Check Out This Preview for New YA Fantasy Novel 'Roar' | The Mary Sue
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Check Out This Preview for Roar, Featuring Magic and Fantasy and Stormy Weather, Oh My

roar cover

Hey gang! We’ve got a pretty sweet preview to share with you today from our friends at Tor!

What follows is an excerpt from Roar, a new YA fantasy novel by New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack. The gist is: Aurora Pavan is the last heir to a ruling family who gained their position because they possessed powerful storm magic. The problem is, Pavan hasn’t shown any sign of having gained any magical powers just yet. Thanks to some inter-kingdom wheeling and dealing, she’s set up in a marriage to a “dark and brooding Stormling prince” from another kingdom. Things aren’t quite what they seem, though, as she learns there’s a connection between the storm magic that she seems to be missing and the shady new prince she’s suddenly engaged to.

Check out the excerpt below, and you can find the official description and blurb below! And don’t forget to sound off in the comments: what do you think? Will you be picking up Roar when it comes out on April 25th?

When the sky was still a deep purple, Rora found her horse, Honey, in the stable and presented her with an apple as a preemptive apology for everything that was about to change. The brown horse nuzzled into Rora’s hand, and then sniffed at the scarf wrapped around her head. She could probably smell the paste Nova had mixed to dye Rora’s hair a dark brown.

“Ssh, girl. We’re going on a little adventure. You like adventure, don’t you?”

Honey nipped at Rora’s fingers in a gesture she liked to think was a yes. She’d been too busy to ride this week, and she missed it. When Rora’s fingers were tangled in Honey’s coarse white mane, her body tucked low against the horse’s back, nothing could catch her. Not a castle guard, not her mother, not a storm in the sky, or the tempest of thoughts in her head. Now they would be escaping for far more than a few hours of peace.

She tacked up the horse with the oldest saddle and bridle she could find and set off for the palace gate. There she found one of the usual guards.

“Elmont, it’s me,” Rora said when she drew near.

She should have been exhausted from lack of sleep, but the quick beat of her heart was pumping adrenaline through her body. He didn’t release the hilt of the sword at his hip as he peered through the darkness.

“Princess?” She cringed at the title and the reminder it brought of everything she was about to leave behind. “Where are you going?”

“Just a ride to calm my nerves.”

Rora didn’t let her smile falter as she moved closer, within the glow of the lantern by his post. She couldn’t very well go prancing about with her newly changed hair. Not without every one discovering the truth of what was about to happen. He looked at the scarf she wore, but did not comment.

He gave her a cheery smile. “Nervous? I wouldn’t worry too much. I’ve not seen anything yet that you can’t do. A wedding should be a piece of cake.”

His face had taken on its usual red hue at her arrival. She felt a sting of guilt over the share of the blame he would take for letting her out on this particular morning.

“Elmont, you always start my days off well.”

The crimson of his cheeks deepened, and he stood a little taller. “I am proud to be of service, Your Highness.”

Everything had a sense of finality to it this morning. Rora’s eyes lingered over every detail as Elmont opened the palace gates with his skyfire affinity. She wasn’t sure when she would return to Pavan, but she knew everything would be different when she did. She would be different. And in many ways, she already was.

Tears teased at the corners of Rora’s vision as she made her way through the quiet, sleepy city, and then in too short a time, she was past the outer walls. It was early enough that she didn’t yet see the hunters anywhere in the vicinity, so she took off in her usual direction, pushing Honey into a gallop. It didn’t take long to put her out of sight of the guards atop the city walls. She kept going, enjoying one last ride through the familiar wheat fields that would soon glisten gold in the sunlight. On any other morning ride, she and Honey might have meandered through the fields; Rora would have lain on her back, letting the stalks sway in the breeze around her. But this was not a normal morning.

Rora soon doubled back toward Pavan and stopped at an open field where wild flowers grew in colorful patches. She and Nova had agreed that this spot was the best setting for a fake kidnapping. She slid off Honey’s back and quickly changed out of her dress and into a pair of trousers and tunic. She tore a few strips off the hem of the dress before tucking it away into a saddlebag. Then she retrieved one of her knives and took a deep breath.

She hadn’t wanted to worry anyone more than necessary, but it was imperative that Nova’s story was believed. Otherwise Rora would put her friend and Queen Aphra in a great deal of trouble. So with a strange sense of calm, she sliced the knife along her palm, sprinkling some blood on the torn fabric and the road. She rode along the southern road, letting blood drip as she went. Every so often, she dropped a bloodied piece of cloth, as if she were trying to leave clues about the direction her kidnappers were taking her. If all went according to plan, she would be on her way east with the hunters by the time they started searching for her. Stormling kidnappings were not uncommon, and all the rumors of Rora’s incredible skill made her a more valuable target.

Finally, she bandaged her hand and doubled back the way she came. When she could see the palace dome in the gradually lightening sky, she unwound the scarf from her head. Her new hair was dark and shorter, cut to her shoulders. She kept reaching back for the rest, only to come up empty. Nova would leave the village for the wildflower field at dawn, and an hour later she would run back to the palace with the tale they had devised. It was too late to turn back, even if Rora wanted to.

