Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 4 stars Series: Standalone
An ancient city plagued by dragons. A flamenco dancer determined to save her ancestral home. A dragon hunter refusing to teach her his ways. They don’t want each other, but they need each other, and without him her world will burn.
Eighteen-year-old Zarela Zalvidar is a talented flamenco dancer and daughter of the most famous Dragonador in Hispalia. People come for miles to see him fight in their arena, which will one day be hers.
But disaster strikes during their five hundredth anniversary show, and in the carnage, Zarela’s father is horribly injured. Facing punishment from the Dragon Guild, Zarela must keep the arena—her ancestral home and inheritance —safe from their greedy hands. She has no choice but to take her father’s place as the next Dragonador. When the infuriatingly handsome dragon hunter, Arturo Díaz de Montserrat, withholds his help, she refuses to take no for an answer.
But even if he agrees, there’s someone out to ruin the Zalvidar family, and Zarela will have to do whatever it takes in order to prevent the Dragon Guild from taking away her birthright.
Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
TOGETHER WE BURN was a really fun read, taking bull fighting and swapping out the bulls for dragons. There’s also flamenco dancing, blending various entertainment industries and exploring the way the crowd interacts with them (as well as the ethics of dragon-fighting.) I liked the balance a lot because it let the book be a “dragon book” without them taking over.
It’s such a great premise, making the dragons both common place and dangerous at once, weaving them into the society until they don’t feel out of place at all. The banality of them (in some respects) hides their danger until it’s too late and they unleash devastation. That felt like it made them seem more dangerous because of the contrast to them being part of the entertainment industry.
This is a great example of how something can be a “low stakes book” but still tension filled and full of drama. The world is not in danger here, there are no repercussions to anyone other than Zarela and her immediate circle if she fails. However it’s the end of her world, which ensures the stakes feel very high because we are shown how much it matters to her, and we come to care about her and her close circle.
There is also a mystery woven into this book. Who is behind the attack on Zarela’s home and why? I’ve been watching a lot of murder mystery films with my parents this holiday, so it was nice to continue that theme here, even if it was a subplot.
In all, this was a super fun standalone, full of dragons and intimate stakes. It’s making me more excited for her next book (a true duology where the story is set across two books, rather than being a companion pair, set in Egypt during the 19th century excavations.)
Read my reviews of other books by Isabel Ibañez:
Woven in Moonlight:
- WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT (#1)
- WRITTEN IN STARLIGHT (#2)