider society. As magic is banned across the kingdom most practitioners have either been captured by the crown and imprisoned or are in hiding but a clandestine band of rebels, known as The Whispers, are actively working to ensure that those who hold magic powers don’t become extinct and disappear from the make-up of the kingdom entirely.

Ren has an intriguing yet less-than-ideal backstory in that she was kidnapped from her parents as a youngster and shipped to the Royal palace where she was forced to use her magic in a way that was beneficial to the King until she was rescued by The enigmatic Whispers, or, maybe more accurately, by the noble Dez. However, the group are wary and conflicted as to whether they can trust her given her past serving the cruel King who doesn’t think twice about persecuting them. As Ren struggles to reconcile her past actions, under duress or through bribery, with her true feelings about the Royals she must undergo a dangerous mission to infiltrate the palace she once knew as home in order to save Dez, the boy she loves, from a fate she once knew as her own.

This is a captivating fantasy I feel all ages can enjoy despite the YA categorisation, and although it begins in quite a pedestrian manner the pace soon lifts as events kick in. Written in beautiful, flowing and expressive prose, it’s really easy to fly through the pages once you have been introduced to both the world and cast of characters and the Latinx-influenced world is unique and riveting. The worldbuilding is incredibly well done but it’s both the magic system and the characters that make this story as superb as it is; there is more than one method of magic making the whole tale refreshingly original and the characters come alive on the page before your very eyes. Our protagonist Ren is a complex soul who yearns to fit in with her peers but before they will accept her she needs to accept herself and make peace with her past in order to move forward into the future.

I found the whole tale engaging from start to finish and appreciated the original elements Cordova brought to her book which really sets it apart from other fantasies. The action gets going pretty much immediately which allows your attention to be captured from early on yet the story doesn’t lack plot or character development either despite throwing you in at the deep end. The twists that are interspersed throughout are well thought out with some of them really taking me by surprise and there is also an emotional side to it all. A compulsive and fascinating opening instalment has me lusting after the sophomore offering already. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC.
Profile Image for kate.
1,149 reviews927 followers
May 5, 2021
Of course the first fantasy I've read in months that's left me desperately needing more , is the one fantasy I have to wait over a year to even get close to getting my hands on book two but THAT ENDING. I just... AHH.
Profile Image for Lina.
181 reviews145 followers
June 23, 2020

I am a shadow. I am a drop of ink. Vengeance in the night. I am a Robari.

Hello and welcome back to one of my reviews.
It hasn't been a long since the last time I wrote a review, but I have to say for me this is a very different moment, because for the first time in a very very long time, I went speechless and awestruck after I finished it.
First of all, when I discovered this book a few months ago (it wasn't still published), I was astonished by the cover of the book. Can we please talk about the gorgeous cover engulfed in flames and the girl in chains, whom I have no doubt is Renata. And the chains around her clearly symbolize the freedom she doesn't have as a Moria girl.
A beautiful cover and a clear meaning as to what the book has to offer.
And that is full pact of fantasy action, a original idea filled with very complex characters and a promising plot. That is what we all are here for. And trust me, the book lived up to those standards, maybe even more than the necessary.
Zoraida Cordova, if you ever read this review, I thank you for this AMAZING story, with these AMAZING characters. I love everything about this book and I can't wait till the second book comes out.


Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King's Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata's ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King's Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.
Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred--or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned "hollow" during her time in the palace.
When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez's top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it. But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom--and end the war that has cost her everything.


Renata is a very complicated character. She is a girl who was used as a weapon all the time, by the king, by the Whisperers. So by any rights, the girl struggled with trust issues because anyone could betray anyone in her world. When the book actually first started, I didn't know how to feel about her at first, but as the book went on and as I got to know her from her perspective. I realized that she's like any 17 year old girl (despite the fact that she has a very deadly power), she doesn't know who she is, she is slowly discovering herself, realizing her strength and of course her power later on the book. Which was a very well written progress.


Renata's relationship with her former guardian Mendez was the most interesting for me to explore. That relationship really reminded me the one Jude and Maddoc had in 'The Cruel Prince" by Holly Black. If anyone has read "The Cruel Prince", you know what I am talking about, if not I will explain in short sentences.
Mendez does very much "care" in his own twisted way about Renata, but at the same time he uses her as a weapon to torture prisoners and to please his king at the same time. .
And honestly the only healthy relationship Renata had with anyone is with Sayida. I do hope they stay friends, because she seemed really nice and they helped each other during dangerous missions.



