Storm the Earth by Rebecca Kim Wells
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Let them burn.
Maren’s world was shattered when her girlfriend, Kaia, was abducted by the Aurati. After a daring rescue, they’ve finally been reunited, but Maren’s life is still in pieces: Kaia seems more like a stranger than the lover Maren knew back home; Naava, the mother of all dragons, has retreated into seclusion to recover from her wounds, leaving Maren at a loss on how to set the rest of the dragons free; and worst of all, her friend Sev has been captured by the emperor’s Talons.
As a prisoner of Zefed, Sev finds himself entangled in a treacherous game of court politics. With more people joining the rebellion, whispers of a rogue dragon mistress spreading, and escape seeming less likely with each passing day, Sev knows that it won’t be long before the emperor decides to make an example of him. If he’s to survive, he’ll have to strike first—or hope Maren reaches him in time.
With the final battle for Zefed looming, Maren must set aside her fears, draw upon all she’s learned about her dragon-touched abilities, and face her destiny once and for all. But when the fighting is over and the smoke clears, who will be left standing?
DISCLAIMER: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
EXPECTED OCTOBER 13TH, 2020
When we left off in Shatter the Sky, everything turned on its head.
In the first book, Maren learned that the Aurati that kidnapped her girlfriend relied on the great dragon Naava to supply their prophecies, and that without her, they are little but false prophets. More than that, Maren learned it would be her power, her connections to the dragons that could save Zefed and Ilvera from the cruel machinations of Rafael, the emperor of Zefed and so-called Flame of the West.
Now, in Storm the Earth, Maren has to come to terms with her new responsibilities and the expectations placed upon her, not to mention the changing dynamics between her and Kaia. It’s a rapidly changing world, and though it’s one where she might have power, that doesn’t make it easy.
My absolute favorite feature was the nuance of relationships, especially between Maren, Kaia, and Sev.
Normally, miscommunication frustrates me to no end. I despise when characters can’t seem to tell each other how they’re feeling and why. But that’s because I most often run into miscommunication when there’s little justification for it. Here, though, Rebecca Kim Wells goes to outstanding lengths to craft a realistic, crumbling relationship.
It’s not that Maren and Kaia don’t want to communicate. But after the things Kaia endured at the hands of the Aurati, and Maren discovering her own independence without Kaia around to take the lead, neither girl is exactly who she used to be. They struggle to communicate more often than not because they’ve changed in ways that don’t just go away with a good night’s sleep and a hot meal.
Is it disappointing, to see these girls falling out of love? Of course! I want them to be happy, to find happiness. But that’s a potential reality of first love: you fall out of it.
I also appreciated that Maren is absolutely bisexual. There’s no denying the fact that she loves Kaia, but she loves Sev as well. And while I do wish that we’d seen a more polyamorous route (Maren has two hands! everyone say she has heartmates, plural!), I genuinely loved the nuance and heartbreak that came from Maren and Kaia no longer sharing the bond they used to.
Where Storm the Earth lies at fault is in its plot depth.
Like Shatter the Sky, unfortunately, Storm the Earth has an amazing concept and lovable characters, but not nearly enough depth of plot. This time around, Sev’s POV introduces an element of political intrigue that lies in strong contrast to Maren’s more action-oriented escapades. That alone, I think, needed more time and depth, given that Sev finds himself in the court of the man who murdered his family, among other connections to his past that he’s been on the run from in order to remove Rafael from power. There’s so much rich emotional potential there, so much backstory that could be explored, and so many more complications. To watch things play out almost as expected, with minimal twists and turns, is something of a disappointment.
And Maren’s POV, too, could have used some greater depth. Sure, I loved the exploration of her changing relationship with Kaia. Truly, I think it was outstanding. And I also have a soft spot for her journey from timid and passive to decisive and bold. But at the end of the day, some moments felt a bit too impersonal, or simply too flat. Or maybe the word I want is straightforward. No matter the word I choose, though, my feelings remain the same: I wanted more, and I didn’t want it quite so linear or predictable.
In the end, this is a duology worth the time, if only you love dragons.
Is it silly to say this after complaining about the lack of depth? Hardly! If you’re after a light read in the spirit of HTTYD, complete with a bisexual lead discovering her own confidence and her own heart, this duology is sure to satisfy that itch. It’s not as if Shatter the Sky or Storm the Earth are bad books! I’ve given them 3.5 stars each because they don’t suit me 100%, which is the eternal curse of subjectivity in reviews. Never does go away, does it?
Anyhow, if you think Storm the Earth is for you, then good news! It hits shelves in just two days, on October 13th. That’s just enough time to place a last minute pre-order if you’re so inclined, ensuring that gays and dragons and gays with dragons end up on your TBR! Personally, I can’t pass that up! 🐉
CW: violence, sex scene (fade to black), loss of a loved one, torture, graphic injury, gore (including eye gore), nudity, animal abuse, animal death