Her stomach turned with nerves, but she knew she had prepared as best as she could. She’d fi lled her packs with everything she thought might prove useful: A bow and arrows to go with her cherished knives, books on languages and herbs and wildlife, coin enough to buy whatever she might need, her favorite book for comfort, and her brother’s twister ring. It was a selfish addition, a reminder of home and of the grief she would leave behind if she did not manage to return.

Rora waited within a copse of trees until the sun breathed gold and pink across the heavens, then she pushed Honey into a trot toward a caravan on the eastern road she assumed belonged to the hunters.

There were half a dozen horses, two of which were harnessed to a carriage unlike any she had ever seen. The front curved out like a globe and was made of glass. The back was boxy, and atop the glinting metal roof were unfamiliar contraptions that spun in the wind.

When her eyes found Locke, he was standing near the coach, facing the city. His arms were crossed over his chest, and his body tight with tension. She called out, “Hoping I wouldn’t show?”

He turned, and his hair blew over his face in the breeze. He frowned and glanced behind Rora. “Where did you come from?”

She gestured to the road behind her. “I was too excited to sleep, so I went for a ride.”

His frown deepened. “Where did you get the horse?”

“I didn’t steal her, if that’s what you’re accusing me of.” At least . . . not really. She was Rora’s.

His jaw clenched. “I didn’t say that.”

“Then why ask?”

“I thought you were—”

“A helpless girl who needed you to rescue her? Did you expect me to show up with nothing but the clothes on my back, needing you for every little thing? While you might have helped me the other night, generally I can take care of myself just fine.”

He ground his teeth so hard, Rora wouldn’t have been surprised to see them crumble into dust in his mouth. “I didn’t say that either.”

“Good. Because I would have been tempted to have Honey here trample you if you did.”

With a loud, metallic scrape, a hatch slid open on top of the strange coach, and a loud laugh poured out from it, followed shortly by Bait’s fiery red-orange hair.

“Marry me. Please. Anyone who threatens Locke without batting an eye is my ideal woman.”

Locke turned on the other hunter, his face set in a menacing scowl, and the young teen gave an inelegant squeak before disappearing into the carriage. Rora laughed, and Locke’s scowl was turned on her. But rather than the angry retort she expected, he barked, “Your hair is dark.”

Her stomach flipped in momentary fear before she said, “So?”

He shrugged, grumbling something she couldn’t hear before gesturing for her to get down from her horse. He reintroduced her to each member of the crew. Most of them were enthusiastic at the prospect of her joining the team. Jinx had practically tackled her in excitement. Ransom was more subdued, but she had the feeling that he rarely showed much emotion. Sly, on the other hand, had not even tried to disguise her glare. Rora remembered only a brief glimpse of the girl that first night in the market, and that made more sense when Locke said, “Sly is our stealth specialist. You won’t hear her sneaking up on you unless she wants you to hear her.” The smile Sly gave Rora after that declaration made the hair on her neck rise.

“You can ride in the Rock,” Locke said, gesturing toward the odd carriage. Through the glass dome at the front, she could see all manner of knobs and dials and cranks, and though she was curious, her pull toward Honey was stronger.

“I’d prefer to be on my horse.”

He sighed, tightening his grip on her elbow. “This isn’t going to work if you argue with everything I say.”

“I wasn’t arguing. My horse has never left this area. I’d prefer to be with her, so she stays calm. Do I need to argue?”

“Fine,” he said, but he didn’t look happy about it. “Get on your horse. We’re leaving now.” He followed that declaration with a shrill whistle that was apparently the signal for everyone else to pack up and prepare to leave. Duke and Bait both climbed into the Rock, and the redheaded teen blew her a playful kiss before he closed the top hatch. Everyone else took a horse, leaving a few more horses to carry supplies.

Rora crossed to Honey and ran a hand along her flank before hoisting herself up into the saddle. She leaned against Honey’s neck, patting the horse’s jaw and asked, “Ready, girl?”

Honey stamped her hooves restlessly as if to say get on with it. Rora knew it was a risk taking Honey with her, but she needed her as a reminder of home, as a companion in an adventure that was either brave or insane.

“Sly, you take lead. We’re not expecting to run into any storms today, but you have the best eyes. Ran, you bring up the tail. Bait— you ready?”

From inside the carriage, Rora heard Bait call out, “Ready!”

She frowned. There had been two horses hooked to the carriage when she arrived, but now those horses were saddled with supplies, and the carriage sat alone. How did they expect it to move without horses? She heard another scrape of metal, a loud whooshing noise that morphed into a whir, and the clank of turning gears. The sound sped up, and she saw Duke pull a lever inside the Rock. The wheels of the carriage began to roll despite the utter lack of incline on the land. The wheels spun faster, until the carriage was a dozen horse lengths ahead.

With another whistle from Locke, the remaining crew took off on horseback. Rora tapped her heels against Honey’s sides, and they darted forward. Honey must have been excited or anxious, because the horse took off faster than Rora expected. With a pull on the reins and a few soft whispers, Rora convinced Honey to ease her harried pace, and they moved into position on the left of the carriage near Locke.

