Author: Aisling Fowler
Release Date: 30/9/2021
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 36
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free ARC copy from HarperCollins ,via The Write reads in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Lyra. Lucy. Percy. Once in a generation, a hero emerges whose story enthralls readers worldwide.
Fireborn is an epic quest, perfect for fans of the His Dark Materials and The School for Good and Evil series, that will spin readers into a magical world like no other–and introduce them to an unforgettable new heroine named Twelve.
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.
This is definitely going to be a series for lovers of worldbuilding. The worldbuilding is what really stood out to me. I feel we only got a glimpse at some of the fun and interesting areas this book could go. From the complex clan system, the function of the hunters, the lore of all the beasts and the forest that they live in, the various magic systems there was just so much detail. I feel we barely got to scratch the surface on all of these aspects and I really wanted to learn more and more about each element. They really painted a picture of an interesting and magical world that also seemed dark and dangerous yet full of adventure. The worldbuilding alone definitely has me wanting more stories from this world.
I enjoyed the characters too. Twelve was an interesting main character, angry, hurt, resilient and strong but also humble. I do wish we had got a little more insight into the boys, Five and Six, as a feel the conflicts and friendships between the huntlings were not fully explained. I am however always a sucker for animal companions, especially sassy ones and this book treated us to two. Dog was great. The authority and care, acting as guide and protector as well as our Huntling’s access to the Lore of the land they were exploring was such a fun character. While Widge had an almost classic Disney-esque quality as a non-verbal animal companion ( I know he was a squirrel but I could help imagining a chipmunk like Chip ‘n’ Dale) .
The Plot had a few ups and downs for me. I loved the sense of adventure and the twist at the end was fantastic, but there were a few slower moments that just seemed a little out of place. There was a scene with a giant spider that was reminiscent of the hobbit but lacked the drama for me. It seemed very obvious a way to shoehorn in a character so that major changes could be made in a very very short space of time in order for the twist to happen. I almost wonder if a lot of the journey/adventure was cut out to get the book down to size as the pace change was very abrupt to me.
I have some mixed feelings about the writing style. I loved that it didn’t shy away for the anger Twelve felt over the lose of her family. We got to experience her survivors guilt, her grief and her anger in very subtle ways. These were done really well. However, there were also moments when I felt the narration talked down to the reader a little and read more like the classic middle grades than more modern stories where the authors don’t shy away from putting more complex language and themes in front of their middle grade readers. It made it read a little younger than the 8-12 age range this is aimed at which was a little disappointing, However these moments were few and far between and didn’t distract too much from how fun the plot was and how strong the worldbuilding is. And again that twist in the end was one I just couldn’t see coming so was a great surprise.
Overall I enjoyed this book. It was a fun read and is sure to be a fun series. However, the blurb does make some strong claims and Twelve just wasn’t quite a Lyra or a Lucy for me personally but I can see someone loving her just as much. It was fun and interesting and I really liked the way it resolved so overall I think it is a good read.