“Be, my daughter—my, not our. There's a reason for that.”
Let me first say there are a lot of things I loved about this book. The story follows Evonalé, a young girl forced to deal with a sadistic family, a haunting faery godmother, a petulant Prince, and fulfillment of prophecy. The quote above is Evonalé telling the meaning of her name, one of the many intriguing details that kept me reading to the end and made me ultimately recommend: go ahead and read it; you know you want to.
My review is divided into two parts; the first half of the novel which I had difficulty relating to (and felt needed more elaboration/detail) and the last half where Wolanski really hits her stride and I fell in love.
I felt that the first half of the book needed more plot elaboration, more background, and more detail. I felt misplaced—I wanted a solid anchor of where I was: place, time, etc., and the truth (or non-truth) behind Evonalé’s prophecy. For a long time I thought the idea of the prophecy weakened the book. It wasn’t until the ending where I saw what the author had been striving towards that I really bought into it and thought it quite unique. I felt that the author had a good grasp on the creation of her other-world but didn’t quite convey that to the reader—until the second half.
I give the first half of the book a 3 rating; I found it hard to become invested in the book and I wasn’t sure what the main conflict was.
I give the last half of the book a solid 5. I loved the ending, down to the last line, and just wish more of the details divulged here were mentioned sooner. There was a lot of drama and scandal created with Evonalé’s half-sister Carling and half-brother Drake, and these two characters introduce darker undertones that nicely contrast the silliness/clumsiness that often accompanied Evonalé’s castle life. Once again, I just wish I knew more about them sooner—I could only imagine what trouble/mayhem these two could cause.
On a side note, towards the end of the book there is a dance scene, a month after Evonalé turns sixteen, that I absolutely loved. It was this scene that ultimately won me over.
My biggest worry with this book was that if I wasn’t reviewing it, I would have given up on it before I got to the second half and would have missed a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable story.
I recommend A Fistful of Fire for anyone looking for a YA fantasy with a bit more grit to it (there are some darker themes) and looking for a new take on the boy-girl romance that generally accompanies YA. The beginning may be hard to work through, but fear not, it comes together beautifully in the end.
Reviewed Sift at http://siftbookreviews.blogspot.com/