Hello, sweet peas!
I’m still here and I’m happy to be part of another blogtour with the WriteReads gang. I was pleasantly surprised by this one.
Thank you to the author for the free arc in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Harper Collins Children UK
PublishDate: 30 September 2021
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Ember is full of monsters.
Twelve gave up her name and identity to train in the art of hunting them–so she says. The truth is much more deadly: she trains to take revenge on those who took her family from her. But when Twelve’s new home is attacked, she’ll find herself on an unexpected journey, where her hidden past is inescapably intertwined with her destiny–and the very fate of her world.
Now that I’m done with this book, I have many feelings about it. I’m trying to organize them and hope it comes not out as a jumbled mess.
I was not sure about this book at first. I have to admit that the cover doesn’t really do it for me and when I started to read, I wasn’t sure what to think about the protagonist, Twelve, either. I didn’t really like her on the first few chapters. I didn’t like her attitude and the air of superiourness she seemed to have. It took me a while to get to know her and to see behind her facade. It was a great experience, if I’m being honest. One of the great themes of this book is loss and the grief that comes with it. Her attitude was simply one of the ways Twelve was dealing with all the bad things that had happened to her in the past and it manfested itself in a one-track mind and a burning rage that does not let her see past it. It was really interesting to unravel all these mysteries, about what happened in Twelve’s past that made her the way she was and what path she is taking in the future. I really liked getting to know her and beginning to like her and to root for her, to feel her heartbreak and anger. Aisling Fowler is really got at conveying emotions.
I was also mighty happy about the other major characters in this book: Five, who was obnoxious and who made it very hard to like him. I think him I liked the least, even though I started to warm up to him, just like Twelve did. I’m curious to see in what trouble he gets next and was happy to discover that he made for a loyal friend. Six, who was calm and kind but had secrets of his own that I was trying to puzzle out. I definitely want to learn more about him in future books, about his origins and past.
Fireborn gives us not only one but two animal sidekicks and when I saw that first, I was a bit sceptical. While I love animal sidekicks I’m also aware that they are often a weak link in a story, not properly developed or used as a plotdevice. Neither is the case in this book. I absolutely adored Dog, the fierce stone guardian of the Hunting lodge who is a bit grumpy and all protective instincts and who I would love to pet so much. (I have to admit, sometimes I had a bit of a problem picturing him, since he was made of stone but still had, for example, heckles that could rise and it made me wonder if him being made of stone was a later addition in the writing process.)
The other animal sidekick would be Widge, Twelve’s squirrel who was just adorable and also brave and needed a lot of snuggles. (Like me. I would probably be Widge.)
There were other characters too but if I go too much into detail now, this review would never see its end.
What I absolutely loved about Fireborn was its world-building. That was really amazing. It was nicely built and kind of woven into the background so you never had the feeling that information was just dumped on you. The descriptions of the surroundings were crystal clear to me and the monsters the group faces were absolutely terrifying.
This book also has amazing action scenes, that I really liked. I think action scenes are always a bit difficult because you can get easily overwhelmed or bored but this book did non of that. I was at the edge of my seat and drank it all in. It was great.
All together I really learned to love this book after a bit of a rocky start. It has strong themes of guilt, loss and grief and an amazing cast of characters that made the read really enjoyable. The enemies-to-friends trope is wonderfully built and was extremely satisfying. The world-bulding was top-notch and I would love to explore this world more, with all its monsters and harsh climates, with its mysteries and the lure of adventure. Fireborn is an amazing book and I can’t wait for the next installment of the series.
Aisling was born in 1985 and wishes that she had grown up in a magical, mountainous kingdom, but was actually raised in Surrey on a diet of books and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her early ‘adventure’ stories involved surprisingly little action and her first novel (3 pages long) was politely declined by publishers at age 11. After earning a BSc in Biology and working as a support worker and then a nurse, the idea for her debut novel, Fireborn, came to her as she moved back and forth between London and the US. Now based in Hackney, when she is not reading or writing, Aisling loves cooking and plotting adventures (for herself as well as her fictional characters). Fireborn will be published by HarperCollins in 2021.