In Riaznin, it’s considered an honor for Auraseers like Sonya to serve as the emperor’s personal protector—constantly using her gift to scan for feelings of malice and bloodlust in the court. But Sonya would rather be free. After the queen’s murder and a tragic accident, Sonya is hauled off to the palace to guard a charming yet volatile new ruler. But Sonya’s power is reckless and unwieldy. She’s often carried away by the intense passion of others. And when a growing rebellion forces Sonya to side with either the emperor who trusts her or his mysterious brother, the crown prince, Sonya realizes she may be the key to saving the empire—or its greatest threat.
Burning Glass’s story revolves around Sonya, an empath who feels the emotion of every person around her. Unfortunately for her, she is taken to the Emperor to guard him, in her untrained state. She is vulnerable to any strong emotion, meaning she gets overwhelmed very easily by people who have strong auras, making her like a mirror to their emotions. The emperor is a charming but sadistic fellow, and she falls for his seduction. It’s all very Stockholm-y at this point, but there is a love triangle – the Crown Prince, the emperor’s younger brother. And while she is sorting her feelings, rebellion in brewing in the country. She is thus, in a dangerous position, being close to the Emperor, but also feeling the pain resentment of the population.
Firstly, I would like to mention that understanding Sonya was difficult – which emotions were hers, and which were projected onto her confuses her, as well as the reader. If she was smarter or, I don’t know, trained in spycraft (since that is basically her job description), it would have made for a better story. As an Auraseer, she was pretty much not doing what she should be doing. Instead, we get pages of her trying to decide between which brother she likes more. *eye roll* I get that being an empath, she literally empathizes with the emperor, but it was slightly disturbing when she willingly submits to him, while acknowledging she is nothing more than his slave. As for Anton, I got his reluctance – he did not want to force his feelings on her, but his naive pacifist attitude was straining credulity. The ending, however, rescued the plot big time – it was well-written, had a bang, and gave a good conclusion to the story. Overall, writing was good, but the story lacked that spark – that way to engage you, make you care for the characters. I am, still, however, hopeful the sequel will turn out to be better.
Received a free galley from Katherine Tegen Books, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.