Will Forte in Parks and Rec holding Photoshopped Fourth Wing books.

Just Listen to the Internet and Read This Fantasy Novel Already

Where are my dragons?!

This year, I decided to expand my reading horizons. So far, all the spicy romances and dark romances I read in 2023 have come from BookTok and Instagram recommendations. To be honest, it’s been a mixed bag. Some books have been interesting, and I’ve liked a few. Others, however, have left me questioning why I would listen to anyone on the internet to begin with. I mean, we all know the internet, especially social media, can be a place rife with problematic advice. Yet, I am staying the course and reading whatever is popular on the spicy book feeds.

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Starting in May, one novel kept popping up as being THE book of the year. After seeing a handful of videos calling it a must-read, I put the book on my library list. Right away, I was relegated to a long waitlist. Doubtful of how “good” it was, I read other novels while waiting. I finally received my turn to check it out on August 7—yes, I waited almost 3 months to read it. Opening the fantasy novel, I didn’t expect anything exciting. I was wrong. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros deserves all the hype the internet is giving it.

It’s got fantasy, romance, AND dragons!

There may not be anything revolutionary about the novel, but it’s so much fun, and I couldn’t put it down. Even with work and kids, I managed to power through it in a matter of days. Fourth Wing takes elements of Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, and How to Train Your Dragon and combines them all into something fresh and exciting, and there are so many dragons! Violet Sorrengail has trained her entire life to be a Scribe (similar to a historian). Just when she is about to attend college-level training, her mother throws her into the brutal dragon rider’s quadrant.

Violet must now commit to becoming a dragon rider or die trying. It’s high stakes right from the beginning, yet the reward will be to bond with a dragon. The lore says the bond is so deep that if a dragon dies, their rider soon perishes. Yes, I would probably go through several life-and-death scenarios to have a profound bond with a dragon. Not only do you get a dragon, but the rider develops a special magical ability from their dragon.

Truthfully, I wouldn’t have read Fourth Wing if there weren’t an underlying spicy romance. I wasn’t disappointed. Like many other dark romance readers, I love a morally grey male/pseudo-villain love interest, and Fourth Wing delivers just that. Xaden Riorson is the orphaned son of a traitor who defied their nation. He has every right to hate Violet because of what her mother did to his family, yet that’s not exactly how things unfold. Yes, it’s also got a solid enemies-to-lovers plot.

The romance is a bit of a slow burn, but when it hits, it makes up for the delay with some very spicy scenes. It was well worth the wait to read some scenes that made the characters so hot that they literally started a fire. The end of the novel has some great world-building and romance twists (even if I saw most of them coming), setting up Fourth Wing to become a series. The second novel, Iron Flame, is set to come out on November 7, and I am counting down the minutes until I can read more Xaden, Tairn, and Andarna.

(featured image: NBC/our edits)


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Author
D.R. Medlen
D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a pop culture staff writer at The Mary Sue. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer in 2019. She expertly fangirls over Marvel, Star Wars, and historical fantasy novels (the spicier the better). When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse, offspring, and animal familiars.