I'M IN LOVE. Probably with Arturo. But definitely with this story.
I read Ibanez's debut novel and she has grown so much as an author. Together We Burn is a lush and complex story that weaves the magic of dragon taming with a cast of characters I quickly fell in love with. I really believe a Disney movie could be made out of this book and then all little girls would want to be Zarela when they grow up. Let's get into the review.
Plot: I adore the story and the mystery surrounding everything. I had a hard time with the pacing at the beginning because we spent so much time that first day and then I wasn't sure how much time was passing during training and so forth. The pacing was a problem, but not enough to disturb my enjoyment of the book. I did see that final twist coming about halfway through the story, but it didn't change my enjoyment when it happened. I'm not sure any of the surprises were surprising, but they were utterly delightful. Characters behaved like I wanted them to and it makes me think Isabel Ibanez and I would be BFFs.
World-Building: I liked how both the system of magic and the history of the Dragonadors are presented early and then small, additional information is given throughout the story - that I how I personally like to read about a new world. The scenery descriptions were perfection - I feel like I can see their house, the arena, the city, the ranch, even the dumb cave in my mind. I don't know if this story is original or based in Spanish folklore, but Ibanez's stories are so good at presenting me a story I'm unfamiliar with and making me feel like I've known it forever.
Characters: Let's be honest, this is where this book shines and where I fell in LOVE with the story. Zarela is amazing. She is brave and honest and endearing. Her emotions are real and I love how she knows she is being ridiculous, but goes with it anyway. I loved her from the beginning. She doesn't need a savior, but I adore the saving that Arturo does. He is definitely book-boyfriend material and broods with the best of them. The secondary characters shine with unique personalities and I want my own dynamic Lola in my life. I know I said it already, but the characters do what I would want them to do and it makes for a delightful reading experience.
Transparency Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I'll leave with this final word of advice: never trust a potted plant.
Oh, and preorder this, since it won't be released until the end of May and I need to talk to someone about it!!