Book Review: Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox

Sixteen-year-old Canny Mochrie's parents go away on a vacation, so they send her off on a trip of her own with her step-brother Sholto and his opinionated girlfriend Susan, who are interviewing the survivors of a strange coal mine disaster and researching local folklore in 1959 Southland, New Zealand. Canny is left to herself to wander in a mysterious and enchanting nearby valley, occupied almost entirely by children who all have the last name Zarene and can perform a special type of magic that tells things how to be stronger and better than they already are. With the help of a seventeen-year-old boy who is held hostage in a hidden away house by a spell that is now more powerful than the people who first placed it, Canny figures out why she, too, can use this special magic that only Zarenes should know, and where she really came from. Printz Honor author Elizabeth Knox has created another stunning world of intrigue in Mortal Fire.

Release Date: June 11, 2013
Age Group: YA (12-17)
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed by: Madi B

I was so excited about this book! The summary on the back of the book was attention grabbing so I dove right in! It took a while to get the ball 100 pages into the book. Let me just say that if another teenager picked this up, if it didn't grab their attention in the first few pages, then so long, book! For me, I know when a book is good when I zone out and I tune out the world. But after those bland and uninteresting hundred pages, I started zoning out! Yay for Mortal Fire!

I liked the author's fresh perspective on certain things, like how Canny liked math...not English! (All authors like English because hello they're authors! So naturally not only do their characters LIKE English, they're kick-butt-awesome-sauce at it! Yes, I just made that word up. And yes it can be used as a verb, adjective, and basically any other sentence part!) I did not like Canny's name. Her real name is Agnes, but people call her Canny? I realize authors like to name their characters weird names because their own name probably isn't that cool but CANNY? Every time she spoke, I just imagine a tin can speaking! And poor girl! Can you imagine how many rhymes can be made out of her name? 

Okay, on to more important opinions. I also didn't like Canny's lover boy. I don't know how to spell his name... here's my best guess, G-H-I-L-JSHDFLJVJKS. So from here on out his name is lover boy.  In the book, they were talking about how Leroy, who is around 50, is lover boy's brother. That’s what made me go “wait, if Leroy is lover boy’s brother…then how old is lover boy? I was doing the math in math class, (Ha. Ha.) And here's what I came up with. If the whole book takes place in 1959 and he was 17 during the mine explosion in 1929, that makes him...47!!! WEEEEOOO WEEEEOOO My creep-o-meter is going BANANAS!!! Who cares if he is look likes a 17 year old; on the inside HE'S 47!!!! Talk about pedophile! And then she kept lying and sneaking off to be with him??? Every alarm system inside of me was going BEEP and WEEEEOOO! My head was a very loud place to be in at that moment.

Although Canny has a lover boy that's 47, the magic stuff that was going on, TOTAL kick-butt-awesome-sauce! I'm now sending a request to Merriam-Webster saying "kick-butt-awesome-sauce" should be added to all their dictionaries. Around the last third of the book, things started getting REALLY weird. Something crazy would happen and then the characters would just shrug it off and keep moving. Then it would happen again! I would be thinking "Wait what! Well it must not be THAT important" and then I move on. Near the end, a total crap-load of crazy stuff started happening, all my questions started piling up. I was this close to calling the author and saying, "Explain NOW!" Then Canny explained the last 4 pages. The pace of the book was way off! I was confused a lot of the time and then Elizabeth Knox takes all the answers to my questions and shoves them in my face all at once! But hey, if you’re the “all the answers all at once” type of guy/gal, this is the book for you!

Overall I liked Mortal Fire. It may have seemed like all my comments were negative but there were some really great parts in the book. Nevertheless, I would not read the book again. 


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