Book review · Fantasy · Young adult

Review: Wicked Like a Wildfire, by Lana Popović

WickedLikeaWildfireWicked Like a Wildfire is a fantasy book set in modern Cattaro (Montenegro). It follows two sisters with an unusual magical ability called “gleam”—a gift that allows them to manipulate beauty. Iris can see flowers as fractals, while Malina can sing her emotions. When their mother Jasmina is murdered by someone who has magical abilities similar to their own, Iris and Malina discover that they have been told lies since they were born.

Wicked Like a Wildfire is the first book in a duology. The sequel, Fierce Like a Firestorm, will come out in 2018.

We follow the PoV of only one sister, Iris, and she was the one I liked the least. For the first 200 pages she was both envious and condescending towards Malina. When Malina tells her not to hang out with a beautiful boy who looks like bad news, Iris shouts at her, and tells her that she [Malina] doesn’t believe Iris could be loved by someone. Then she fights with Malina when she discovers that her sister had confided some secrets to the girl she’s obviously crushing on (but Iris doesn’t notice that because she’s so straight and self-centered it’s painful to read).
The fact she had done the same while getting drunk with a stranger (the aforementioned boy) is apparently irrelevant.
I started to like Iris in the second half of the book, but I prefer Malina. Maybe the next book will be in her PoV?

I liked the side characters, especially Niko (Romany wlw!), but I think that both her and Luka were underdeveloped.
This book also had one of my least favorite tropes in it: the curse that forbids the MCs to fall in love. I hate it because it’s cheap, predictable and because it frames the lack of romantic love as something unnatural (aromantic people exist!). There are better ways to introduce tension in your straight romantic subplots.

What I loved were the descriptions (so many of them, detailed), the writing (stunning) and the atmosphere (“small town on the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea” is one of my favorite settings).

The plot surprised me. There were a lot of twists I didn’t see coming, and I liked how the author incorporated Eastern European mythology in them. She also wove in some details from Japanese culture (because the MCs are half Japanese) and I loved the descriptions of the Wisteria Tree.

There were flowers! Fractals! Glasswork! So many flowers. I didn’t know that Jade Vine existed, but it’s so pretty…
Really, this book is as beautiful as its cover.

I will read the sequel, but I have to say that the ending frustrated me a bit – I felt like this book could have easily been a standalone.

My rating: ★★★½

Have you read Wicked Like a Wildfire? If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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