Welcome to book spotlight where instead of giving you another book review, I’m just going to talk about books I’ve read recently that I enjoyed. Prepare yourself for the fangirl gushing.

When it comes to Cast in Firelight by Dana Swift, I want to make something clear: I requested this book from NetGalley because of the cover. Oh, sure, the fantasy synopsis interested me as well, but that cover is so freaking stunning. Charlie Bowater has a gift.

But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the book holds up to the standard that gorgeous cover promises. Cast in Firelight, while dipping into layers of serious moments, is overall a lot of fun.

First off, the magic system and world-building was epic. I love the different types of color casting and the abilities that come with each. It came across as such a unique take on elemental and colorful magic without being either. I also love that the “royals” are gifted with all nine castings, even if they aren’t necessarily good at all of them. They still have to study and train and work for it. That was cool.

The underground casting fights were epic as well! I love seeing more than one side to a new fantasy world, and this one has so many layers that brought it to life.

The world-building also feels so realistic and lived in. I love that Dana Swift used her husband’s heritage for inspiration but she also made it her own. My ARC didn’t include a map, but I hope there will be a map of some sort included in the book or maybe a sequel because the different kingdoms and areas mentioned in the book is so expansive. I would love to see a map of everything laid out. All fantasy books should include a good map.

Second, I love the premise of the story. I am weak for rival to lover relationships and secret identities, and this one pulls both off so well! There are actually good reasons why the main characters keep their identities a secret from each other, and the reveals aren’t dragged out unnecessarily. It made sense and worked together with the plot. Sometimes these kind of stories irritate me because I just want the characters to talk to each other, but while I wish Jatin had come clean a little earlier, it didn’t bother me as much because I felt like I understood why they both make the decisions they made. Even the insta-y love didn’t bother me as much as it does in other stories because the characters were given time to figure out their feelings.

Which brings me to the premise! I love that the main plot ties back into the magic and Adraa’s ability. Everything comes together well with the promise of more conflict for a sequel. It was exciting and action-packed and just so well done.

This is definitely a book to read if you’re a fan of YA fantasy that also includes a well-done romance side plot. I will be looking forward to any sequels or other books Dana Swift writes in the future!

Waffle recommendation: This could go two ways, depending on your mood. Part of me wants to recommend pizza waffles because red sauce and fire and that cover all seem to just jive together. But there is an element in the book that relies on snow and ice, so grabbing some ice cream and whipped cream to go with your waffle could work as well. I don’t know enough recipe options to make fire and ice work together, but if anybody has ideas, feel free to share!

If there was a way to combine waffle with Indian cuisine, such as rice and curry or something, I would totally recommend that as well. Anytime the characters ate in this book I was craving such delicious food so much. I wonder if there’s a way to make naan but waffle-like. I’m not a chef.