ARC Review: INCENDIARY by Zoraida Córdova

I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in white bracketed by swirls against a background of flames

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 2.5 stars
Series: yes - first book


Book cover for INCENDIARY: title surrounded by swirls on redRenata 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.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


I wanted to like this book – revolution in a world inspired by the Spanish Inquisition, and magic able to drain memories – but I just couldn’t.

I was never drawn into the world or story, never understood Renata so I never wanted her to succeed. She was just… there, doing things. I had no connection to her and never found her particularly likeable. She was both too rude and too trusting at the same time.

It felt like a book where either nothing was happening, or so much was happening that I couldn’t follow it. There were sections where I couldn’t find the through line, couldn’t work out what linked the series of scenes and information she stumbled upon. It was like a random jumble of events that she hadn’t instigated, but she just happened to find all the information she needed.

She was so careless with her magic, using it constantly (and often by accident, despite all the precautions), and yet she wasn’t found out. Or, when she was, she was able to somehow get that person (who hated her) not to tell on her. It was stretching belief a little.

There are also some “twists” and “reveals” that are blindingly obvious and I kept wondering how they couldn’t piece all the clues together until the end. And, of course, when she’s finally told and realises it, she has a change of heart about several characters.

All in all, it was a disappointing read.

2 thoughts on “ARC Review: INCENDIARY by Zoraida Córdova

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