Today is my turn on the Ultimate Blog Tour for Fireborn organised by WritesBook Tours and I’ve got to say, It’s incredible.
Twelve is a feisty ball of grit & fierce isolation, she has sworn allegiance to the Hunters to be trained as a warrior for all lands, yet holds a dark secret.
But when a young girl is stolen from the supposedly unbreachable Hunters’ Lodge, Twelve embarks upon a quest with the Guardian and regrettably some tag-alongs, that will change everything she knows and feels about the Hunters, her peers, the society around them and her past.
It’s a perfect upper middle grade tale- it walks just to the edge of safe space holding your hand but does have character death- but is equally gritty and epic enough to appeal to teens and young adults alike.
Imagine the depths and thrust of YA High Fantasy with a feminist post-modern perspective of a flawed girl who makes mistake after mistakes but wishes to be more than the wreck of a person she is, and indeed she is wrecked by her own memories and survivor guilt. Now add the hope and colour of middle grade, where everything doesn’t always turn out perfect but there is an awakening of the self and a change, building friendship and finding one’s colours to nail to the mast.
Twelve COULD have been an atypical Katniss/Tris trope, the ‘separate’ from others with a natural gift for fighting and surviving, whilst alluding to a ‘chosen one’ narrative, she is a flawed girl who actively rejects the friendship of others not simply is excluded, punishes herself for mistakes to the point of self destructive and her fighting abilities are from hard work and dutiful training. Her role in this quest seems accidental or opportunistic at first, but is actually her dark night of the soul that will reveal the power within her, and how we can all rise from the ashes of trauma and sadness if we do not give in to the dark.
Aisling’s writing sucks you in, one minute you are thinking ok just another chapter, the next you are closing the book blinking bleary eyed in the early hours because you just couldn’t stop.
I adored the dynamics between Twelve, Five and Six; the latter two being best friends and Five being Twelve’s personal tormentor. The journey that they go through and the building of shaky wary trust and camaraderie that is tender and precarious in the face of hard truths is real and resonant but again, hopeful. Hopeful that we can change, that we can find our fellow Hunting clans, even those that might surprise and challenge us.
The world building is rich and deep and thought given to the wider characters, from speech syntax implying accent or dialect to the dark creativity applied to the monsters and mayhem of this deeply magical world. We quickly are immersed and believe in this world of trolls, goblins, magic, betrayal and grit.
It’s a world I am hungry to return to, a world I need to find out what will happen next, just who is behind the great betrayal and what other malicious untruths shall be discovered.
Fireborn by Aisling Fowler is published by Harper Collins Childrens Books