About the Book
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.
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.
What I Thought
Well. What a ride this book was.
When a book is this good it becomes tricky to write a review but here goes.
I love the magic and adventure of middle grade books and this is a world to get immediately engulfed in. Truly a case of starting In Media Res (in the middle of the action) and learning about the world as we read. There are early hints that Twelve is at the Hunting Lodge under false pretences, and based on unfortunate circumstances, and that is solidified in her position as an outsider, as one set apart from her fellow Huntlings, each named for a number until they pass their training and earn their place and the right to choose a new name. In their pledge they agree to forsake their previous lives in order to serve all seven clans in Ember and fight the monsters that threaten them all.
Of course monsters do not always come with fangs and fur but in all manner of guises, amongst those you know and even within yourself. Flashbacks in nightmares unwind the horror in Twelve’s past, but is her anger directed in the right way?
We have wolves, goblins, witches, talking trees, and new and untold horrors. Beware the deathspinners and The Croke!
But on side of light we have stone guardians and squirrels 🐿 as well as unexpected allies who help Twelve and some of her fellow Huntlings survive through the Frozen Forest way before they were ever meant to enter it. But do they all make it?
Warriors and Clans make this setting an imagined prehistoric world with added magic and myths. This was a truly gripping and pacy read and I loved the relationships between the Huntlings. It’s great when there is some animosity in the team, definitely adds to the tension. Twelve is also an internally conflicted character and her backstory is really quite chilling and it comes back to haunt her. Along the way she learns some lessons and even makes some friends because alone is not the way to win a war and it looks like one is coming.
There were some unexpected twists and turns and some things that I guessed at and it’s the mark of good writing when both are satisfying.
I definitely recommend getting your hands on a first edition because I think this is going to be big – 5,6,7…12 big!
Releases 30th September and will no doubt be the start of the next epic adventure series.
Thanks to Dave at The Write Reads and the publisher (Harper Collins Children) for the gifted copy for the purposes of this honest review. Do check out what everyone else thinks – spoiler, they are all loving it too.
Publishing tomorrow from Bloomsbury – The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis. Here’s my spot on the blog tour.
About the Book
Cordelia and her triplets Rosalind and Giles have lived safely in the castle at the centre of the forest all their lives, protected by the spells their mother has woven. The only time Cordelia feels truly free is when she turns into a dragonfly or a blackbird and can fly beyond the great stone walls. But then one day the outside world comes to them. Two rival dukes and their soldiers have come for the triplets – because whoever is the eldest is the heir to the throne.
But their mother knows that since the Raven Crown was broken, no one has been able to rule the kingdom of Corvenneand live, and she will not give up any of her children to that death sentence. When she refuses to reveal which child is the eldest, she is taken prisoner, and Cordelia and her brother and sister find themselves on the run in a dangerous new world. And as they set out across Corvenne to rescue their mother, Cordelia begins to see that there is a deep magic at work, driving her towards a destiny that could tear her family apart, take away her freedom forever or, just maybe, heal a kingdom devastated by a war that has raged for generations.
About the Author
Stephanie Burgis lives in Wales with her husband, their two sons and their tabby cat, surrounded by mountains and castles. Shewrites fun MG fantasy adventures, most recently the Dragon with a Chocolate Heart trilogy and The Raven Heir.
What I Thought
Coming in at under 250 pages this was a speedy read, and it was a joyful one too.
This honestly gave me Disney classics vibes with echos of Brave and Sword in the Stone. It is brimming with magic, royalty and rivalry and is a tale of what truly makes a family.
Cordelia and her triplets Rosalind and Giles take centre stage for much of the book and the battle against one’s destiny is omnipresent.
I loved the animal shifting magic that Cordelia had and the quiz at the back of the book helps you work out what animal you’d be (a cat for me).
The relationship with their mother is very interesting and I like how it is dealt with and the growing up the characters do away from her.
The ending was slightly bittersweet and although I think it’s final I’d love to read more in this world.
Thanks to Blue from Kaleidoscopic Tours and Bloomsbury for the gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review. Do check out the rest of the tour stops (follow #TheRavenHeir on Twitter or Instagram to find out more).
About the Book
Eleven-year-old Casey is stubbornly friendly, but he’s eternally the new kid at Vintage Woods Middle School. Students look right through him—and they’re not faking. Casey doesn’t know why he’s mostly-invisible, but when he scales a colossal oak, he discovers a fortress in its branches. The forgotten sentry tree marks the border between his safe, suburban life and a fierce frontier.
Casey and his little sister Gloria infiltrate Sylvan Woods, a secret forest society devoted to ancient, wild things. Sky-high footpaths. Survival sewing. Monster control. Shockingly, people here actually see Casey—but being seen isn’t enough. He wants to belong.
Keeping his identity hidden–while struggling to prove he fits–is hard enough, but Butcher Beasts have returned to Sylvan Woods after a hundred years. Trickery is under siege. As the monsters close in, and the fearsome Sylvan Watch hunts Casey down, he and his newfound friends must unearth abandoned magic, buried at the forest’s roots…or be devoured along with everyone else, Sylvans and civilians alike.
A fast-paced middle grade fantasy/adventure book with all the monsters kids could ever hope for.
About the Author
AJ Vanderhorst has had many jobs, including journalist, paramedic, escape artist, and baby whisperer. One time in fifth grade, he built a traffic-stopping fort in a huge oak tree, using only branches and imagination, and slept there for a week.
Now he and his wife live in a woodsy house with their proteges and a ridiculous number of pets, including a turtle with a taste for human toes. This makes AJ an expert on wild, dangerous things—invisibility spells, butcher beasts, hungry kids, you get the idea.
He is the only author in the world who enjoys pickup basketball and enormous bonfires, preferably not at the same time. He and his family have drawn up several blueprints for their future tree castle. Visit AJ online at ajvanderhorst.com.
(Bio via Goodreads)
What I Thought
This was a very interesting book, almost like a cross between The Magic Faraway Tree and Bridge to Terabithia (but without the same level of heartbreak as the latter!).
The tone it sets is surreal and you aren’t always sure if we are in a world of imagination or magic. The Monsters are creepy but the threat level is right for the intended audience.
There was one occasion I wasn’t quite sure if the POV slipped but otherwise we remain along on this wild ride with Casey.
The characters are Alice in Wonderlandesque in their oddity and this would make an amazing cartoon film. I loved the relationship between Casey and his younger sister Gloria and it’s great to see Gloria with some agency too.
The book has a satisfying ending but is open for a sequel and – yay for me – it’s already out. A school is going to be the setting so right up my book nook. We got glimpses of it in this book and I’m certain with AJ Vanderhorst we’ll be in for another thrilling adventure.
This reminds me of the magic of watching The Neverending Story as a child and I liked the slightly unique take on the chosen one trope.
Thanks to Dave at The Write Reads and the author for an e-copy of the book for the purposes of this honest review – just off to buy book 2.