Review: Heart of Night and Fire by Nisha J. Tuli


For years, Zarya has been trapped in a gilded prison. Her magic is forbidden, a dangerous secret—though nobody will explain why. Now she is ready to break free and find the truth.

Escaping to the dazzling city of Dharati, Zarya discovers a new world of enchantment and intrigue. With the help of seductive, blood-drinking rakshasa and magic-weaving Aazheri sorcerers, she searches for answers.

But the city is under siege. Every night, dark creatures attack. And since Zarya’s arrival they are growing stronger. To protect her new home, Zarya joins the fight.

As she battles on the walls and hunts through libraries for clues about her gifts, Zarya’s dreams are haunted by a mysterious stranger. Powerful, arrogant and handsome, Rabin sees through her secrets and ignites a desire she cannot resist. But can he be trusted?

When darkness threatens to overwhelm Dharati, Zarya is faced with a deadly choice. Will revealing her magic save the city? Or destroy everything she loves?


Heart of Night and Fire by Nisha J. Tuli is a good start to a very promising new adult fantasy series. Within a captivating fantasy world inspired by South Asian mythology, Nisha masterfully crafted a beautiful narrative abundant in thrilling action filled with suspense and mystery, and a steamy infusion of romance, resulting in a thoughtfully crafted tale. Being a Sri Lankan American yearning to hold on to my South Asian heritage, I found immense delight in the rich tapestry of the world filled with South Asian mythical beings that Nisha meticulously constructed within the pages of Heart of Night and Fire.

However, to express my honest perspective, I must admit my dissatisfaction with the initial portion of the book. It was a complete let down compared to the second half of the book with it’s sloppy plot execution. Striving to avoid divulging any plot details, I felt the sequence of events that brought Zarya and Aarav to Dharati lacked a compelling rationale, and the narrative seemed riddled with more inconsistencies than I had anticipated. In the first half of the story, Zarya’s portrayal struck me as lacking depth, marked by immaturity, and an undue naivety, which seemed incongruous for a twenty year old. Furthermore, her persistent longing for physical intimacy, even in perilous circumstances, considerably detracted from my engagement with the narrative.

Although the first half of the book was dissatisfactory the second half of the book was beautifully executed, it almost felt as though I was reading an entirely different book. The meticulous crafting of the world’s structure and the seamless progression of the narrative revealed a masterful touch in the second half of the book. The plot reverberated with suspense, and the depiction of action sequences exuded a remarkably eloquent flair.

Unfortunately, I found that the characters, particularly in the initial half of the book, were notably deficient in emotional complexity and meaningful attributes. Zarya, Vikram, Yassen, Rabin, and even Aarav seemed to lack profound dimension, rendering it notably challenging to establish any form of emotional resonance with them. While Nisha expended considerable effort elaborating on the physical attractiveness of both Vikram and Yassen, she unfortunately omitted imbuing them with distinct personalities and I felt as though there was actually no base for the attraction between Vikram and Zarya. However I must admit, I am extremely intrigued by Rabin’s character and what will unfold between him and Zarya in the sequels.

While it did require a significant passage of time, I’m genuinely appreciative that Nisha, in the second half of the book, succeeded in rectifying much of what was lacking in the earlier half. The glimpses into the characters’ identities provided a measure of redemption. Some may posit that this was an endeavor to highlight character development. However, personally, I find that the process of acquainting myself with these multi-dimensional individuals, each with their own distinct narratives, attributes, and imperfections, took longer than my preferences would have dictated.

Zarya’s likability remains uncertain to me, as I struggled to forge an emotional bond with her character. On the contrary, I genuinely relished Yassen’s presence and the evolution of her camaraderie with both him and Princess Amrita. This dynamic offered a significant dose of essential female companionship within the narrative, which I found highly enjoyable.

All in all, from my individual perspective, Heart of Night and Fire presented a blend of positive and negative aspects. Although the initial half of the book left me dissatisfied, I take solace in the fact that the latter portion managed to compensate for those shortcomings. The surge of action-packed sequences in the second half left an indelible impression and left me yearning for more, also offering a tantalizing preview of what might unfold in the upcoming sequels.

My sincere thanks to Netgalley, Second Sky books and Nisha J. Tuli for providing me this advance reader copy.


Book Cover

Scroll to Top