The Burning Sky: The Elemental Trilogy, Book 1



Girl learns to use fire-controlling power in magical tale.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Introduces kids to Latin as well as legends and folklore.

Positive messages

Even if you've experienced great loss and betrayal, it's still possible to love -- and in the end, love conquers all.

Positive role models

Although Iolanthe and Titus both have experienced great loss and betrayal, they continue to trust. They're also willing to give up their own lives to better the world in the future.


The violence in The Burning Sky is fantasy-based and occurs through elemental magic. Mages are able to turn one or all of the four natural elements (water, air, fire, and earth) into weapons. During battles, people are able to turn wind into tornadoes as well as call bolts of lightning to strike the enemy. Swords are used for slaying dragons and fire-breathing wyverns.


One instance of passionate kissing, along with a few sexual innuendos. Teenage boys also tease one another about being "poor love-makers."


Name-calling includes "bastard," "imbecile," and "arse."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One character is said to abuse a drink called Merixida, which causes paranoia and delusion.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although The Burning Sky includes some violence, it all takes place against a fantastical backdrop with imaginary beasts and evil rulers. During battles, people are able to turn wind into tornadoes as well as call bolts of lightning to strike the enemy. Swords are used for slaying dragons and fire-breathing wyverns (winged, two-legged dragons with barbed tails). The main characters jump from the real, mundane world of England in 1883 into a book they call "the crucible" to practice using their elemental magical powers. Although most things that take place in the crucible are entirely make-believe, the characters must be careful not to abuse their good fortune, get killed, and become trapped inside the book for eternity.

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What's the story?

Iolanthe Seabourne is a 16-year-old girl learning to manage her unique ability to control fire. Her guardian has taught her a lot about elemental mages but has kept from her even more, like the fact that she is one of the greatest. Until the day she causes a lightning bolt to materialize from a clear sky, she's been unaware of her potential powers. Unbeknownst to her, seers and oracles determined years ago that she would be the greatest elemental mage for generations to come. Only the rare and great mages are able to control all four of the natural elements (earth, wind, fire, and water). However, the government is made up of oppressive rulers in constant search of any existing mages more powerful than they are. Iolanthe learns about her fate when Prince Titus witnesses the lightning bolt and is guided to her through the visions written by his mother. Now that the entire realm has witnessed this divine occurrence, the prince must guide her to safety and train her to perfect her abilities before the tyrannical government comes to destroy them both.

Is it any good?


THE BURNING SKY, by adult romance author Sherry Thomas, is full of entertainment and adventure from beginning to end. Think The NeverEnding Story meets Harry Potter. Two teenagers take on their oppressive government and use magical portals to transfer from fantasy realms to real-life England. The kids practice training by entering "the crucible" (a magical book that contains famous oracles and rulers of the past). Each page of the crucible offers a different imaginative quest that the duo must learn to conquer successfully without being killed. One of the many missions is slaying a dragon to free Sleeping Beauty from her castle. Readers will be pulled into the pages while watching the characters as if they're competing in a video game and cheer as the two escape fire-breathing wyverns and evil rulers while skillfully riding dragons through oncoming tornadoes and rainstorms.

Although Thomas has an impeccable vision for fantasy, this installment lacks that one major climactic moment all readers wait for. Also, though the adventures are fun and will keep viewers hooked, due to the many interlacing story lines the character development of the heroine falls short.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about fantasy as a genre. Why do you think it's so popular with kids, teens, and adults?

  • The Burning Sky bounces back and forth between fantasy and reality. How can you differentiate between the two?

  • Is violence easier to handle when it happens in a fantasy setting? Why, or why not?

Book details

Author:Sherry Thomas
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Fairy tales, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Balzer + Bray
Publication date:September 17, 2013
Number of pages:480
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Available on:Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle

This review of The Burning Sky: The Elemental Trilogy, Book 1 was written by

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
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  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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