SYNOPSIS: Sonya Petrova is an Auraseer which means that she is able to tune into the emotions of others and that makes her valuable to the Raizan empire. When the previous soverign Auraseer is put to death for failing to protect the dowager empress and an accident renders most of the Auraseers dead, Sonya is sent to the palace to serve the emperor, Valko, a moody young man with a tenuous grip on his empire. Now Sonya not only has to appease the emperor, she has to keep the empire safe and hopefully quell the fires of rebellion that are stoking throughout the capitol.
Just a forewarning, there is a “love triangle” but I hesitate to call it that because 1) it gets resolved way before the end of the book and 2) it is very clear which relationship is healthy and which one isn’t. The beginning of Burning Glass is intense and full of forward motion and Purdie is able to keep that momentum throughout the rest of the novel! There was never a moment that didn’t have some sort of suspense, sense of urgency, or unimportance although I did feel that the constant propulsion of the action didn’t leave much room for staying in the moment in terms of Sonya’s relationships with Anton (Valko’s brother) and Pia (her maid). I also like that Sonya didn’t have anyone to help her control or learn how to use her powers and she had to figure things out for herself with trial and error. A lot of fantasy novels have a mentor character to help and I liked that Purdie turned away from this tradition because it made all of Sonya’s accomplishments and epiphanies more amazing to behold. Since Sonya didn’t truly understand how her abilities as an Auraseer worked I liked that she had a hard time figuring out if her feelings were her own or if she was just amplifying the emotions of the people around her and it was interesting to see her weed through all of the emotions to get to the root of the problems. I also liked that Sonya had a close female friend because I think a lot of novels where there is a love interest and political intrigue sideline friendships in favor of the advancement of those two elements and Sonya’s relationship with Pia was a nice little break from the drama and I hope in the next book Sonya gets more female friends. Anton and Tosya are two great male friends for Sonya to have because you know they want what’s best for Sonya, but they also give her agency and allow her to make her own decisions and whenever Sonya decides to do something they respect her decision and don’t try to change her mind for her own protection. I liked that all the male characters were allowed to be emotional and Sonya never looked down on them for being “weak” and allowed them to cry, grieve, or whatever emotion needed to be conveyed. I also like that Valko’s actions were never excused. He does some truly disgusting things and has no control whatsoever over his emotions and I liked that his lack of emotional control is never used as an excuse or justification for how he treats other people. It might just be because I’m currently watching Jessica Jones, but his actions reminded me a lot of Kilgrave and I hope this type of antagonist helps others (especially girls) figure out that this type of behavior does not fly and that abuse is abuse even if the guy feels bad. I’m excited to see what comes next because most books don’t start off with a big battle in the first book and then deal with the aftermath in the later books. It’ll be interesting to see the new challenges Sonya will have to face and just how much better the world will be because of her actions in this book. While there are familiar fantasy elements in Burning Glass, I love how Purdie is putting her own spin on it and I hope that the next book does not disappoint!