Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst — ARC Review

Race the Sands by Sarah Beth DurstSummary:

In this epic standalone fantasy, the acclaimed author of the Queens of Renthia series introduces an imaginative new world in which 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.

Review: 4.5 Stars

I really loved this book! I’ve been having a hard time getting into fantasy novels lately, but when I saw all of the amazing reviews that Race the Sands was getting I just had to give it a chance. I wasn’t sure that I even wanted to read a book about monster racing, but I wound up really loving it. This was a fabulous standalone fantasy and I really loved the story and its characters.

I really enjoyed all of the characters, but I especially loved Raia. Her search for a better life was incredibly empowering and I loved how down-to-earth she was. Her character felt so genuine and I really felt like I could empathize with her, she was just easy for me to relate to. Tamra was a character that I related to a bit less, but still loved reading about. She was so stubborn and determined. Even though nothing seemed to be working out she never gave up hope and I really admired that. Sarah Beth Durst created some strong willed female characters that were really easy to connect to. These characters helped make this story so fantastic and really helped me feel emotionally invested in this journey.

I think a big part of what made this book so fantastic was the world building. It was easy to sink into, yet had a lot of elements to it. The politics, religion and reincarnation were each explained well, but without too much detail. Even though Race the Sands was over 500 pages and I’ve been going through a fantasy slump I flew right through this book, which has been a really hard thing for me to do lately. It all came together really well and I just thought that the idea was so fascinating. I was not really excited about the idea of monster racing, but the story wound up being so much more than that and I really just loved the whole thing.

The plot was great. There were several unexpected twists and the way different plot lines came together was truly masterful. I loved the races because those parts of the book just got me so excited. I found myself reading as fast as I could so I could know what happened next. I just really enjoyed this book. I laughed, got angry and rooted for Raia and Tamra every step of the way. I have had a hard time getting excited about reading lately, but I had no issues getting invested in this story.

Overall I’m really impressed. I had only read one other book by Sarah Beth Durst, but now I’m dying to see what else she’s written. This was a fantastic standalone and a wild ride. I was so doubtful about this book but I’m happy to say that I would highly recommend it to fans of fantasy adventure stories.

17 thoughts on “Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst — ARC Review

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  1. Oh man, you are in for a treat! I’ve read like 5 of Durst’s books and loved every one! I definitely recommend the Queens of Renthia especially. It’s so good! It’s a series about queens who control super violent spirits, so it’s similar to Race the Sands! Let me know if you do end up reading them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read a book by her about dragons. Think it was called Fire and Heist? Cant really remember but I didnt love it half as much as I did this book! Queens of Renthia is definitely something I think I could get into. I’m actually reading a book about violent spirits right now called Ghost Wood Song. It’s pretty great, very dark and gothic feeling with beautiful writing and great characters. It was one of those books I got an ARC of just based off of the cover so I’m pleased that I’m loving it so much! Sometimes a pretty cover can lead me astray

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I believe Ghost Wood Song comes out in June or July. So if you read ARCs you might be able to get one. Pretty sure I got it from edelweiss. And now I have to check out Queens of Renthia bc Race the Sands was great

        Liked by 1 person

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