Title: Fire Keeper’s Daughter
Author: Angline Boulley
Release Date: 16/3/21
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 48
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free eARC copy from ,via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Debut author Angeline Boulley crafts a groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community, for readers of Angie Thomas and Tommy Orange.
As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother.
The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, certain details don’t add up and she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation.
Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, but secretly pursues her own investigation, tracking down the criminals with her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. But the deceptions—and deaths—keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home.
Now, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go to protect her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.
I obviously cannot attest to the representation of the native and first nation communities described in this book but as a reader I really appreciate the incorporation of those cultures and traditions so openly and boldly in the pages. Why do we read if not to learn about those different from us, to experience lives that are not our own be they fantastical or true to life? I appreciate how little pandering these representations do to the reader, they guide us through the culture but don’t explain every little detail, justify every aspect of the traditions. Instead the reader learns about the main characters heritage and culture through her actions, thoughts and feelings. I highly encourage readers to seek out reviews of Indigenous reviewers who can speak more to the representation. We also get pulled into Hocky land as the MC refers to it which is again representation I can’t attest to but was interesting to see from an outside perspective.
I really enjoyed the main character, Daunis. She had a real down to earth feel about her, with a detailed depth to her personality. She had a quiet self-confidence while also displaying those little insecurities we all had at age 18. Wanting to be an adult but also not wanting to make such big decisions. Knowing herself but also questioning who she wants to become, where her loyalties lie and who they make her as a person. It is that complexity that adds so much to this story. There is just so much attention to detail, from Daunis retellings of tribal stories, her connection to her community, her interest in Science, the love she has for her family and the grief she is going through they just build a truly wonderfully layered story.
The plot itself can get a little cliché but in the same way all YA thrillers are and what makes them fun to read. Teens finding themselves in impossible situations trying to save friends, family, loved ones from hurt. It feels almost like reading one of those dark and entertaining cop drama series with all the well timed twists turns and reveals. It has a very nicely crafted version of the fake dating trope which adds a little lightness to the story. speaking of which, it isn’t afraid to get dark which for me makes it a more gripping read. It explores some really dark topics, including addiction, grief, violence against women, without shying away from them. This is a fantastic debut that really draws you in and keeps you hooked. I really really enjoyed this book. I will be treating myself to a physical copy.
My thoughts on the Audio version of this book are a bit torn. While the Narrator is fantastic and really adds life to the story. It is obvious that they possibly struggled with recording during the pandemic. The recording is extremely echoy when reading at standard speed. I usually speed audiobooks up to my natural reading speed (1.5-1.8 depending on narrator) and this did remove some of this artefact. It seems to be that there wasn’t access to a fully baffled booth for recording and that has seeped into the recording that might be annoying for some listeners.