Fireborn, Twelve and the Frozen Forest by Aisling Fowler

Published by Harper Collins, 2021.

Wow! Fireborn is such an incredible book; I absolutely loved it! It’s fast-paced and gripping and I couldn’t put it down. There are some brilliant unexpected twists and loads of cliffhangers. It’s the perfect book to share aloud. I’ve already decided this is going to be the first book I read to my new class in September.

Twelve has given up her birth name and pledged allegiance to the Hunting Lodge where she is in training to become a Hunter – dedicated to protecting the clans and keeping the peace. When the walls of the Hunting Lodge are breached and Seven is taken, Twelve embarks on a quest to rescue her.

Twelve is one of my favourite lead characters in a long time. She’s a bit of an anti-hero and I find that refreshing. She’s a loner, brusque and stand-offish. She’s an exceptional fighter and wields her axes with tremendous skill. None of the other students want to train against her. She is feisty and fearless and, as the story develops, she really comes into her own.

Twelve is joined on her quest by Dog, the stone guardian of the Lodge, and Five and Six – two male students from the Lodge. They are thrown together and would never normally choose each other for company. Initially this results in a lot of tension and friction. As time passes, these relationships evolve. I loved the group’s friendship dynamics; they were authentic and rewarding.

The book also carefully explores themes of guilt, grief and loss. It unpicks these emotions and shows us the repercussions of such powerful feelings.

Another really enjoyable aspect of the book is the brilliant world-building and the powerful magic that’s woven into the story. Fireborn is set in the past, although it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when. There are elements of Twelve’s world that are familiar but much is not, most notably the magic. There are goblins, fire sprites and deathspinner spiders. This isn’t Disney magic though, there’s something dark and sinister at play: talking trees with malicious motives, dream stalker monsters who invade your memories and twist them to trick you. This is magic that’s been corrupted.

I’m hoping that Fireborn is the first in a series as Twelve and her friends are definitely characters I want to spend more time with. I eagerly await their next adventure.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 8+

Thank you to Harper Collins for sending me this book to review. I reviewed the book as part of the Write Reads blog tour.

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