An interview with the author of this new YA fantasy... Cast in Firelight by Dana Swift (Interview, Review & #Giveaway) #castinfirelight #YALit #yafantasy #Roaring20sDebut #wickeryseries @TBRBeyondTours @DelacortePress

Welcome! I'm excited to get to a share an interview with the author of this new YA
release as well as my review today! Check those out and enter the giveaway below...

Cast in Firelight
(Wickery #1)
By Dana Swift
YA Fantasy
Hardcover & ebook, 448 Pages
January 19, 2021 by Delacorte Press


The first book in an epic, heart-pounding fantasy duology about two royal heirs betrothed to be married, but whose loyalties are torn, and a ruthless enemy who threatens their world, perfect for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Hafsah Faizal, and Renée Ahdieh. 

Adraa is the royal heir of Belwar, a talented witch on the cusp of taking her royal ceremony test, and a girl who just wants to prove her worth to her people. 

Jatin is the royal heir to Naupure, a competitive wizard who’s mastered all nine colors of magic, and a boy anxious to return home for the first time since he was a child. 

Together, their arranged marriage will unite two of Wickery’s most powerful kingdoms. But after years of rivalry from afar, Adraa and Jatin only agree on one thing: their reunion will be anything but sweet. 

Only, destiny has other plans and with the criminal underbelly of Belwar suddenly making a move for control, their paths cross…and neither realizes who the other is, adopting separate secret identities instead. 

Between dodging deathly spells and keeping their true selves hidden, the pair must learn to put their trust in the other if either is to uncover the real threat. Now Wickery’s fate is in the hands of rivals..? Fiancées..? Partners..? Whatever they are, it’s complicated and bound for greatness or destruction.

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Would you tell us more about the main characters from CAST IN FIRELIGHT?

The two main characters are Adraa and Jatin.

Adraa is a witch with the power of fire magic who more than anything wants to be a good leader to her country. And while she’s inventive, sassy and witty she’s also insecure. Jatin is a wizard with the power of ice magic who is very powerful but fears he won’t ever have any close relationships in his life. At the beginning of the book he’s returning home to his father and is stressed about the reunion as well as the reunion with his betrothed and rival – Adraa Belwar. Throughout the book they learn a lot about themselves and each other.

Which character do you most relate to and why?

I relate to both of the main characters in different ways, but I think I have to say I resonate with Adraa more. I’m by far not as brave or outspoken as her, but she deals with this immense fear of failure and an insecurity in thinking she’s not good enough and while I think most of us can relate to that in some way, I’ve felt this a lot growing up and during my years of query rejections. But I also related to Adraa’s drive and ambition. Even though she’s scared of failure she tries her upmost to achieve her dream.

What inspired you to write a story about two characters who are arranged to be married?

Oh, for a few reasons actually. First, it’s one of my favorite tropes in fantasy romance. There is a lot of inherent conflict being engaged to someone you don’t like, and I loved exploring that. Second, a lot of inspiration for the book came from the child animation, Swan Princess. Like the beginning of that movie, I wanted a book that followed characters through their royal arrangement, but I wanted to make it even more complicated for my characters. So, they also have to deal with falling for one another all the while not knowing who they are truly interacting with.

What advice would Adraa and Jatin each give about navigating their world?

If you are Touched, meaning you can hardness magic, I think Adraa and Jatin would advise on studying spells and paying attention in school as they were both very studious. Outside of that if you got into trouble and were with them, Adraa would say something to the effect of “Stand behind me” and Jatin would say, “Don’t worry, Adraa will protect you,” as he then helps her face whatever danger is afoot.

What part or aspect of this story do you love the most?

Truthfully, I’m really happy with my book. I wrote it because I wanted to read a story like this. I know if I wasn’t the author, I would be very interested in reading CAST IN FIRELIGHT for the first time. I think what I love the most is the combination of genres. This book is fantasy action adventure meets romantic rom-com humor and I’m so happy that it has various elements I love all together in one story.

When you reach for a book to read, what genre do you grab and what are some of your favorites in that genre?

I like many genres. Of course, I love fantasy and some science fiction, but I’m also a huge fan of YA and adult romance, contemporary stories and even mysteries. In fantasy some of my favorites include: The Codex Alera Series, the Percy Jackson series and in graphic novels one of my favorites is Saga. In contemporary and romance I love anything written by Kasie West and Brigid Kemmerer. I’m always going to be a fan of novels with tournaments, strong female heroines, and books that explore identity.

When you’re not writing or reading, what do you enjoy doing?

I really like watching TV and movies. During these Pandemic times you can find me only leaving my apartment to walk my new puppy. If a Pandemic wasn’t going on though I’d be traveling, spending time with family, and going to museums.

What are you working on next?

I’m currently editing the sequel to CAST IN FIRELIGHT! And once that is done, I’m going to work on more YA Fantasy Romance projects. Maybe even a standalone next.

My Review

CAST IN FIRELIGHT is a page-turner full of adventure and romance in a fantasy world where there are touched who can wield elemental magic. The characters are marvelously done and easy to connect with, while the story keeps the reader engaged from the first to the last page. Highly recommended to YA fantasy lovers!

I really loved Adraa and Jatin from the start! I loved their conversations with their friends and with each other. I also really enjoyed how their different traits and talents worked together between the two of them. I loved how their relationship grew from a spark of attraction and interest to friendship to more. This story felt equal parts character and plot driven. I liked how things proceeded and how the characters felt fully fleshed out. The romance was sweet with some great chemistry and a few swoon-worthy moments, but I appreciated that it also didn't overtake the story.

The fantasy world was also very interesting. The different gods and the elemental powers they instilled, with a hint of more to come. The three different kingdoms and their different ways they do things. The Persia-like feel to the world was also quite lovely. There were some interesting themes of wanting to be valued, of the role of women, of two different classes and balancing those who had power versus those who didn't and of placing more importance on some powers over others. Then of course there was the constant danger, and Adraa and Jatin trying to figure out what was going on and what they could do about it.

I had just a few minor complaints. My logical mind just wouldn't let a few things go: the level of noncommunication between Adraa and her parents, how easily a gang grew unhindered, how two people who couldn't be risked were extremely risky, and the climatic moment towards the end as well as some rumors that seemed the ruling leaders couldn't do anything about. I felt like things could have still evolved the same way, but maybe with a bit more complexity and with everyone knowing something was happening instead of it feeling a bit disconnected. The other thing was how long two people could go without a formal agreement or meeting in this situation by either side (I can't say more without spoiling things). It was stretched really long. These were actually minor to my enjoyment of the story, just some things that could have been developed more.

In the end, was it what I wished for? I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! It was a fantasy world I felt completely immersed in and would love to visit again - and plan on doing so as soon as book two is out. If you love strong characters, magic, mythology, romance and plenty of action in your fantasy stories, then I'd recommend this one!

Content: Some innuendo and violence, but clean.
Source: I received a complimentary eARC from the publisher through NetGalley, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

Dana Swift started making up fantasy worlds when she was eleven years old and hasn’t stopped since. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned degrees in English and Advertising. While in college, Dana competed as a saber fencer and learned a thing or two about fighting, parrying and how it feels to fall in love with your sparring partner. She currently lives with said husband in Miami, Florida.

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One person will win a finished copy of Cast in Firelight.

The giveaway ends on January 25th.

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