Together We Burn by Isabel Ibanez #BookReview #YAFantasy #multicultural #comingofage

Isabel Ibañez’s Together We Burn is a lush, enchanting standalone fantasy inspired by medieval Spain, filled with romance, adventure and just the right amount of danger.

An ancient city plagued by dragons

Eighteen-year-old Zarela Zalvidar is a talented flamenco dancer and daughter of the most famous Dragonador in Hispalia. People come for miles to see him fight in their arena, which will one day be hers. But disaster strikes during one celebratory show, and in the carnage, Zarela’s life changes in an instant.

A flamenco dancer who must become a dragon hunter to save her family legacy

With the Dragon Guild trying to wrest control of her inheritance from her, Zarela has no choice but to train to become a Dragonador. But when the most talented dragon hunter left in the land — the infuriatingly handsome Arturo Díaz de Montserrat — withholds his help, Zarela cannot take no for an answer. Without him, her world will burn.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

What’s it about (in a nutshell):

Together We Burn is a fantasy tale about a medieval Spanish-inspired world where dragons are hunted and forced into an arena with a Dragonador who artfully recreates the hunt as only they can do. But, when Zarela’s family of dragonadors comes under fire, they could lose everything – their home, their arena, and hundreds of years of tradition. Zarela stands up and fights back, determined to keep her family’s legacy alive.

Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):

The cover is beautiful, but the only insight I see in it is the Spanish influences. The blurb on the cover, “These flames will ignite her,” is intriguing. Whoever or whatever the she is, it sounds like her passions will be discovered. From the book blurb, I learn that the setting is a fantasy version of Spain where instead of Matadors, there are Dragonadors. I love that there are dragons in this story, but I’m not sure how I feel about them in the context of being hunted and part of a tradition that will end in their death. It also sounds as if the main character Zarela may become the first (?) female dragonador. Also, I have mixed feelings about that but love the whole potential female empowerment angle.

Actual Reading Experience:

I loved that the world is based on medieval Spanish culture. It’s a culture very rich in the arts and very expressive in all that they do. The story reflected all of this more, even interspersing dialogue with whole sentences in Spanish. I loved that as it provided an air of authenticity to the fantasy world.

Dragons and magic are my two favorite components found in fantasy stories, and though they are both vaguely included in this story, I enjoyed what it had of them very much. The magic system is simplistic enchanting magic that magic-wielders sell to everyone who has the money to pay. The more you pay for an enchantment, the better quality of magic. The story does not delve into this system in detail, but I enjoyed what it did have. The story treated dragons very similarly. We see them in generic ways in the arena and learn of their destructive powers. It was not until later in the book that I saw the aspects that I enjoyed.

The world-building in this story did not pull me in and immerse me as I expected, and I’m not sure I had enough sensory knowledge for it to be able to succeed in that regard. But the characters are well-developed, and I loved Zarela’s fiery determination and Arturo’s genuine nature. Zarela tells this story in first-person narration, which gives it that personal touch that makes it relatable. The pace is not too slow but nor is it fast, and it stays at about a medium pace from start to finish.

Characters:

The characters are the most vital component of this story. Their hearts are laid bare, and their pain, hopes, and fears all come through in explosive ways that kept the story interesting to me. Arturo is my favorite character because he is a man after my own heart, and I could completely sympathize with his plight. Whereas I admired Zarela’s fight and drive, I found myself unable to sympathize with her endeavors.

To Read or Not to Read:

If you enjoy exploring the Spanish culture in new and inventive ways, Together We Burn is just the fantasy tale for you.

22 Replies to “Together We Burn by Isabel Ibanez #BookReview #YAFantasy #multicultural #comingofage”

  1. That cover is gorgeous. I’m not sure I like the idea of a dragonador, there’s some traditions that just aren’t right, although part of me says that in all books dragons tend to be hunted. Mixed feelings about whether I’d like this one

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I had mixed feelings on that also, but I loved the way the story turned out. It didn’t take the easy route instead it took a more creative route that made my heart happy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I adore dragons and this book cover.. but I’m not sure how I feel about the dragons being used and abused in such a way.
    Wonderful review, Tessa!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah! The book sounds good, but unless this has a HTTYD thing at the end where they stop the practice, I feel like it would make me a little uncomfortable given that bull fighting still exists!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Wow.. I had completely forgotten about that part of HTTYD.
        And bull fighting has never made sense to me.. There are easier, less traumatizing ways to get an adrenaline rush.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Interesting that it was the culture and not the dragons that came through in the story. (I guess I’m dragon-sensitive since I just wrote an opening chapter to a dragon story.) I think the culture is what would set the story apart from other fantasy tales. And that gives me something to think about…

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The cultural aspects definitely set it apart. They used a lot of elements like bull fighting (dragon fighting in this case) and flamenco dancing and explained the cultural importance within the story. Two big thumbs up for that.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The culture aspects of the book appeal to me but I’m on the fence about the overall plot, especially with the dragons being hunted. The title is outstanding and the cover would definitely make me take a second look. As always, an insightful review, Tessa.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That part was very hard for me, but I loved how the story turned around with such a creative twist. It ended up making my heart very happy. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dragons are always a fascinating addition to a story, and I like that it’s based on medieval Spain, such an interesting time period.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was intrigued by a Spanish fantasy, Tessa, and I’m glad to hear it has strong characters. I’m on the fence about it, since you didn’t LOVE it, but may end up snapping up a copy. Thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved the way the story turned out. It made me happy and was creative. But I did have a hard time with the way dragons were treated at first.

      Liked by 1 person

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