Review: Burn the Sky by Jaye McKenna

Burn the SkyRating: 3.75 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

Garrik is the presumptive heir of Altan. He has the bearing to lead, but his Wytch powers have not yet manifested and without them he cannot claim the throne. That means the burden of rule will fall to his younger brother, Jaine, whose kind and gentle nature is not suited to the hardships of the throne. To protect his brother and to serve his kingdom, Garrik agrees to force his powers to awaken, which unleashes a beast that was never meant to be free.

challenge month 2017 copyIlya serves as teacher to those students whose Wytch powers may become dangerous. He is well suited to the task since during his first transformation, he managed to slaughter an entire village. He’s been atoning for that moment for decades and has isolated himself from the world as a result. Save his interactions with students, he keeps himself hidden away, where his dragon can be controlled and safely managed. When Ilya is sent to teach Garrik about the violent dragon that now resides inside him, he has little hope he can save the boy. And if he cannot save him, he will have to destroy him, something llya dreads. But when his kingdom needs him most, Garrik will discover a strength he never realized existed and Ilya will find a reason to live again.

Burn the Sky is not a perfect book, but it is fun and engaging and a perfect fit for our New To Me Author Week as part of our Reading Challenge Month here at Joyfully Jay. From page one, Burn the Sky draws you in and never really shakes you loose. The first part of the book is stronger than the second and does an excellent job of setting up the world in which Garrik and llya live and the conflicts between the individual kingdoms and the all powerful and increasingly sinister Council. Garrik is portrayed as a young man who loves his kingdom and his younger brother, but finds himself trapped by archaic rules and a domineering father. During the second half of the book, Garrik comes off as a bit entitled and arrogant, which doesn’t really fit his character as a whole. I was never quite sure if he was acting this way as a result of his contentious relationship with Ilya or something else, but it didn’t work. He’s too kind and devoted to seem truly arrogant. Ilya is an uneven character and his cool, reclusive nature suits him. When the author tries to portray him as more emotional, it doesn’t ring true and only makes his character seem awkward. That said, together Ilya and Garrik are a magnificent fit. They are the equal in power and work as an elegant team. Though their romance is somewhat hurried, we are given the impression they are truly devoted to one another and suited to whether the hardships ahead.

Garrik’s mastery of his power is described as nearly impossible. Ilya is the only one in living memory to have managed it. Given this, I expected his training to be rigorous and challenging. And it was, but for too short a period. It seemed as though he went from being completely untrained to in control overnight and it didn’t feel very realistic. Additionally, the resolution to the book felt out of step with the rest of it. It read as hurried and awkwardly rendered. There is so much character building here, it’s almost as though the author forgot there was an actual plot to finish.

I thoroughly enjoyed Burn the Sky, which is the first in a series. It has some issues to be sure and doesn’t always read as smoothly or completely as it should, but the characters are engaging and the story engrossing. If you enjoy fantasy and can look past a few stumbling blocks, Burn the Sky is worth your time.

This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for New to Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win a fabulous prize from Riptide Publishing. One winner will win a set of Advanced Review Copies before the books are released (or if it is a non-U.S. winner, an electronic copy of the books upon release). Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a loaded Kindle fire filled with DSP books!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on New to Me Author Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more details about the awesome prizes!

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  1. I am willing to give new authors a try for the right price. If it’s too expensive, I usually wait to check out a new author. I enjoy fantasy and I’ll put this on my wait-and-see list. That it is the first book in a series may just sway me to get it.

  2. I don’t think i have read a lot of fantasy but i love to discover new to me genres. That is why i like to read reviews of books that i know i won’t pick up that easy without a good or strong recommendation from a friend or blog. So thank you for your review.

  3. Thanks so much for the review — not sure I’ll be trying this one though since fantasy is not exactly my favorite genre. I prefer urban fantasy, something closer to contemporary setting 🙂

  4. Thanks for the review, Sue. I like some fantasy and the premise sounds quite appealing, so I’ll be downloading a sample to see what I think.

  5. I love good world building and many first books in a fantasy/sci-fi series can suffer in other areas while that is happening. I guess the question is, now that you know what the world is like, will you read the next one in the series?

  6. The world-building does sound cool, but I wonder if it complicated the characterization too much…

  7. Bronwyn Heeley says:

    Oh, I like dragons and the idea he became,one because he pushed his magic is intriguing, tho I don’t tend to read fantasy I am willing to give it a try. 

  8. I’ve been reading more paranormals of various flavors lately so this sounds intriguing. Based on the review though I think I’ll wait until another book or two are released to see how the series is shaping up. Now back to Harper Fox, who I learned about through the TBR challenge last week and is my new-to-me author of this week!

  9. Thanks for the review. While I haven’t read this particular title, I have read & enjoyed others by this author.

  10. I haven’t read this author before either. It’s too bad the promise of the worldbuilding and premise couldn’t be fully realized, but I do like the idea of this one. I may pick this one up when I’m in the mood. Thanks for sharing it with us, Sue.

  11. I have been a big fan of fantasy in the past, in fact, fantasy is what led me to m/m. Usually fantasy books are extremely long. A trilogy with 800-900 pages in each book would not be unusual. This author sounds like she tried to cram too much into such a relatively short book. Too bad, but it still sounds like a book I would enjoy. 🙂

  12. Thank you for the review. I own it but just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. It sounds like an intriguing story and some of the characters seem likable.

  13. I don’t read fantasy very often, based on your review I will add this book to my TBR list. Thank you for your review.

  14. I must recognise this book was already in my TBR list, as a lover of fantasy I tend to check every new book I learn about… Burn The Sky sounds really good to me. Thank you for the review, Sue

  15. I’m usually game for a new author and/or less-than-perfect execution when it comes to fantasy, since it’s such a broad and creative genre. Might give this one a shot.

  16. Hmm I might give this one a shot. The characters sound really interesting. Also dragons!

  17. Purple Reader says:

    Thanks for the review. You do make it sound like a fun read. I like all kinds of gay fantasy, sometimes with heavy or dark meaning or intrigue, and sometimes lighter, with not as much conflict, as an enjoyable escape. I like guys with powers, dragons, princes, and of course the romance.

  18. I have this series in my TBR list because a friend recommended it saying it was high in fantasy and word building but like you mention, the romance is a bit lacking and not there all the time. Thanks for the review!

  19. I’m not a fan of fantasy books. But I read them sometimes, if they are written by an author I truly love. Thanks for your review!

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