Review – Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova

I’ve had my eyes on this book since I added it to my GoodReads shelf in December 2018. It was on my most anticipated reads of both 2019 and 2020 as the original publication date on GoodReads was late 2019 but got postponed as book often do. I was trilled when I saw it on NetGalley and requested it straight away!

This ARC was provided to me by NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton in return for an honest review. Thank you!

Incendiary (Hollow Crown #1)

by Zordaida Cordova

Synopsis by NetGalley / GoodReads

An epic tale of love and revenge set in a world inspired by Inquisition-era Spain pits the magical Moria against a terrifying royal authority bent on their destruction.

‘Epic and spellbinding’ Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles series

Renata was only a child when she was kidnapped by the crown. As a memory thief, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, she was used to carry out the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.

Now Renata is one of the Whispers, a rebel spy working against the crown. When Dez, her commander – and the boy she’s grown to love – is taken captive by the notorious Principe Dorado, Renata must return to the palace and complete his top-secret mission herself. Can she keep her cover, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.

But returning to the palace stirs memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the royal court, she uncovers a secret that could change the fate of the entire kingdom – and end the war that has cost her everything.

‘A compelling world filled with beautiful, brutal magic and characters that feel real enough to touch’ Sara Holland, New York Times-bestselling author of Everless

My Opinion


  • Easy to read
  • Magic is enticing


From the prologue, I was intrigued by the magic. There was just something about it I felt was fresh and exciting so I kept reading.

Its was a refreshing read with magic that focuses on human abilities and perception, not elements which I loved.

The characters were interesting and I didn’t hate a single one which I find surprising. Now I didn’t love everyone either, but there was always something likeable about ta character.

The Story

The story follows Ren, she is a Robari – someone who take other peoples memories. Robaries are the most feared amongst the magical. No -one wants their memories taken from them, and no one wants to become a hollow (someone without memories).

The Moira which is Rens people are fighting a rebel fight against a bigger suppressor and are struggling to keep safe and alive. Moira’s are mostly magical with the suppressors is not and view the magic as a curse or a sickness.

There were several twists and turns in this book – of them, several I didn’t see coming. I was surprised by things which made the book feel fresher. But by the end, I got some “Red Queen vibe from the story and its only got to do with one element, but I liked it.

Most of the story unfolds around Ren receiving or taking memories from others and her joining the dots, but I felt I joined some dots way before her and I wasn’t surprised by some big revels. However, some smaller reveals I didn’t see coming and they surprised me πŸ™‚

World Building

The world slowly unfolds for you. The magic isn’t dumped on you but explained and given in pieces.

I had a Mexico feel to this world but apparently, it was more of a Spanish Inquisition situation. I don’t care, I’ll go for Mexico πŸ™‚

Magic/Science System

The magic is fascinating. there are 4 types of magical: Illusionari, Robari, Ventari and Persuari. Illusionari has the power to create illusions. Robari takes people memories. Ventari can read people minds and tell if someone is telling the truth. Persuari deals with emotions and makes people feel.

I liked how all the magic is related to what humans perceive and not about elements or creating something. It was refreshing.

There is also the element of certain base metals bringing enhanced powers to people. Gold powers the Illusionaries etc. I like that element too.


This book is narrated by one person: Ren. But she is surrounded by a team and some villains.

Ren (Robari) – Ren was taken from her home as a child to live in the King’s castle has is personal Robari. She spent her youth taking enemies memories and snuggling up in the library. She then got rescued and spent time learning to fight with the Whispers (Moira rebels). She is traumatised and has more memories from other people in her head than her own. I felt for her and really liked her as a character. She isn’t the best at everything, she isn’t the quietest or the stealthiest. She isn’t the slowest either. She doesn’t feel like she is always doing the right thing and she doesn’t always know what is the right thing. But I like her πŸ™‚ a lot!

Dez (Persuari) – Dez is the leader of the Whisperers, the rebellion and Rens team the Lynx. He is strong and knows what to do. He also has a romantic interest in Ren. He is a bit reckless and impulsive. I like him but I didn’t see enough if him to get a good feel for him.

Sayida (Persuari) – a Lynx member and the kindest in the team. She is the main medical person and she cares for everyone. She is the sweetest and I really liked her. I felt bad for her in the end tho.

Margo (Illusionari) – a Lynx member, a badass feisty fighter with a negative inclination towards Ren. She doesn’t trust Robaries and she definitely doesn’t trust Ren after so many years working for the King. She talks down on Ren and always argues against her. I didn’t hate MArgo cause there is something about her that makes her likeable no matter how negative she is against Ren. But I didn’t love her either.

Esteban (Ventari) – a Lynx member and he tends to tail after Margo a bit. He also has a negative inclination towards Ren but it shifts throughout the book. He is a bit bland to me, but I did like him by the end.

Castian (The Bloody Prince) – the enemy in this story. Castian is pictured as the bloody prince, more ruthless than his father, the conqueror.

As a side note, I wanted to say how much I liked the absent or low level or romance in this book. There was a few thing sin the beginning and to be it all felt healthy and representative. But she doesn’t yearn for anyone or her passion or longing for someone doesn’t overcome her and decides where she goes or what she does. Her guilt and morals decide where she goes and what is right. I enjoyed the lack or romance in here. It was a breath of fresh air, but that could be me the a-sexual talking.


Yes, some on the side. Not a bad thing and not frowned upon.


The writing was really good. The author is experienced and is award-winning so I didn’t expect anything less.

I had an ARC version and there were a few incomplete sentences which I hope is completed in the final version. By incomplete, I mean sentences like this: “That boy would let you him anything, and you know it”. It stops you in your tracks and makes you think, so it interferes with the flow of your reading.

I assume these will be gone in the final version.


Loved this book! and I’ll definitely check out the next one in the series and even more by the same author.

I did get minor Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard vibes but this was a very original and fresh story. There was only a minor part that gave me those vibes, but I feel it’s relevant. I loved Red Queen but felt the last book was annoying and almost a waste of time. Incendiary gave me more Red Queen than the last book vibe. So only the good stuff πŸ˜€

I loved it πŸ™‚

Recommended for all YA fantasy readers!

Have you read this? What did you think?

6 thoughts on “Review – Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova

  1. Glad you enjoyed this one so much! I also love what you said about the main character having a good grip on herself and her decision making. I feel like that’s important and sometimes is a miss in YA books.

    Liked by 1 person

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