Review of So Let Them Burn

So Let Them Burn So Let Them Burn [Divine Traitors]
by Kamilah Cole
High School    Little, Brown    400 pp.
1/24    9780316534635    $19.99
e-book ed.  9780316534840    $12.99

Seventeen-year-old Faron is the Childe Empyrean, blessed five years ago to wield the power of her island’s gods. Now that San Irie’s war against the colonizing Langlish and their dragons is won, Faron uses that ability to show off with classmates. Faron’s sister, Elara, has no such blessings beyond the regular magic of islanders to summon ancestor spirits, but she wants to build a name for herself beyond her family’s status, and to keep Faron, their country, and the island’s young queen safe. When Elara unexpectedly discovers she’s a “dragon Rider,” the sisters and their friends are pulled deeper into machinations between the political powers and the gods. Cole’s writing is vivid and rich; the depth and care placed in the world- and character-building make the novel a delight to read. The story, set years after war, feels rich and lived in. The characters have foibles, backstories, traumas, and nuances that make them as sympathetic as they can be frustrating, and their believable flaws directly fuel the narrative elements that lead toward peril. The romances the characters explore—sapphic and demisexual—hold charm and tension, helping to propel this magic-infused, Jamaican-inspired tale, and a cliffhanger ending with gripping plotlines yet unresolved will leave readers eager for the projected sequel.

Pubissue-From the March/April 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Amanda R. Toledo

Amanda R. Toledo (she/her/ella) is an MLIS student at San Jose State University. Raised on a steady stream of books and croquetas, she has worked in youth services in public libraries for five years and is passionate about diverse representation in books and library collections.

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