ARC Review: We Set the Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Title: We Set the Dark On Fire

Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia

Pub Date: February, 26th 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy


I’M IN LOVE

Thousand of years ago, the God brothers, Sun and Salt, fought for Sun’s second wife, Moon Goddess. Salt, the jealous, was forced out and Sun made Medio island prospered. A wall was built and the island divided; the Chosen Ones, smiled by Sun, live inside, closer to the capital, with all their good fortune. On the other side, the wrong side, poverty, hunger and discontent grew.

Medio society has kept the stories and traditions decade after decade; as Sun, men take two wives; a Primera to be his partner, a Segunda to be his lover. The wealthy kept wealthy and the system of injustice kept in place.

But the people are tired, tired of dying, tired of being silenced, tired of being invisible. Everyone is trying to hide their real intentions and loyalties as the resistance grows, but secrets are hard to keep when the powerful get uneasy.

For Dani, hiding is a survival thing. When she was young, her parents crossed the wall and created a completely new life for her. They sacrificed everything, risking their lives to bring her to a place of opportunities. So when Dani is sent to the prestigious Medio School for Girls, she knows she has to be the best Primera-make her parents proud and keep their pasts hidden. And she does.

Dani is marring one of the wealthiest and most powerful families of Medio, the young son of the Garcias. But as Dani lets herself breath for a moment in relief, she finds out that her Segunda, the second wife of her husband, is her mortal enemy, Carmen. Carmen, who has made her life impossible all these years, the girl that Dani can’t let herself trust but also, the girl she can’t stop thinking about.

Although Medio is a fantasy world, there’s without a doubt a complete influence of Latinx culture. Here, Latinx is the norm and the characters are allowed to exist. And it makes my heart ache.

The book takes a very hard look at the classicism and machismo in the community; the way the wealthy own communities, the ways religion is used as a justification to uphold a system of oppression, the way family and chisme are used to control people (especially young people who want to go against the norm).

Mateo is the personification of the Latinx macho man, the one who grew in a culture that justifies and validates his abuse. He is a quite simple character; a man born with power that believes that the world belongs to him. And the world kind of does.

Dani is ready to occupy her role as Primera, to be her husband loyal partner, to provide her knowledge and hard work. But she soon learns, that’s not how Mateo sees her, not like her equal (like he should, according to their traditions), but as a silly, innocent girl who he owns. This a shock for our main character, but also, the push she needs to make a choice, to let her loyalty for the Medio unfair traditions go.

Dani is not the center or the organizer of the revolution. No, this story is about Dani deciding to go against everything she has been taught, everything she has forced herself to believe (about herself and the world) is wrong. How much is Dani willing to sacrifice? How far will she go?

Oh Dani is an amazing character. She’s so brave, brave to go against what she is supposed, brave to fight back, brave to stand up for herself, brave to realize that she doesn’t own her parents her entire life, that she is allowed to make her own choices too. Carmen is the other side, the one who is allowed (by society) to be sentimental, silly, romantic. But she’s also wearing a mask, a mask to show society what she’s supposed to, to hide her real feelings and thoughts. They don’t like each other at first, not at all, but soon they learn that their secrets are painful to carry alone. And tentatively they become friends. A friendship that slowly grows into romance. Although this book is full of tension, fear and darkness, I can assure, there are girls kissing and girls thinking about kissing and girls who fall for each other.

One thing I wished we have seen more: the gods and goddess. The religion in this book is fascinating and very interesting, I hope we see more in the next book.

We Set The Dark On Fire is not subtle on its hard looks on xenophobia, privilege, oppression, poverty, social revolution. It doesn’t matter where you look, this book is heartbreaking and heartwarming, everything it discusses is very respectful and honest. Ultimately, it’s a story of hope. A reminder, really, that like Dani, we’re not alone. Keep fighting!

Highly recommend if you like:

  • YA fantasy with social themes
  • Rivals to lovers trope
  • Unapologetic sapphic Latinx girls

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Are you planning to read it? Do you like the rivals to lovers trope?

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ARC review: Miss Dominguez’s Christmas Kiss and Other Stories by Lydia San Andres

Title: Miss Dominguez’s Christmas Kiss and Other Stories

Author: Lydia San Andres

Publication Date: 2019

Genre: Historical Romance

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Synopsis

from goodreads

Miss Dominguez’s Christmas Kiss 
When Lourdes Dominguez moved into Mrs. Gomez’s boarding house, she was assured that sharing a room with Marisol Pascual would suit them both–-and it did. 

(This story is available for free at www.lydiasanandres.com/extras

Mrs. Gomez’s New Year’s Surprise 
Running a boarding house had its challenges and Tom Hale, the disruptive, irritating, handsome new boarder was the biggest one Genoveva Gomez had ever encountered. 

Miss Weiss’s Reyes Present 
Leticia Weiss never thought she would she would fall for a customer of the department store where she works…until she met David Ramos


ARC provided by the author in exchange of an honest review. Thank you, Lydia!

I’m In Love

Three stories set in Ciudad Real during the Holidays; Christmas, New Years and Reyes Magos. All the stories feature characters that live in Mrs. Gomez’s boarding house. Sweet, fun and delightful, with tons of mentions of food, this anthology will make you hungry and happy for the rest of the day. You will not able to hold giggles with Mrs. Gomez, knowing smiles with Miss Dominguez and happy screams with Miss Weiss.

Although Ciudad Real is located in a fictional Caribbean island, it feels real. It’s a combination of Latinx culture; food, traditions, holidays, slang… All these small details that made me smile through the reading, barely noticed but that feels so authentic.

All the historical romance I have read it’s always set in Europe and the 1800s (nothing wrong with that, of course!) and this anthology is a welcomed, and very needed, change. Plus these are holiday stories! And like a good holiday romance, it’s fluffy, atmospheric and very sweet.

It’s not only the setting, the Latinx rep and the phenomenal writing that makes me so in love with this story, but also how the characters are also 100% wonderful. Three different women, with very different situations, but also so fierce. They want more and don’t know what. Or they do but refuse to acknowledge that the more is with someone else. Of course, these are short stories so they come to realize their feelings and accept their lovely love interests pretty quickly. But there is still some wonderful angst, the will they dare? that I love.

Why will you love these stories?

-Miss Dominguez’s Christmas Kiss is a sapphic romance with friends to lovers trope. The story doesn’t revolve around society (does society accept their love? will they would be okay?) No, this story is about Lourdes falling for her friend and roommate, finding out that yes, Marisol likes girls too and yes, she wants to be with her too. Incredibly sweet.

-Mrs. Gomez’s New Year’s Surprise is an age gap plus opposite attracts. In some ways, it’s tropes in reverse; Genoveva is the older one and she’s quite grumpy and resistant to the tension between them. Tom, meanwhile, is incredibly sweet, with the best intentions and very awkward. He adores her and I adore them.

-Miss Weiss’s Reyes Present is for everyone who loves insta-love. Although the story is full of misfortunes, it’s clear for the beginning that these two are destined to be together. Their interactions are adorable and I couldn’t stop smiling. They’re so eager and happy to be in each others company.

Highly Recommend If You

  • would like to try historical romance
  • want something set outside the US and Europe for rombkbingo
  • are looking for romance stories that center Latinx voices

Lydia is quickly becoming one of my must-read-everything-she-writes authors. Seriously, I would even read her shopping list (wow that didn’t sound creepy at all).


Also by Lydia San Andres: