The Hurricane Wars by Thea Guanzon wants to be a love story, but it doesn’t feel like one. By the end of the book, very little romantic progress has been made and the character development is alarmingly static. No one seemed to gain any ground for so long that the story felt like a storm building off-shore but failed to make landfall.
After a decade-long war, Kseath dealt a devastating blow to Sardovia, and the country is in the midst of losing another critical territory. As the battle rages on, Talasyn tries to retreat and accidentally reveals her Lightweaver abilities during a confrontation with the Kseath crown prince, Alaric Ossinast. As far as Kseath is concerned, they eradicated every Lightweaver years ago, and Talasyn’s light is one more that must be put out. However, each time that Talasyn and Alaric clash, their hatred softens to reveal a mutual curiosity. Despite their conflicting loyalties, the two enter a volatile alliance to serve their end goals, but there is little room for trust after a life of so much destruction.
While I’m a sad, delulu Reylo shipper, this book worked hard to confirm my suspicions that this is a story inspired by my favorite Star Wars couple. Here’s my evidence. The story features a dark prince with exceptional shadow magic skills, and he meets his opposite and equal in an untested girl with light powers who is her country’s last hope. Talaysn is supported by Leia, I mean, a veteran female general who is training her and guiding her journey. Alaric is influenced and ruled by Snoke, ahem, his father who admonishes Alaric’s weakness and pushes him to further their terrible reign. Don’t even get me started on Alaric’s character description which is literally Adam Driver, y’all. Down to the leather gloves and the beauty marks on his face. I swear this book wanted to explore a world where Rey and Kylo were forced to work together, but even my love for those two could not overcome my struggles with this book.
Prepare yourself for the info-dumping avalanche that buries you thoroughly at the beginning of this book. As fantasy readers, we expect the entry into a new world to be slow going, but the amount of world-building here was smothering. In the beginning, Guanzon writes like she is running out of time and space. It forces the reader to digest almost every single detail about the world, the war, the opposing sides, the technology, and the magic system within the first couple of chapters. This info is often delivered via long, overly descriptive sentences—I counted one instance containing more than 80 words. Part one of the book is anxiety-ridden. It trips over itself and tries to cover as much ground as possible so it can get to the romance arc in part two. I can tell Guanzon was in a rush because the writing completely changed in the second half. The goal of part one was to get all the worldbuilding out of the way so we could focus on what’s really important—Rey and Kylo ending up together.
Part one gave me the impression that a lot of time was spent crafting the magic system, but the story doesn’t give it the time of day. All the elements are there for the magic system to be this incredible living and breathing thing but it falls dead in the water. Guanzon opens the book by sharing how her magic system was important and that it served to capture the unique, tumultuous weather of the Philippines and its effects on its people. However, the story doesn’t focus on the magic. It’s a story about Talasyn and Alaric navigating a world together when they both have very different end goals. As a result, the magic and all the technology that springs from it just become tools for them to use. As evidenced by the early info dumping, the magic system is there to set the stage but its relevance started as a hurricane and got downgraded to a tropical storm.
The Hurricane Wars struggled under the weight of its heavy-handed worldbuilding and suffered from a forgotten magic system and two main characters that dominated the story with their awkward dance. Their swinging pendulum of emotions and stunted dialogue was difficult to sit through, and unfortunately, no amount of Reylo references could keep me invested in this strange romance.
Rating: The Hurricane Wars – 5.0/10
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. The thoughts on this story are my own.