Sonya was born with the rare gift to feel what those around her feel—both physically and emotionally—a gift she’s kept hidden from the empire for seventeen long years. After a reckless mistake wipes out all the other girls with similar abilities, Sonya is hauled off to the palace and forced to serve the emperor as his sovereign Auraseer.
Tasked with sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is under constant pressure to protect the emperor. One mistake, one small failure, will cost her own life and the lives of the few people left in the world who still trust her.
But Sonya’s power is untamed and reckless, her feelings easily usurped, and she sometimes can’t decipher when other people’s impulses end and her own begin. In a palace full of warring emotions and looming darkness, Sonya fears that the biggest danger to the empire may be herself.
As she struggles to wrangle her abilities, Sonya seeks refuge in her tenuous alliances with the volatile Emperor Valko and his idealistic younger brother, Anton, the crown prince. But when threats of revolution pit the two brothers against each other, Sonya must choose which brother to trust—and which to betray.
BURNING GLASS is debut author Kathryn Purdie’s stunning tale of dangerous magic, heart-rending romance, and the hard-won courage it takes to let go.
Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review.
Before I had read this book, I had heard many different opinions on BURNING GLASS and several mixed reviews. Hence, I was quite apprehensive to dive into this one, but when I read the synopsis, my interest piqued. BURNING GLASS follows the story of Sonya, an Auraseer, who is able to sense and be influenced by other people’s emotions and motives. In a twisted turn of events, Sonya is forced to be the tyrannical emperor’s sovereign Auraseer, and she has to figure out what is going on within the empire.
The plot of this novel was hard to grasp. Throughout the novel, I wasn’t sure what was going on and what the plot actually was, besides Sonya falling madly in love with Anton, the crown prince and trying to figure out her emotions for Valko. BURNING GLASS also sort of reminded me of SHATTER ME (which I loved), so I was quite intrigued by the way events unfolded quite easily.
As for the characters, they were generally well-written, although I had some issues with a couple of them. Sonya, the main character, starts off the story by indirectly and accidentally killing the many Auraseers (I’m still sort of confused by what exactly happened), which leads her to be taken as the sovereign Auraseer for Valko. Sonya, I felt, had no experience at all, neither the understanding of the class system and propriety in the empire nor the ability to control her emotions and discern her aura from others. I definitely think that she does learn to develop her skill throughout the novel, but I felt as if it could have been done a little better. My favorite character was probably Anton, who, as the tragic prince, is the leader of the revolution to dissolve the monarchy. He is reserved and although he does have a huge feud with his brother, he really does care about him (who knows why).
And, the character I probably had the most problems with: Valko. Valko has a tragic background, yes, but that doesn’t excuse him from being abusive and manipulative and essentially coerce Sonya into a toxic relationship. He hits Sonya multiple times and states that she belongs to him; needless to say, I was incredibly irritated and hated him throughout the course of the whole novel.
On the other hand, the romance was angsty—it was emotional and complicated, and I’m still sort of conflicted about how I feel about it. Many reviewers thought that this was a love triangle, but it’s not. By the end, it’s absolutely clear as to who Sonya truly loves and who put her in a toxic relationship. Compared to the relationship between Sonya and Valko, Sonya’s relationship with Anton was slow-burning and amazing, and I loved the little, sweet scenes between the two.
Overall, BURNING GLASS had a few issues, but as a whole, it’s a promising start to a new trilogy. I know many people didn’t enjoy this, and I agree, to an extent. But check it out if you enjoy angsty romances, political intrigue, and magic. (And be prepared to hate Valko as much as I do.)