Today I am delighted to be part of The Write Reads blog tour for Fireborn by Aisling Fowler which will be released 30th September 2021.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review, all views 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.
I’m sure I speak for many people when I say that I saw the cover for Fireborn and it was love at first sight. Yes, you can’t judge a book by its cover – but you can judge a cover, and Fireborn has a stunning cover that promises magic and adventure.
Fireborn more than delivers on that promise.
The world-building was absolutely fantastic, and Fowler draws you into her world right from the very beginning of the book. This is a world that lives and breathes just as surely as the characters that grace the pages of these books, and what a world – there is darkness and danger, which the Lodge and the Hunters stand against as a beacon of light. It was so easy to envisage this world, because the descriptions were so vivid and believable, from life in the Lodge to the environment that the group travel through, to the weird, scary and downright dangerous creatures that inhabit this world. These creatures are the dominant focus of the world-building, with some familiar, and some truly unique creations, and I love how Fowler gives us information about them through descriptions taken from the bestiary used by our main character Twelve. The extracts were fascinating, and I enjoyed how the creaturs were ranked in terms of danger, difficulty and aggression and it was an ingenious way to get the information across without lengthy info-dumps that would take away from the thrill and risk of the encounters with such creatures.
As much as I loved the world – it was the characters that stole the show, especially our protagonist Twelve. I loved her from the beginning, even when her attitude and interactions with others made her difficult to lack. She had steel in her that appealed to me, and as we got to know more about her and what she had lost and sacrificed she continued to grow on me and is absolutely my favourite. We get to see Twelve learn and grow so much throughout Fireborn, both in terms of herself and who she is beneath the prickly exterior she shows the world, but also in her relationships with those around her. What, I especially liked is that for all that she does and faces, and her skill with her axes, she is very much still a child and growing up, with the impulsivity and general attitude that comes with that age.
Twelve was my favourite, but she doesn’t steal the show. Fowling has created a wonderful cast of characters, from the teachers and Elders at the Lodge, to those who join Twelve on her adventure. Plus there are two animal companions who have such wonderfully different personalities and add so much to the story and the group but in very different ways. Widge the squirrel is adorable, and might not be able to communicate in the same way as Dog does, but still manages to get his point across and help in his own way. Dog is fantastic, and you can’t help but feel for him as the ‘designated adult’ trying to ride herd on a group of children, especially one that struggles to get along. Some of the things that he said in response to them had me cracking up, and his personality and attitude bleed through every moment (and I would argue that there are times when he comes close to stealing the show). The other companions, Five and Six, also add interesting dynamics to the group – although Five took a while for me to warm to, because of his attitude and behaviour towards the beginning, but this group and the story would have missed out without him – and I ended up loving both of them.
Fireborn is a middle-grade story with a heart and soul that will appeal to readers of all ages because its themes are those that will resonate regardless of your age. This is a story of friendship and found families – and I loved how that was dealt with here, and honestly putting this particular group together as a family was ingenious and it takes work, but it is all the stronger for that. It also deals with heavier topics including bullying and prejudice, as well as dealing with grief and adversity, and it does them well, without losing the magic of being a fantastical adventure and that takes skill.
Fireborn is a fantastic read, exciting and gripping from start to finish, and I would recommend it to everyone regardless of their age. I know my younger self would have found solace in this story, while I loved it and enjoyed every single part of this story, and I think Fireborn would be an excellent stepping stone for anyone wanting to step into fantasy.
About the Author:
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.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.