Book Review: Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie

Review News


If you’ve noticed, I’m putting out one book review a day until I get caught up with them.  Recent (maybe not the most recent) books are reviewed first.  Then I’ll get to the older books I’ve already read.

Burning Glass


Barnes and Noble


Burning_Glass_coverAmazon described this book a cross between Red Queen and Shadow and Bone.  I’ve read both and I would have to disagree with at least one.

Red Queen is a post apocalyptic novel that has no relevant relation to Burning Glass.  I have no clue why they made the reference, unless they were comparing the complicated love triangle between a girl and two brothers.  If that’s the case, I’ve already covered the fallacy of comparing one small aspect of a novel with another in my Red Queen review.

Shadow and Bone is a better comparison because Shadow and Bone and Burning Glass are steeped in worlds based off Russian culture.  Also, both heroines struggle to control extraordinary powers while battling handsome, crazy evil dudes who think they’re doing good when they’re actually greedy.

The truth is, this book doesn’t have a second adequate comparison.  At least, none that I’ve read so far.

Sonya, our lovely heroine, has spent most of her young life ducking the Riaznin government.  She has an empathic gift, which means she can sense other people’s emotions.  The government uses such people to sense threats to the Emperor.  This position is called Sovereign Auraseer.

This novel starts after Sonya is captured and sent to a special convent that trains seers to control their gifts so they can be used for the good of the country.  A few months into her stay, tragic circumstances made Sonya the new Sovereign Auraseer.

Politics and court intrigue begin when Prince Anton does a little coup planning during their journey.  He doesn’t want Sonya to know, but he’s not exactly smooth with the subterfuge.

Anton and Emperor Valko were separated and raised apart as young children.  Each were taught to be emperor of the land, Valko became emperor because he was the oldest.  This is the basis for the strained relationship between the brothers.

Sonya’s situation brings her into the brother’s strained relationship.  Valko sees her as an understanding confidant among people who couldn’t possibly understand his situation.  While he doesn’t perceive Sonya as an equal nor does he entertain the possibility of raising her station through marriage (that’s just preposterous to marry a commoner with no dowery), he mistakes maniacal dependance for love.

Meanwhile, Anton, the brother Sonya is actually in love with (or so she guesses), exhibits contradicting emotions whenever Sonya is around.  One minute he’s hot, the next he’s cold, and most of the time he avoids her so she can’t read him at all.

As Sonya attempts to control her powers, she must make a moral decision between duty and revolution.  The first will lead to madness and possible destruction of the country.  The other will lead to love and chaos.

First, I have a small technical issue with the book before going into my critique of the characters.

The author’s mistaken use of the word aura to describe Sonya’s abilities.  Purdie confuses the term’s public use as an instinct most humans possess.  For example, When Jane stepped closer to Sam, she could feel is tense aura.

To describe a highly developed sixth sense few people possess, she should have used the word empath.  Aura, in terms of a developed sixth sense, has everything to do with sight.  Someone who has this sixth sense views the energy surrounding each person in terms of colors.  These colors depict what a person is feeling or the state of a person’s health.  Hence, Purdie’s term Auraseer.

The term Purdie should have used for the Auraseers is Empathics.  An empath – person who can feel another person’s emotions in depth – is a more apt description of Sonya’s powers.

I know, it’s a little nitpickie and a debatable topic, but I had to get that out or obsess about it later.

Now to the characters!

I liked Sonya as a heroine.  She was thrown a quagmire of difficult situations and managed to come out stronger for the experience.  Anyone who can handle those two brothers without committing suicide and keeping her sanity is virtually superhuman.  Someone weaker would have given into the Emperor and ended up lost within his emotions.

Valko was a complicated character.  Like Sonya, a reader doesn’t know what to make of him when he’s introduced.  Yet, he allowed greed to make him mentally unstable and blamed everyone else for his actions instead of owning his insane greed.  As an older brother with the weight of a country on his shoulders, I found him very childish, weak, and manipulative.  Furthermore, his irresistible vortex of emotions had a hint of sleaze throughout the book.

Anton was only slightly better than his brother.  He obviously would make a better emperor because he cares for his people.  Unfortunately, the man is confused when it comes to trust.  In my opinion, he trusts normal people easily.  When it comes to a Sonya, he has trust issues.  The author explained this little issue between Anton and Sonya by blaming his upbringing and basically saying he had trust issues with everyone.  That was an extremely faulty explanation.  While his brother didn’t own his greed, Anton didn’t own the fact that he thought Sonya was mirroring his own emotions.  That her love for him wasn’t actually hers.

Honestly, there were parts of the book where I wanted to kick one or both of the brothers in the nuts.  That’s how frustrating they were.

Despite my frustration, technical pet peeves, and wondering why Sonya doesn’t walk away from both brothers, I liked the book.   It started slow.  The story picked up in Chapter Five and I couldn’t put it down after that.  (Usually, I only give a book three chapters, but these chapters were relatively short, which is why I stuck with it longer).  It has earned it’s rightful place on my bookshelf.

I don’t think this book is the start of a series.  Although, I said the same thing about A Court of Thorns and Roses and it’s sequel, A Court of Mist and Fury is due out May 3rd.

Future Book Reviews

***Will not be reviewed in this order.Books-2-icon

  • Insanity (Mad in Wonderland) by Cameron Jace
  • The Glittering Court by Rachelle Mead (April 5th)
  • A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses Book #2) by Sarah J. Maas (May 3rd)
  • Ruined by Amy Tintera (May 3rd)
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts I & II by J. K. Rowling (July 31st)
  • The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles Book #3) by Mary E. Pearson (August 2nd)
  • Witch’s Pyre (The Worldwalker Trilogy Book #3) by Josephine Angelini
  • Elemental Trilogy by Sherry Thomas
    • The Burning Sky
    • The Perilous Sea
    • The Immortal Heights
  • Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
  • Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
  • The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine
  • The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
    • Ruin and Rising

Want to see what I’m currently reading or curious about past book reviews?  

Go to my Reading Common Sense page.


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