Castian was a mix between Cardan from "The Cruel Prince" and Warner from "Shatter me", change my mind. He dressed extravagantly (Cardan is always the person I associate the word extravagancy to), he radiated arrogance (like Warner at the beginning), he taunted everyone with his cruel smiles (remind you of anyone?). And I think I have a thing for blond men with green eyes and blue eyes, shoot me now.


Castian by what we find out about him is that he is not a total asshole. Like Cardan and Warner, there is a great depth to his character and the arrogant image we get from him is just this grand illusion created for his father and his loyal servants.
We also find out how he is also connected to Renata, and that for instance is a relationship that I would like to explore even more in the next book. There is a lot of sexual tension there, and when they both come together is just explosive (very much like Jude and Cardan). So I am #TeamCastian all the way, I think he is the better man.

“This prince whose friendship made the palace a little less lonely for a moria girl. the prince whom i’ve spent half my life hating.”



Other supportive characters were all very written well. From all of them I have to say that I loved Nuria the most. I think there is more to that character, her history and just the whole mystery that surrounds her. Syida is someone who I also liked, I think she would have been a great help to the main character. And don't get me started on Dez, the guy was alright, he kind of reminded me of Mal from "Shadow and Bone", which annoyed me, but then again he was less annoying then Mal. Still, Nuria was faarrrr superior than all of them and she may not be the queen, but she is definitely the queen of my heart.


Profile Image for sana.
351 reviews286 followers
October 6, 2021

“this prince whose friendship made the palace a little less lonely for a moria girl. the prince whom i’ve spent half my life hating.”

the plot of this book was really interesting. also if i'm right this duology is serving childhood friends to strangers to enemies to lovers and i'm so here for it!!! #TeamCastian
Profile Image for Breanna.
503 reviews177 followers
May 14, 2020
THIS REVIEW & MORE → Paws and Paperbacks

What is this book about? Incendiary is set in a world loosely based on the Spanish Inquisition in which the royal family of Puerto Leones seeks to find and kill all Moria–people possessing magical powers. Renata once lived and worked in the palace as a child, but was rescued and is now a part of the Whispers, Moria rebel spies working against the crown.

What did I like? One of my favorite aspects about this book was the worldbuilding. I really loved the Spanish Inquisition-era setting. The magical system was well thought out and executed. This was my first book by Zoraida Córdova and I really enjoyed her writing and descriptions; it was very easy to find myself transported into the pages of the story while reading. I’ve read a few complaints in other reviews that Incendiary felt like a second story and readers were too confused at the start, but I would have to disagree. I think the book did a great job starting in the middle of the action. The author offers enough of the background and worldbuilding to understand without overwhelming the reader. I honestly don’t mind putting together more pieces as I read on as long as I have enough to work with at the start.

Another thing I absolutely loved about the book was Renata. I found her character and her backstory to be extremely intriguing and well-written. Renata is a Robarí and can take the memories of others. As a child, she was stolen from her family and forced to work in the palace helping the King hunt down other Moria. When she was rescued by the Whispers, many of the other rebels were distrustful of her. She struggles with the knowledge that people find her dangerous and that she doesn’t quite fit in anywhere.

Renata doesn’t remember much of her time as a child at the palace but it was interesting to see the memories that begin to pop up along the way and their implications. There are a few good twists in this book, but none of them are far-fetched and as a reader there are plenty of hints along the way if you look hard enough. It was fun putting the pieces together for both the twists I had guessed correctly and the ones that had taken me by surprise!

What didn’t I like? While the magic system is clearly given a lot of thought and is incorporated skillfully into the story, I still felt like there was a lot of information missing that needed to be explained. I would love some more background knowledge into how the magic is passed down (is it hereditary? random? both?) and whether the Moria are the only people in the world that possess magic abilities. If they are, why them?

Overall thoughts: Incendiary was exceedingly entertaining and easily draws the reader into the story. The Spanish Inquisition setting and magic system help create an interesting world and Renata shines as the protagonist. I look forward to reading the next book in the series!
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
Shelved as 'tbz'
December 12, 2017
a thief getting revenge on the royal family. 15th Century Spain and the inquisition. guys, holy crap.
Profile Image for Marta the Booktrovert.
417 reviews35 followers
March 1, 2020
This is going to be another of my unpopular opinions (may contain spoilers).

