Vivid, imaginative, and emotionally insightful… A page-turner.
Set in a unique fantasy world, Hazel’s engrossing story follows Kai and Rayan, two boys from different backgrounds who become friends under unusual circumstances only to be separated by an unexpected twist of fate. The world is governed by Chi, and those in power manipulate the four elements: Water, Earth, Fire, and Air, to control it. Young Kai is devastated to lose his family to a military attack, but after he arrives in the capital as a prisoner of war, he finds refuge in his friendship with Rayan, the son of a powerful family. But destiny separates the pair. Kai rises to the position of high priest, however his desire to meet and unite with Rayan never goes away. Kai’s suffocating circumstances make him feel just as trapped as Rayan does by parental and societal expectation. They have been going through the motions just for survival, but throughout the story, they find their confidence, inner power, and eventually their purpose. The contrast between Kai’s and Rayan’s personal desires and motivations is an element that is well balanced throughout the book, and it makes the pair both deeply flawed and utterly sympathetic. Feelings of solidarity and kinship offer moments of reprieve from the lingering presence of dark magic. Themes of friendship, loyalty, courage, self-doubt, and human angst, as explored through the pair’s individual struggles, shine. All of this plays out against individual human dramas and intense political plotting, all focused on an exploration of identity and survival. This engaging story about friendship and enmity, betrayal and loyalty, and perseverance and tenacity will keep readers thoroughly hooked.
The Burning Bandit
Lauren Louise Hazel
Pub date October 2, 2023
Price $2.99 (USD) Kindle edition