[A quick note: This was a total cover read for me. I saw that cover and was immediately hooked! Bravo to the author for going with a great cover artist, as that’s going to really hook readers like me. I’ll be starting the second book soon!]
Runa and Lyric are twin sisters who learned to live on their own after their mother’s abandonment. The bond that connects them runs deep. When their long lost mother returns on the same day a strange visitor arrives, they are forced to abandon their home. Thrust into an incredible journey full of magic, secrets, and adventure, Runa and Lyric must learn to master their abilities. But the strings of their bond are tested. And when they discover an ancient threat spreading along the Tainted Shore, they must make the hardest decision of all, to awaken the Old Ones or risk the destruction of their world.
This is a creative story is full of magic and adventure. I enjoyed Holly’s writing style and vivid prose, allowing me to picture each scene clearly as if I was there. Daughters of Fire and Sea presents a unique magic system that left me intrigued. The world building was also impressive; it was incredibly deep. There were some other fun ideas that resonated with me, like the sister bond, the ancestors appearing to help them through their magic, and the war taking place in the background. That being said, the plot felt a bit rocky. The goal for the characters changed, without an overarching goal from the outset. This left me confused as to what the final purpose would be. But once that became obvious, the story ran more smoothly.
Runa and Lyric have a great dynamic. I loved that as sisters, they were both very different characters. They both had obvious character flaws. Runa tends to be more cynical, whereas Lyric wants to help everyone. There even comes a point where their sister bond is heavily tested. This creates a level of tension that helped the book feel realistic.
The girls both possess unique magic. The appearance of their ancestors was very creative. I’ve seen a lot of different was to learn magic, but having your ancestor appear to communicate and teach through a mental bond was something I haven’t seen before. It was really cool! Though, I would have appreciated a little more struggling to master their abilities, because they seemed to catch on pretty quickly. But overall, the execution of how they tapped into their powers made sense. I also like that their powers are different from one another, and complement each other.
There’s a sweet relationship between Lyric and Kell. I liked the two of them together. Kell became an excellent anchor for Lyric. It also felt realistic that Runa suffered from a little jealousy towards them. However, I did feel that their relationship escalated a little too fast. Kell could have shown up a few days earlier to get to know Lyric better, so that their mother’s sudden appearance wouldn’t have been so coincidental. And that would have also allowed some deeper development between the two of them. They started holding hands a day or two after meeting and that just didn’t feel realistic to me for a girl who has lived a sheltered life away from boys.
Finally, as mentioned above, the only thing that took away from the story (for me) was the plot. This was ultimately what dictated my star rating. It felt slow in some areas and rushed in other areas that could hav been slowed down. There were a few events that happened that didn’t really seem necessary for the overall purpose. For example, the first goal of the story was to reunite Runa with her body. This first adventure sets the plot in motion but didn’t feel necessary to the final goal. IMO, it could have been cut out. I understand that it was a way to explain the veil, a really cool land “in between”, but it just didn’t feel necessary for the “final stand” of the plot. Or maybe I missed its need. Hard to say. All I know is it really threw me off, because I thought this was the goal of the story, that I would be reading about an ongoing struggle, and at the end, the girls would succeed in finding Runa’s body and everyone would live happily ever after. Buuuuuut they found Runa’s body at the 20% mark, so I was left scratching my head, wondering what the NEW goal of the story was after that. I didn’t discover the overall purpose of the story—saving the world from the Tainted Shore—until after the 50% mark. This made it harder to anchor myself in the story.
Overall, this was a really cute read. I consider it a “comfort” read vs a “high-stakes” read. It’s the kind of book you can curl up with after a stressful day to simply relax and decompress. If you like high-fantasy, deep world building, intriguing magic, family bonds, and dragons, you’ll like this one. I will be picking up the second book soon.
MY RATING: 3.5/5 ⭐️