It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…
Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.
Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.
The Burning Sky is pure joy in a fantasy novel. It's sort of Tamora Pierce-meets-Harry Potter-meets-Leigh Bardugo-meets-fairy tales, and it's just fun from start to finish. There's a chosen one in hiding! A girl pretending to be a boy! Boarding school adventures! Dark prophecies! A sexy prince! Evil magic! Victorian England! Virtual reality! Magic portals! People disguised as canaries! It blends together a lot of familiar YA fantasy fare, but the result is pretty much all you would hope that blending to be. So if you like your princes attractive, your magic fiery and your girls hidden away at Eton, and if you like to blend the lighthearted with some much darker themes, The Burning Sky is definitely one to read.
The main relationship in the novel is between Iolanthe and her protector/magical tutor/sometimes antagonist Prince Titus, who decides that Iolanthe is the savior he's been waiting for and simultaneously saves her life and traps her in an unbreakable promise to then risk her life to save the kingdom and fulfil a prophecy that he's decided simply has to come true. Considering that Iolanthe has had little magical training, and has been deceived about her powers for her entire life, she hardly feels capable of taking down the terrifying and all powerful magical Bane, and her initial "thank you for helping me hide from the people trying to kill me" turns into something a lot less friendly. But, of course, they both have reasons for acting as stubbornly and manipulatively as they do, and, to nobody's surprise, "I hate you" turns into "I should hate you but I actually love you" soon enough. But despite (or perhaps even partly because of) its somewhat predictable nature, the romance is a great one, and the characters are supported by a great range of background characters, both good, bad and everything in between.
The Burning Sky isn't a novel for those who like their fantasy to come with appendices and deep explorations of good and evil. But if you're looking for some fantasy that's pure fun, definitely give this one a shot!