Serena’s Review: “A Fire Endless”

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Book: “A Fire Endless” by Rebecca Ross

Publishing Info: Harper Voyager, December 2022

Where Did I Get this Book: Edelweiss+

Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat

Book Description: East and West. Humans and Spirits. Breccans and Tamerlaines. The Isle of Cadence has always held itself and its residents in a tenuous balance. But now Bane, the spirit of the North Wind, has pushed everyone and everything in his path off-kilter in a bid to claim dominion over all.

In the West, Adaira struggles to adjust to the more brutal, bitter ways of life among the Breccans. Striving to find her place in the clan, she swiftly realizes that it just might be the last role she desires to hold. And while magic blooms effortlessly for the Breccans in the west, the spirits continue to suffer beneath Bane’s harsh power, felt in every gust of wind.

In the East, Jack is adrift without Adaira until he sings to the ember-weak fire spirits, acquiring a dangerous mission he never expected. One that is destined to lead him westward. Likewise, Torin and Sidra are consumed by a new mystery as sickness spreads first amongst the crops, and then to the people of the Tamerlaine clan. While Sidra desperately searches for a cure, Torin dares to strike a bargain with the spirits—a precarious folly anytime, but especially now as the days grow darker.

With the island falling further out of balance, humans and spirits alike will need to join together to face Bane, and Jack’s gift with the harp will be called upon once more. Yet no one can challenge the North Wind without paying a terrible price, and the sacrifice required this time may be more than Jack, Adaira, Torin, and Sidra can bear to pay.

Previously Reviewed: “A River Enchanted”

Review: I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed “A River Enchanted” last year. Not being overly familiar with the author or super blown away by the fairly standard-sounding description, I found myself blazing through it in only a few days, gobbling up everything it had to offer. That being the case, the second book was facing the much more challenging task of now living up to the expectations set in the first one. Not to mention, December, for some reason, is always the slowest time of the year for fantasy title releases, so any book that comes out this month has to carry a lot of weight as one of my few new release reads of the month!

Not only is the land divided, with the Tamerlaines suffering from low magical but a plentiful land and the Breccans just the opposite, plenty of magic but harsh living conditions, but Adaira and the bard, Jack, find themselves, too, separated shortly after their marriage. For her part, Adaira must try to find a place for herself alongside a family she never knew and in a land she barely understands. And Jack stumbles upon a mystery that may require a sacrifice greater than he ever could have suspected. As they work to heal the land, they uncover a long hidden history that may be the key to it all.

I really enjoyed this sequel. Having largely resolved the two main romances in the first book, this story takes on themes of reimaging how one sees oneself in the world. All four of our main characters must grapple with this question in certain ways when their primary role is shaken out from beneath them. Adaira’s is obviously the most extreme seeing her relocated to an entirely new land that comes hand-in-hand with an entirely new family who has different views on ruling and leadership. Adaira’s journey is one of grappling with two versions of herself and finding a way forward that calls upon the strengths she already possessed while drawing forth new, unknown wells of strength. Jack’s journey is, perhaps, a bit more straightforward, but his choices and the mysteries around the magical power of music serve an ever growing role in the story.

This story also travels beyond the limits of the material world, with various peeks into the moving pieces in the land of spirits. Again, as the story progresses, we get more and more information on the history behind the powerful king and his influence over the other spirits. This story is definitely a slower tale, with much of the focus being on these inner character arcs and how those overlap the mystery of the Breccans and the Tamerlaines. Towards the middle, the action does pick up some more, which I found to be a bit of relief, as their was potential for things to drag with Jack and Adaira separated for too long and too many mysteries layered on top of each other.

I also really enjoyed the exploration of the relationship between parents and their grown children. Both Adaira and Jack are thrust into a situation where they are meeting parents they never knew before. With that comes a very different relationship than one built from infancy. For Adaira’s part, she must grapple with finding a place for the family she few up and loved dearly but who passed away, and this new family she never knew and barely understands, but who are now here and wanting her to be one of them. These questions were all handled in a very real-feeling way, with understanding of both the joys that can be found there but also the very real challenges and pitfalls.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Both this one and its predecessor are by no means action-packed stories, so they are largely going to appeal to readers who enjoy atmospheric stories that emphasize the inner journeys of the characters. Those who enjoyed the first book should definitely check this one out, as I think its a worthy conclusion of what turned out to be a very solid fantasy duology.

Rating 8: Centering around themes of family and self-discovery, this was a perfect conclusion to an excellent fantasy duology.

Reader’s Advisory:

“A Fire Endless” isn’t on any Goodreads yet, but it should be on Original Stories . . . a Breath of Fresh Air.

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