It’s my turn on the Ultimate Blog Tour for this incredible fantasy adventure. Thank you to Dave at The Write Reads for inviting me to take part in this Blog Tour. I was sent a gorgeous proof by the Publisher in exchange for my honest opinion – thank you!
Now THIS is my type of fantasy! A breath-taking epic quest that made my heart sing, ache and race as I was wholeheartedly engrossed from start to finish: dazzling, rich world-building; an incredible cast of characters; and an action-packed, electrifying plot that pulsates with darkness, danger, light and hope.
Twelve has pledged herself to the Hunting Lodge, vowing to serve and protect the seven clans from dark creatures and tyranny, giving up her name and family for this new family of Hunters. When the Lodge is attacked by goblins, and a young girl is taken, Twelve goes in search of her …
As she starts to track the missing girl and her captors, Twelve finds herself joined on her quest by the Lodge’s stone Guardian, Dog and two other huntlings, Five and Six. So begins an exhilarating quest: a quest that sees Twelve and her companions venture to the Frozen Forest where they encounter terrifying dark creatures; where they come to depend on each other for survival; and, where they must battle to overcome the darkness that threatens Ember.
The plot is perfectly paced with a satisfying balance of fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat action and character building and interaction. And oh, my goodness: the suspense, the twists, the secrets, the revelations. Just wow!
The world-building blazes with richness and depth and really immersed me in Ember from the walled Hunting Lodge to the Frozen Forest where huntlings become fully-fledged Hunters. The myriad of dark creatures were breath-taking, and scary, from the cliffcrawlers to the Ygrex to the deathspinner. I also really enjoyed the glimpse into the history of Ember, and the fractious nature of clan relations, which feels like the world is being drawn back into an era of turmoil and unrest. I’m really hoping this aspect will be explored more in any further books.
Whilst I wouldn’t want to meet many of the creatures encountered, there were a couple who did not frighten me at all – well, maybe one, just a little! Widge is Twelve’s endearing, loyal squirrel who is ridiculously cute and offers her comfort when she most needs it. Dog is the stone Guardian of the Hunting Lodge called forth to defend it after the goblin attack. Instead, he finds himself on Twelve’s quest protecting the huntlings, and making good use of his acerbic wit to maintain some sort of order over their bickering.
For me, Twelve is an incredibly sympathetic protagonist. Is she perfect? Absolutely not! Can she be horrible? Definitely! But, my goodness, she is a fierce, fiery and courageous young girl whose past is haunting her, leaving her in turmoil. She feels overwhelming guilt and regret and is hell-bent on avenging her family. The glimpses into Twelve’s past are heart-breaking and emphasise her anger and pain and why she is punishing herself. I was so invested in her as a character and loved the tentative building of friendship, trust and her gradual empowerment and belief that she can take a different path.
Fireborn is a scorcher of an epic fantasy adventure that is perfect for upper middle-grade and beyond. An absolute must-buy!
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.