Review: Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst

My Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A few facts about Race the Sands:

  • Title: Race the Sands
  • Author: Sarah Beth Durst
  • Series: Standalone
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager
  • Pages: 544

I read The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids on my Kindle.

Synopsis:

In this standalone fantasy, a pair of strong and determined women risk their lives battling injustice, corruption, and deadly enemies in their quest to become monster racing champions.

Life, death, and rebirth—in Becar, everyone knows that who you are in this life will determine what you are in your next life. The augurs can read your fate in your aura: hawk, heron, tortoise, jackal, human. Armed with that knowledge, you can change your destiny with the choices you make, both in this life and your next. But for the darkest individuals, there is no redemption: you come back as a kehok, a monster, and you will always be a kehok for the rest of time.

Unless you can win the Races.

As a professional trainer, Tamra was an elite kehok rider. Then a tragic accident on the track shattered her confidence, damaged her career, and left her nearly broke. Now Tamra needs the prize money to prevent the local temple from taking her daughter away from her, and that means she must once again find a winning kehok . . . and a rider willing to trust her.

Raia is desperate to get away from her domineering family and cruel fiancé. As a kehok rider, she could earn enough to buy her freedom. But she can’t become good enough to compete without a first-rate trainer.

Impressed by the inexperienced young woman’s determination, Tamra hires Raia and pairs her with a strange new kehok with the potential to win—if he can be tamed.

But in this sport, if you forget you’re riding on the back of a monster, you die. Tamra and Raia will work harder than they ever thought possible to win the deadly Becaran Races—and in the process, discover what makes this particular kehok so special.

(Goodreads)

Review:

Oh, this book! It is an absolutely amazing standalone fantasy and I found it even more pleasing as a reader having read the author’s comments at the end. 

I believe that fantasy is a literature of hope and empowerment. It can serve as a light in the darkness, as a guide toward strength, and as an escape from pain. It is my secret hope that someone will read Tamra and Raia’s story and realize that they can be who they want to be, that they can shape the world, that they can race the sands—and win.

Durst, Sarah Beth. Race the Sands.

This was my first time reading Durst’s work, and she certainly made an impression. I loved everything about this book and it is one of the most enjoyable books I have read this year.

Durst’s writing style is also lovely, it is well written and flows seamlessly. She just keeps you reading with each chapter. 

I was in love as soon as I finished the first chapter!

Tamra…just what a character she is. She was incredible because she was so real and strong. I truly appreciated her as a person, for me she was one of the main driving forces. I wanted to see her succeed and gods I wanted her to be able to protect her family. I found her character rather gritty who knew her flaws and had accepted them.

“Maybe they are purer than me. But that doesn’t make their actions right.”

The plot was great, it was filled with political manoeuvrings, intrigue, action sequences and obviously the kehok races. I found the whole thing to be really well paced and Durst kept me reading each chapter. The last ten or so percent of the books were really fun to read too! Though, not taking anything away from the rest of the book, I was so excited reading the conclusion. While I guessed most of how the story would unravel it made it no less enjoyable to read because Durst is an incredible storyteller.

While it was the whole riding monstrous kehok’s in a bid for redemption that initially grabbed me, it was the characters and the world-building that held me. Set in the desert world of Becar, Durst’s world-building is an experience. There was a healthy amount of description and focus on the spiritual culture of Becar.

I would definitely recommend this to fantasy fans both younger and older and feel this book is going to remain one of my favorites this year!! Durst blurs the lines between Young Adult and Adult in this book so it is more than appropriate for both readers. It would also serve, I feel, as a transitional read for those reading younger fantasy books who want to move into Adult Fantasy.

The only thing that prevents this from being a five is that I would like to have known the reason for the Lions ending… 

**Below is kinda spolier’ish. Maybe. I don’t think it tells to much but because I have been vague but if you don’t want to risk it stop reading.** 

Why didn’t it happen? Was the charm lost or corrupted? Did they want to honour him as he was? Would he be reborn a Kehok after this form despite the reasons behind his becoming of a Kehok? Answer those and this is becomes a five star rating in a breath.

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