Burn Red Skies by Kerstin Espinosa Rosero

Short Note: This is Team LB=TC^2’s fourth finalist review of #SPFBO7 with many more to follow. Please check out Lynn’s Books’ review for Burn Red Skies here.

Rate: 7.5/10

Medium: ebook

Overview (No Spoilers):

“Words cut deeper than blades but the wounds they left behind were silent.”

Dove lost everything she ever loved and finds herself in an inescapably dire situation when an act of mercy gives her the opportunity to forge a new path. Magic is set into clear categories in Burn Red Skies, e.g. Storm, Fire, Water, and despite Dove being Firesworn, she fails to exhibit magical abilities. I found it fascinating that Dove was mute, which adds a layer of complexity to each interaction, though she conveniently manages to convey everything she wants or questions with a mere look regardless of how nuanced her query.

Rosero treats the reader to quite a few perspectives other than Dove’s and continues to add new ones as the story progresses. Burn Red Skies is full of characters whose complex backstories hint at secrets yet sequestered away, leaving the reader yearning to know more. Bard and Dancer are two of my favorite characters who are disconnected from the main story until we eventually find out Bard is in fact linked to nearly the whole cast. This duo’s unique banter was another source of amusement as it broke conventional molds of friendship, even broaching on flirting. Other perspectives that Rosero include range from glimpses of questionably sane King and the powerful dragon-wielding Valerya, to the continuing enigma of Decker. 

One of my favorite parts of Burn Red Skies is the significant effort that Rosero expends on worldbuilding as we see large swaths of her literary realm, from the floating city of Divisorya to the icelands of Glasgerios. Rosero also develops unique powers for each distinct region, such as Storm, Fire, and Ice, though their mysteries and potential are yet to be fully explored. That said I found the Lancistierre and their long life due to Water healing to be especially curious.

Convenience is a tool that Rosero wields liberally as so many of the interactions and accidental meetings just happen to bring the right people together at the perfect time. Sometimes Rosero employs this tactic such that the how or why people ended up where they did seems to be missing a step or two, leading to confusion for the reader. Moreover, once this pattern has proven consistent, it makes the plot twists often predictable as everyone turns out to be connected one way or another.

Overall, Burn Red Skies is a fast paced, often vague adventure that positions and repositions pawns until a world changing secret is unveiled that will ultimately shake the foundations of power. 

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • Why doesn’t Valerya kill King Morian as he is so destructive and corrupt to his own people? How powerful is Morian? How does Valerya’s power with the dragon work?
  • What was in the book that lit up for Dove in the mages’ chamber? Did Valerya find anything important from it other than it was dark magic?
  • What was the Scepter? What did Decker and Wolff give King Avander that they now need to make right?
  • What about the book Gryff had found that was Eithan’s? What value did it have for Gryff? Why was Eithan executed by Valerya?
  • Who is sending the black peregrine? Who is Artis’ daughter?
  • Valerya melting Gryff’s face was especially hard to read. It was so hard to determine if Valerya was ‘good or evil’ when you read of acts such as this.
  • I am so curious about Blackstone! Can anyone get trained there? What is their process like? Why did Decker leave? What about Ro-yun? Can only Divisoryans be mages?
  • What was the coin that Valerya gave Dove? 
  • Having Gryff stab Decker seemed out of character, but perhaps he has grown beyond the timid first boy we met? Will Decker be ok?
  • If Storm was such a rare power wouldn’t people have reacted with more shock after seeing it wielded? Or heard rumors of it if someone who had trained Valerya wielded the rare talent?
  • Bard and Dancer’s chapters were my favorite! I found it fascinating that Bard ended up being connected to the Smuggler and Valerya. What are the odds though that he would have ended up, after seeming to wander aimlessly, in the middle of the rebel encampment. 
  • The twist at the end of Dove being able to call a dragon was fantastic. I didn’t see it coming but I did expect that her powers would manifest in some way.
  • Another example of relying on convenience was Dove and Gryff finding each other randomly during a sprawling battle.
  • Dove and Merc spitting in apology to Wolff was probably my favorite part of the book. So very funny!

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