The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas (The Elemental Trilogy #1)
It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning....
Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation - or so she's been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of the Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant 16-year-old girl with no training.
Guided by his mother's visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission - and her life.
The Burning Sky the first book in the Elemental Trilogy - is an electrifying and unforgettable novel of intrigue and adventure.
TITLE: The Burning Sky
AUTHOR: Sherry Thomas
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
LENGTH: 449 pages (11 hours 36 minutes)
AGE: Young Adult
GENRE: Fantasy, Romance
DNF 5 hours in (43%).
I thought I was going to read a second-world fantasy, not boarding school in magic-adjacent Britain. The magic system is probably the best thing in the book, but I tuned out as the relationship between the main characters became explicitly manipulative. The girl-disguised-as-boy seemed like it was using queer-adjacent tension to drive a m/f relationship, which is fine I guess, but I didn't get far enough to evaluate how that's handled overall.
Moderate CW for homophobia, racism, bullying, emotional abuse, fire, blood, toxic friendship, toxic relationship, injury detail, medical content, colonization.
Minor CW for drug abuse, drug use, war, self harm, death.