The Student Site of Castilleja School


The Student Site of Castilleja School


The Student Site of Castilleja School


Reece Reads: Fourth Wing book review


During the summer of 2023, very few things monopolized my mind as effectively as the following. One: college apps, or lack thereof (I’m sorry Ms. McColgan). Two: the weather (need I say more?). And three: “Fourth Wing” (a fantasy-romance novel written by Rebecca Yarros that has taken over TikTok… or at least BookTok).

I first heard of this novel during my endless, mindless scrolls of social media while procrastinating the aforementioned work. It was labeled the book of the summer. A must-read for all self-respecting fantasy lovers. And given those taglines, I knew I had to read it.

I first visited the local library, but the waitlist was well over seven months long. So naturally, I succumbed to capitalism and bought a copy for myself. Now this process wasn’t easy, as the first editions had already sold out and the book was on backorder. I had to wait just under a month to receive my own copy, and after all this time, my expectations were higher than Castilleja’s when they say “No left turns on Kellogg.” 

I’m happy to say Yarros did not disappoint. 

“Fourth Wing” by Rebecca Yarros is a fantasy-romance novel that takes place in the mystical world of Navarre with a backdrop of Basgiath War College: a school that trains riders, fighters, healers, and scribes. The main character, Violet, has been preparing her whole life to become a scribe. But less than a year before Conscription Day, where she must enter the college and choose her fate, her mom, who is also the commanding general, forces her to join the Riders Quadrant, A.K.A. imminent death.

If rider cadets don’t die on the perilous path to their dorms, they’re most likely to be killed by a fellow cadet during the grueling training it takes to become a Navarre elite: a Dragon rider.  

But with well over three hundred cadets, and just about a hundred unboned dragons, not everyone will get the chance. 

Violet, who is already at a disadvantage thanks to her last name, her loose ligaments, and her fragile bones, is about to enter a cutthroat world of suspense, fire, betrayal, and romance. 

Now, this novel is by far the best book I’ve read this year. It’s the perfect mix of fantasy, humor, friendship, and of course, romance. The main love interest, Xanden, is the son of the man who killed Violet’s brother. And Violet’s mom is the woman who killed his father. It’s the epitome of enemies to lovers, and it’s handled beautifully. Given the context of the story, a literal war college, it’s fair to say there were more than a few dagger-to-throat scenes, and each one was better than the last. Brutality such as this could be seen as toxic, and many people argue that you shouldn’t be attracted to toxic men, but to quote Violet herself, “Here I am, getting all attracted” (109).

Unlike other fantasy novels I’ve read, the main characters, particularly the female lead, are anything but meek. Violet may seem docile at first, given her lack of confidence, but it quickly becomes clear she’s a force to be reckoned with, both intellectually and physically. In fact, Xanden, after only knowing her for about a week, gives Violet the nickname “Violence” after participating in a previously mentioned dagger scene. 

Although there seem to be no catalysts for Xanden’s eventual attraction to Violet, he is truly one of the most developed love interests I have read about in a while. The tension between Xanden and Violet is palpable and believable, which is rare in fantasy novels. Additionally, Xanden exists within his own world outside of Violet’s attraction, which allows the character to have depth, context, and character development. Xanden endures his own battles and mental struggles which in turn makes him a more mysterious and valuable character within the romantic arc. 

Now as a disclaimer, there is a love triangle in the book, but it’s negligible compared to the trope and the author writes it beautifully. The motivations for choosing Xanden over the other love interest are so clear, and unlike other novels (I’m looking at you, “Shatter Me”), the trope isn’t dragged out for the plot as this novel actually has a storyline. 

Like every fantasy novel, this book contains a war, but it’s so much more than that. Given that the characters are still cadets, the story mainly takes place at the school, but despite these limitations, the book is filled with witty characters, enticing banter and lots of romantic tension.

To stray from my norm, let’s talk about something other than romance: the dragons. These creatures are not just props to their bonded riders as it is clear each has a unique personality, sense of humor, and motivation. Yarros truly created a world that acts independently of our own and is engaging, complex, and perfectly chaotic in the best ways.

At just under five hundred pages, “Fourth Wing” is a bit long but so worth it. It’s clearly the first book in a series, but this novel sets up the rest of the story perfectly. “Fourth Wing” ends on a cliffhanger that left me gagged, so I can’t wait for y’all to read it so that we can talk about it. I’m absolutely obsessed, and I can’t wait for the sequel. Come November, I’ll be insufferable. 

I rate “Fourth Wing” six out of five C’s with the sixth being capitalism because you need to buy this book immediately.

Reece Reads is published biweekly on Fridays. To access more reviews, click the “Reece Reads” tag below.

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