“How does the Rock move?” she asked. “I have never seen anything like it.”

“That’s because it’s the only one of its kind as far as I know. And it works on storm magic. There’s an enclosed space in the back, a chamber that we throw torque magic into, and the rotation turns a ratchet system that turns other gears that turn the wheels and allow the carriage to move unassisted.”

“Torque magic?”

“It’s what hunters call storms that rotate around a center point. The eye.”

She frowned. “I’ve never heard it called that. Not in all the books I’ve read about—”

“Ah, but your books are written by Stormlings, aren’t they? They inherit their power. They rely on their magic to fight at a distance. Any idiot with an affinity can dispel a storm, but to get close and stay close long enough to steal magic— that takes skill.”

“And just a dash of a death wish,” Jinx called back.

“Maybe a little more than a dash.” Locke smiled at his friend, and it was the first one Rora had seen from him since she arrived.

He turned back to her and continued: “No one has ever gotten as good a look at the inner workings of a storm as us. To defeat a storm without an affinity, you have to know how it behaves, which is why we divided storms by movement. Besides torque, there’s torrent—rain, snow, sleet, lightning.”

“Storms that move from sky to ground?”

“Exactly. Third type is tide. Anything that sweeps over the land like an ocean tide. Sandstorms are one. Though it can happen with dust here in the grasslands too.”

“Fog,” she supplied quietly. Though unassuming, fog had always featured prominently in her nightmares. Perhaps it was the parallel to her real life— that slow, agonizing creep toward the inevitable. Fog had not the strength of a twister or the power of a firestorm, but fog was greedy with its victims. Once it had them trapped in the mists, it liked to keep them, wandering till madness or death or both.

“Depending on which of us you talk to, tsunamis or forest fires could be considered tide storms too.”

“Those have Stormhearts?” Rora had thought it only the religious sects that worshiped storms who believed that way.

Locke shrugged. “Your guess is as good as mine. Sly believes they do because that’s how she grew up. Her tribe believed all extreme acts of nature to be storms. They believe that storms come from the souls of the dead who lived exemplary lives. They’re birthed again as part of the elements. But as far as I know, no one has ever successfully captured a Stormheart from one.”

“Sly belongs to the Church of the Sacred Souls?” Rora had read about the cult that worshiped storms, but she never considered it more than superstition and foolishness.

Locke laughed. “Don’t let her hear you say that. The Church of the Sacred Souls is a new group that borrowed some old ideals. Sly was raised by a much older tradition. In Vyhodi.”

Rora’s jaw dropped. Those that remained of the first tribes after the Time of Tempests were said to be extremely devoted to the old ways, the old gods. They did not even associate with the rest of Caelira. They had no royalty or palaces but lived simple lives in the near wilderness. How had Sly come to join a crew that hunted storms if she was from a tribe that worshiped them?

“And what do you believe?” she asked Locke.

He adjusted his grip on the reins and tossed his head to move some unruly hair out of his face. “I think this world is an incredibly complex place and we’ve barely scratched the surface of knowing it. But I’d rather stay dead and buried than come back as a storm.”

“Then I guess we don’t disagree on everything.”

He looked at her, but did not smile like he did for Jinx. “I suppose not.”

“When do you think we’ll meet our first storm?” Rora asked. Her heart thumped as something occurred to her. “Will we wait for the storm approaching Pavan?”

“You are not ready to be anywhere near a storm, princess.” She opened her mouth to argue, but he added, “And we only hunt in the wilds. Unclaimed territories are fair game, but near cities, the risk of getting tangled up with Stormling militaries is high. They’d sooner throw people like us to the storms than save us.”

She wanted to object to his insult to the military, many members of whom had offered up their time and patience over the years to help her. She hated to think ill of them, but if Locke was wary and Nova too, she would have to learn from the experiences of others instead of just her own.

Locke picked up speed, pulling away from her and focusing his gaze ahead of them. Rora knew that was her dismissal, and she saved the rest of her questions for later.

They were moving past the wheat fields now. She loosened her grip on the reins, and twisted her torso for one last long look at home. The palace glittered in the early morning light, the black rolling clouds of an incoming storm unfurled behind it. Pavan was not a particularly religious land. They held no monuments to the old gods, only to Stormlings. Her homeland had stopped looking up for answers centuries ago. Only one thing came from the heavens here, and it wasn’t hope.

But even so, Rora said a prayer to whoever would listen. Whether it was the old gods or nature or simply the open air that surrounded her. She prayed for safety on this journey, and that Nova would not suffer any consequences from helping Rora. She prayed that her mother would understand and forgive her. And selfishly, she prayed that when she returned, Cassius would be long gone, and she would never have to face him again.

With that done, she took a deep breath and said her final good-bye.

To Pavan. And to Aurora.

From this point on, she could only be Roar.

New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack’s young adult debut: the start of a captivating new YA fantasy/romance series perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and Victoria Aveyard
In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.
She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

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Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (, and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters ( She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.