How Rebecca Yarros’ Novels Became a Romantasy Booktok Phenomenon

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It’s been quite some time since the world has seen a pop culture phenomenon like Twilight or Harry Potter, but author Rebecca Yarros’ latest novels are one of the many fantasy series attempting to give those modern classics a run for their money. Fourth Wing, released in May, centers around Violet Sorrengail, a young woman pushed to join a dragon-riding school by her mother—the commanding general at the fictional Basgiath War College—and her journey to find herself by venturing beyond her comfort zone. It features a steamy, enemies-to-lovers romance with Xaden Riorson, the story’s antagonist, a love story initially complicated by the fact that Violet’s mother killed Xaden’s father.

Yarros’ book and its sequel, Iron Flame, out Nov. 7, are among the many helping to popularize the romance-fantasy genre, also called “Romantasy.” The genre, which seems to have gotten its name from TikTok, where the hashtag of the same name currently has over 475 million views, blends the two popular categories in often engaging, world-building novels. Some of the most successful include series like A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, Crowns of Nyaxia by Carissa Broadbent, and Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Blood and Ash books.

The fervor for new entries in popular series is significant: In less than one day, Iron Flame received over 2,000 ratings on GoodReads, currently sitting with a 4.41 rating on the site. More than 391,000 people have marked it as a book they want to read. The hashtags “FourthWing,” “RebeccaYarros,” and other related terms have tallied over one billion views, and “IronFlame” currently has over 83 million views.

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Iron Flame picks up where the first book leaves off. The story’s protagonist will have to put what she learned in War College to the test and show everyone just how powerful she is. Though the book’s reception on the day of release has been rapturous, fans’ fervor to continue reading Violet and Xaden’s story has been apparent for months since the first book found popularity on social media. BookTok, a powerful subsection of book recommenders and reviewers on TikTok, latched onto Yarros’ first novel in what is called the Empyrean series and helped make it a New York Times hardcover bestseller for more than six months in 2023, the Times reported, selling over two million copies globally. 

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It was also announced a week before the sequel’s release that Fourth Wing is being adapted into a television show at Amazon with Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society attached to the project. Yarros, who has written more than 15 books in all, will be a “non-writing executive producer” on the upcoming series. No further details about the project or casting have been made public yet.

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Off the internet, the excitement for Iron Flame was also evident in the more than 200 Barnes & Noble stores across the country that held midnight release parties for the book, including one in New York City, which Yarros attended. Along with the official release parties, independent bookstores held their own celebrations that quickly ran out of tickets.

The enthusiasm for Yarros’ appearance was palpable through the TikToks her fans posted. One posted a video of her arriving and greeting the people waiting in line before the event and the people in line excitedly taking photos with her.

Rebecca Yarros is a literal gem of a human 😭❤️ tonight is about to be AMAZING! Also mother looks INCREDIBLE tonight #fyp #ironflame #ironflamemidnightrelease #rebeccayarros #fourthwing #booktok

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Another video that was posted showed her answering questions during a Q&A with Olympic gymnast and self-proclaimed Yarros fan Laurie Hernandez and the crowd reacting enthusiastically to her answer. In another, the line of fans wrapped all the way around a New York City block.

The sequel marks the second of a planned five-book series, though not much else has been shared about what will come in future installments. No doubt Yarros’ fans will be waiting with bated breath for each one.

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Write to Moises Mendez II at