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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Sand and Storm by Stella Dorthwany is the first book in the Legendary Magic series. While on the run after helping a group of larats who are being mistreated, Faryn seeks help from Professor Shaun Valerian, known for his reputation as a heart-breaker. Not only does he help her catch her train, but he offers her an internship in the Caladoner desert where she discovers secrets that go beyond the sarcophagi. Faryn uncovers the last piece of a weapon needed as a storm brews that could destroy magic. What she doesn't expect is for her cousin to arrive at the same temple with her new husband. Cora is whisked away by her husband on a mission into the desert where, instead of starting their life together, he spends his days focused on the sands and pretending she doesn't exist. As the magic of the sands calls out to her, the growing bond between Cora and Damorin pulls them into the middle of a powerful magic.
The story is told from various perspectives, but is primarily split between Faryn and Cora, cousins leading vastly different lives that ultimately end up interconnecting. Both of them have choices to make as heroes saving magic and as women navigating romance and making decisions for their futures. The relationships are highly complicated with a hint of A Midsummer Night's Dream influence and fun, romantic comedy elements. Faryn has deep feelings and respect for Shaun, who acts a friend, confidant, and a magical mentor to her. While they have respect and an air of flirtiness about their dynamic, there's also a wall between them as Shaun keeps her at a distance, which is made more complicated by two other characters she interacts with. An old friend has a connection with her from the past and gives her a stable and safe choice for a future. Then there's the cheeky and large personality that is Rahbi, who has this tendency to propose to women without actually going through with the engagement.
The most significant relationship is the one between Cora and Faryn who haven't seen each other since Cora's parents and Faryn's mother died, and have a rift between them, but being in this chaotic desert they get a chance to bond again while also finding closure and a new start. The cousins have a spunky back and forth as both are strong women who take hold of their fears and run into danger if it means helping someone. They're also never afraid to speak their minds and stand their ground, which makes them both instantly likable. They're very different with Cora the more serious and composed one with a sensitive and dreaming personality, and Faryn the more empathetic one with a deep connection to animals and an often lighthearted demeanor. Sand and Storm navigates two love stories as Cora and Faryn enter into a battle to save magic in the desert. Stella Dorthwany weaves a world of magic and sand, brought to life with vivid details and stunning characters. Magic is all around them in the wind, the sand, and through the characters themselves.