I was really looking forward to reading this book, but I was really underwhelmed.

First 20% of the book, I found myself looking up on Goodreads and online if this was a sequel. I felt I could not really understand the world building and what was going on. Rather, Renata, the protagonist, spoke like she took it for granted that the reader was able to understand certain references. And I was like: "Wait, what?". That's why I felt like I was reading a sequel, or like it was a continuation of something. Did I miss any other series based in the same world?

When I read a story, I love reading the unpredictable. For this one, I kind of figured out half way through where the plot was going... Like you know... the evil person was not so evil and so on... Also, those revelations in the last pages, I saw those coming as well. While I can see how the writer was building up the tension to the big reveal, for me it felt more like dragging it to the end.

Finally... I couldn't connect with Renata. She was too unstable as a character. Sometimes she would be strong, sometimes she would just be too dramatic.

Sorry Incendiary, it's not you, it's me. We are not meant for each other.

I received a free e-copy via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review
Profile Image for Angelica.
805 reviews1,130 followers
Want to read
May 3, 2020
I'm hoping and wishing and praying that this is a five star novel
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 11 books1,229 followers
March 16, 2020
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,032 reviews2,605 followers
June 9, 2020
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2020/06/07/...

There is a dark vibe to this that is hard to describe, but I found it pleasantly surprising and it also made the story that much more poignant and gripping. Incendiary by YA author Zoraida Córdova is the first installment of a planned duology which takes place in Puerto Leones, a fantasy world loosely based on Inquisition-era Spain. King Fernando has declared all Moria, or individuals gifted with magical abilities, as a blight on the land and must be hunted down and killed. Our protagonist Renata “Ren” Convida was just a child when her nation was conquered and she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice, who brought her to be raised at the palace of Andalucia as a political prisoner. As a Robari possessing one of the rarest and most powerful gifts of the Moria, Ren was immediately pressed into the king’s service to use her abilities to steal the memories and secrets of Fernando’s enemies. As a result, she was forced to witness the suffering and deaths of thousands of her own people, helpless to stop any of it.

Eventually though, Ren was taken in by a rebel Moria group called the Whispers after they stormed the palace and rescued her. Still, with few willing to trust someone with so much blood on her hands, Ren remained an outsider, despite aiding the resistance with her powers. Only Dez, her unit commander and the son of the Whispers’ leader was fully accepting of her, and the two became romantically involved. But now, a new threat looms on the horizon in the form of a weapon developed by the king to rid the world of Moria, forcing the rebels to turn to more drastic measures. Unfortunately, when Dez winds up being captured by the notorious Prince Castian, Ren realizes with horror that she may have just put her love’s life in danger by unwittingly disrupting a secret mission being planned by the Whispers. To destroy the king’s weapon and save Dez’s life, she must return to the palace of her nightmarish childhood under the guise of a loyal subject and convince her former captors that she is still on their side.

Incendiary is a book that hits the ground running, and if you’re not paying attention, you might get left behind! From the start, readers are thrown into the action, and there’s a feeling of stepping into a story that is already underway. I appreciate how the author didn’t waste time getting into the meat of the conflict, and any background information can be gleaned from snippets of details dropped along the way. This kept the pace moving smoothly and quickly, though you might run into a bit of confusion at the beginning, at least until all is made clear. Another downside to the way this novel is structured is that Ren and Dez are already a couple when the story opens, and before long he is captured so not much time is given to developing their relationship before they are separated. Considering how Ren’s motivations were predicated on her love for Dez, which was also the driving force behind the whole plot, this aspect probably could have been handled better.

But when the story gets going, it also gets a bit grim, which I enjoyed because you could never be certain where Córdova will take our characters. Speaking of which, Ren is an enigma, with a past that is gradually revealed. Even then, it is a long time before we get a complete picture, since she doesn’t remember all the details herself. Before her rescue by the Whispers, she was a child manipulated into doing terrible things with her powers. As a Robari, she has a special type of magic that allows her to steal memories from anyone with just a touch, and if she takes them all, her victim becomes a Hollow—an empty shell that has lost everything that makes them who they are. That said though, when used carefully, her abilities can also take away bad memories, freeing the person of any pain or trauma. While memory thieves are not exactly a new idea in fantasy, I did enjoy how this duality of Ren’s magic was explored and the way these dynamics gave her character more depth.

