You might not see much middle-grade on the blog, but I certainly read some. Fireborn Twelve and the Frozen Forest by Aisling Fowler is a book that I have been incredibly excited about. I’ve been lucky enough to get on the blog tour for it with Write Reads Tours.
Fireborn follows a young girl called Twelve who has been training within the Hunting Lodge to become a Hunter. She doesn’t get along with her fellow huntlings, but she knows she’s one of the best. So when the lodge’s walls are breached and one of the girls is taken, she knows she has to go track her down herself.
This was a very fun adventure story. Twelve isn’t the perfect character. She makes it clear from the off that she doesn’t really want anything to do with the others. She’s rude and angry, and sometimes you do roll your eyes at her. But as you read the story and learn more about her, you begin to feel for her. Even in the beginning, Twelve does try to help people and clearly has a good side. She just doesn’t want to get close to people for reasons you find out.
There was also some queer rep in this book that I didn’t expect. One of the side characters is gay. He is unfortunately outed by a magical creature, which is kind of sad. But I really didn’t expect it. I look forward to seeing him learn about himself in the later books. I think we need more queer rep in genre middle-grade as this is when some kids are starting to figure themselves out. And it’s nice if it’s represented.
I was a big fan of all the characters. The giant stone dog you see on the cover is the Guardian of the Lodge, who asks them to call him Dog. He’s great. He’s grumpy but sweet, and I kind of wanted to cuddle him. Even if that wouldn’t be comfortable. Widge the squirrel was just as adorable. I’m a big fan of animal companions in books for this age range as they really do tend to be perfect. The other human kids were great too. Perfect? Again, no. There were lies and fights and issues. But all of them helped each other grow, and that was good to see.
This book does have an emotional impact, and it does deal partially with grief. You feel it very heavily with Twelve, and I felt for her so much. She’s so young, and she’s been through a lot. Is the loss of a family a common plot device? Yes, but Fowling handles it so well. You feel just what you’re supposed to, and it brings something to the plot.
There were also some twists that I didn’t see coming. So I was happy to be kept guessing, even if the book itself didn’t take me long to get through.
This was a fun book and definitely a series I look forward to continuing.
Title: Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest
Author: Aisling Fowler
Age Range: 8-12
Publisher: Harper Collins Childrens
Release Date: 30/09/21