This is how the first paragraph of the blurb for the book reads: Brenna James wants three things for her sixteenth birthday: to find her history notes before the test, to have her mother return from her business trip, and to stop creating fire with her bare hands. This sentence is beautiful in a number of ways. You now know exactly what you’re going to get in the novel from tone to topic.
There are a number of things to love about this book, from world-building to adventure to spiritual lessons. Riding griffins, check, and add to that bonding, telepathy and chiding conversations. Some fun humor, check. A villain with a surprise, check. A “hottie” good guy, check.
Some more things to like about the book: The writing is clean and clear. The setting is interesting. Much of the scenery was beautifully described. The girl has a good heart and in the end will do the right thing. There are interesting twists and turns in the tale. Some of the side characters were a lot of fun. The magic (NOT done by chanting spells) is genetically inborn and enjoyable. The pace of story-telling is satisfying.
The magic (NOT done by chanting spells) is genetically inborn and enjoyable
Three things irritated me about the main character. One: Why wouldn’t she tell the people who needed to know the information she ran across? Okay. Some of the people scared her. I get backing off around scary people. But when the scary people were elsewhere why didn’t she mention what the authorities needed to know? Not giving needed information led her to a number of unwise decisions that the hottie and griffins saved her from. Then I remember in the dim recesses of time that as a teenager I did my fair share of withholding of information. Ahem.
Two: the way she kept insulting the hottie. I don’t know a single man who can retain affection toward a woman who is constantly insulting him, and yet the hottie kept hanging around.
Three: the level of snark far exceeded my level of tolerance. Now, a lot of readers love that kind of spunky sarcasm in a first person, present tense fantasy, and if you’re one of them, this is your book.
Though not exactly part of the story, one of my favorite things about the book was the introductory quote by C. S. Lewis: There are no ordinary people. Certainly nobody in this book was ordinary. I liked the level of talk about the God analog named Elyon in the land of Linneah and how devoted the residents of that land were to him. They wanted to obey Him and use their talents (such as firebrand) for Him.
I recommend this book for all lovers of YA fantasy mixed with sweet romance.
This book will easily become the favorite of a lot of teenage readers as well as some adults. I recommend this book for all lovers of YA fantasy mixed with sweet romance.
Heat: There is kissing and thoughts about the hottie.
Profanity: I don’t recall any.
Violence: There is fantasy violence and magic warfare. There a few monsters. There is even a mother in peril that the daughter must rescue.
Genre: YA fantasy, Portal Fantasy, Fantasy Adventure
Recommended for: Teenagers, especially girls as well as women who like a little romance in their fantasy.