As for the plot, the pacing was a bit uneven, especially after Ren makes her return to the palace, which is where the story’s focus shifts to subterfuge and intrigue. World-building was strong, thankfully, which helped move things along. The final quarter of the book also blew up, with all sorts of game-changing revelations and deceptions uncovered that will make you rethink everything you’ve read. This final section was nothing short of brilliant, and more than made up for any fumbles along the way. The stage is now set for the next volume of the duology, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
Profile Image for Renata.
428 reviews279 followers
November 12, 2020
You know the problem when you read a book that you loved is that you have no idea how to put all your thoughts in words and make a proper order and specially a proper review.

To start with the writting style, I think if you start reading this book you’d be consumed by it automatically because it’s so good, I missed enjoying reading absolutely every single detail in a book. I think the book itself has a great storyline with a few plot twists that you won’t expect AT ALL and the characters, seriously what a wonderful creation.

Also, might I add that my name is also Renata as the main character and my friends call me Ren and sometimes Nati so I was so happy? Like you don’t read about Renatas? And!! I felt really connected with the character, like I felt I was described in this book and the thoughts and actions of the main character somehow were so similar to what I’d do.

Special mention to the magic system, I know YA fantasy has some great works but this one was so well developed and the powers Renata has are so amazing, I don’t know I really loved everything about it.

I can’t wait to read what happens next and how everything will end, I just hope Renata will find her peace and get people to trust her and love her because my girl went through so much she doesn’t deserves at all. AND Prince Cas has all my heart hope things will go well otherwise I’ll cry a lot omg.
Profile Image for A Book Shrew.
596 reviews133 followers
February 28, 2023
My first Zoraida Córdova book, one I've been eagerly anticipating, and it did not disappoint for a second. Also, how on earth was this my first Zoraida Córdova book?!

Full review at A Book Shrew. Blog tour and giveaway!

From the first page this was a phenomenal story! The plot is intriguing and cleverly unravelled. The world-building and the set-up of the story in the first 50 pages is just beautifully done. I am so in awe of this book and Córdova skill as a story teller! This is inspired by the Spanish Inquisition, and let me tell you, it delivered. In this, the heretics in need of hunting down are those with magic, them must be tamed with a weapon that Renata is desperate to find. The plot twists in this are unreal and worthy of moments of regularly shouting NO to your house at large. One happens relatively early in the book that had me stunned beyond belief.

I adore Renata. I realize I say that a lot about female protagonists, but when they're brave and fierce, they get my love. Ren has not had the best childhood and she does not know where she fits in. As a young child she was stolen from her parents for her magic to serve under the Arm of Justice, taking memories from people and helping the king in his quest to hunt down the Whispers—the rebels with magic. But poor Ren doesn't remember much of that time, which keeps her at arms length from the rest of the Whispers who rescued her. They do not trust her, and she struggles with being part of a team that really just doesn't like her. Aside from Dez, of course, but I can't even talk about that without spilling some major secrets.

The magics system in this took me a few to get the hang off, but it feels like a very unique one. In this world, there are four types of magics a person can master of. One allows the person to read the truth in a person's thoughts. Another can draw out emotions from others and manipulate them. One can craft illusions to make anyone see what isn't there. And finally, the ability to steal memories. Memory magic we know the most of because this is what Renata has. That she has this magic does not endear her to the Whispers either, because they are dangerous. Ren can take every memory inside a person's head, leaving behind nothing but a Hollow. The shell of a person that will eventually die.

Ren's memory magic is so unbelievably important in drawing out the plot. We learn the back history of characters and past events through the memories she takes. I could not get over how clever this was! It was absolutely fascinating and the consequences it had were absolutely mindblowing for good and bad reasons. My absolute favourite way this was used as a plot device was to learn more about the villain, Prince Castian. I am literally bursting to say more, but I can't without, again, leaking some MAJOR spoilers. But it was so freaking well done and I am in love!

The ending was absolutely explosive in terms of reveals and changes in allegiances. Basically, I cannot wait until the sequel!
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