by Cora Carmack
Princess or adventurer.
Duty or freedom.
Her Kingdom or the storm hunter she loves.
If Aurora knows anything, it's that choices have consequences. To set things right, she joins a growing revolution on the streets of Pavan.
In disguise as the rebel Roar, she puts her knowledge of the palace to use to aid the rebellion. But the Rage season is at its peak and not a day passes without the skies raining down destruction. Yet these storms are different…they churn with darkness, and attack with a will that’s desperate and violent.
This feels like more than rage.
It feels like war.
If Roar was a breaking down of Aurora’s character to her most basic parts, Rage is an explosive renaissance in which Aurora accepts herself wholly, including the parts that terrify her, and faces every challenge that is thrown her way. She was a puppet princess before, but now wears an invisible crown and walks her old streets with authority that is earned, not given.
She is not the only character to undergo such a powerful transformation. Within the pages of Rage, we get to see every POV character—Locke, Cassius, Nova—undergo some kind of personal growth as they learn to allow vulnerability, walk in humility, and trust themselves and those around them. Not a single character arc is wasted in this book, and to flip through its pages is to fall in love with all of them in new and beautiful ways.
Love stands out as a theme of this book. Whether it is the love a daughter feels for her mother, the love of a ruler for their city, an individual’s love of power and control, love between friends, romantic love facing new challenges, or the love found in dark places between two comrades that evolves into more, it drives the plot of the book forward and heightens the stakes behind every daring twist.
Cora is a master of tension and pacing, and it shows here better than ever before. As Aurora and the other characters face immediate challenges (how to get into the city, what to do once inside, how to confront minor antagonists), she peppers the rotating POVs with small scenes from the past and whispers in the streets until we, the reader, feel it creeping up the back of our neck: the Stormlord is coming.
It is not an easy task to create a “Big Bad,” most especially when his or her talents extend beyond the human realm and come with powerful magic attached. Some manage to find a decent balance between the overarching, seemingly impossible antagonist and the day-to-day challenges (take J.K. Rowling or the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender for example). Others, sadly, fall short. But in a similar fashion to the threat posed by the Night King in Game of Thrones, Cora’s characters must quickly decide whether it is better to maintain their political foibles and social squabbles, or to band together against the common and powerful enemy on his way.
At the same time as Cora masters her fictional world, her real world wisdom falls seamlessly into the narrative so that we are blessed with poignant lines like this that make us stop and contemplate, as all good art should. “Aurora still had a great deal to learn, but of one thing she was certain: the value of a person remained unmeasured until they did something worth measuring.”
Aurora inspires me to do something. To be something. To challenge myself and the world around me, and to let go of fear which can grow so easily into something toxic. I cannot encourage you enough to read her journey for yourself and see what you might learn.
5 out of 5 Magpies