Early Review | Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst

Race the SandsRace the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst
Harper Voyage | April 21, 2020

About the Book:

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.


First of all, how stunning is that cover? That lion, the colors… As bloggers I feel like we see a lot of covers, and most of the time I scroll right past them. So many are repeat styles and stock images. Not this one. I was immediately intrigued. Good job, whoever designed the cover of this book.

The second take away I got from reading Race the Sands was realizing how 30 years didn’t much change the core of who I am.

Can you guess what these two books have in common?

One of these books was my childhood obsession. I was addicted to the series, and the movie. The other is a book I just finished that catapulted itself to the top of my favorite Fantasy books.

Both of them are about racing.

Both of them contain an untameable animal.

Both take place in a dessert atmosphere.

Whatever childhood essence that felt such a rush of excitement reading about The Black, and his rider Alec, still exists in this older and more jaded woman I’ve become. I was entranced by the story of Tamra, Raia and the Black Lion. I loved it so much I’m not feeling a hangover. I’m in a literal biblio-coma. I cannot stop thinking about it.


If I had known who the author was before I requested this book, I wouldn’t have. I’m thankful I didn’t realize I’d read one of her previous books because Sarah Beth Durst has really grown in her craft. I will forever remember this author when talking about whether or not we shouldn’t judge authors based on previous reads.

Yes, it all started with the racing, and the animals, and the sand. However, Race the Sands was more than that. It had a fantastic, full, cast of characters that I loved, in addition to political intrigue. It is epic fantasy at its best, with fabulous lore and a well executed world. It also had plot that was almost philosophical. The story questioned morality, and the idea of a higher power.

I’m deadly serious about how good Race the Sands is. If you love Fantasy, either adult or YA, this book is for you. It’s both. It’s neither. It is bloody fantastic!

5 exhilarating stars!!

Thank you to Harper Voyage and NetGalley, for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

About Birdie

Don’t look for her in any bar, club, crazy raging party, or anywhere there may be a large gathering of strangers. She’s more likely to be found tucked into the corner of the couch watching one of her favorite shows, or preferably under a comforter with her current novel.

7 Responses

  1. This looks and sounds SO good! I’m getting Scorpio Races, Black Stallion vibes for sure. Great review! I’ll keep an eye out for this one. Glad you enjoyed it! 😀


      1. Oh wow! I’ve definitely got to give this one a shot then. Scorpio Races is one of my favorite books. I’d love to see how this one matches up 😀


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