Sunday, August 17, 2008

Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

Enna Burning

Enna Burning
by Shannon Hale

Trade Paperback: 317 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
First Released: 2004

Source: Bought from Amazon

Back Cover Blurb:
Enna's brother, Leifer, has found the secret to an extraordinary power--to make fire without a spark. It's an ability that could be used for good...if he can control it. But Enna can't decide if it's a power she wants for herself or one that should be extinguished forever. And when their home country of Bayern goes to war, the choice becomes unbearable. Enna never imagined the warm, life-giving energy of a fire could destroy everything she loves, but now she must try to save Bayern and herself before fire consumes her entirely.

This book is a sequel to a "fairy tale re-telling" book, but it isn't based on a fairy tale. The story is a bit darker than "The Goose Girl." Everything feels out-of-control and morally murky. For example, Enna must decide whether she should use her fire-talking to kill enemy soldiers (she decides it's not right or smart to do so but does it anyway because she feels she has to). Though the reasons for her actions were convincing, I wasn't comfortable with how often Enna chose to do what she knew was wrong. (Note that she does do what is right in the end.)

The pacing and world-building were good. The characters were engaging and changed realistically throughout the book. The romance in the story develops slowly. There are a few kisses, but no sex. I don't recall any cussing. Overall, I'd recommend this as "a good, clean fun" novel.

Excerpt: Chapter One
Enna let the fire burn out.

She was not used to this duty. For the three years she had lived and worked in the city, the hearth had been the hall mistress's responsibility. And when Enna had returned to the Forest a year ago at the onset of her mother's illness, her mother had continued to tend the fire. After her mother's death in the spring, Enna had become the mistress of this little forest house, but with a garden to tend, wood to chop, and a brother, a goat, and chickens to feed, she often forgot the fire.

It was not hard to do. A fire in a kitchen hearth was a quiet beast.

Of course, Enna thought, she would overlook the coals on a night when her brother and, more important, the flint in the kindling box were out wandering in the deep woods. So she walked to the house of her nearest neighbor, Doda, and borrowed a spade's worth of embers in her milking pail. She struggled home, gripping the hot handle with a rag and the end of her skirt.

The embers drew her eyes. They were beautiful, pulsing red in the bottom of the dark pail like the heart of a living thing. She looked away, and the orange coals stayed before her eyes, burning its image over the night. She tripped on a tree root.

"Ah, ah," she said, trying to regain her balance and keep the hot pail from touching her of spilling to the ground. She cursed herself for the hundredth time that night for being so careless, sought out the dark outline of her house, and headed for it.

"Strange," said Enna, blinking hard to clear her vision. There appeared to be a light in her window, and it was getting brighter. Enna ran through the yard and looked into the open window.


Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?

Genre Reviewer said...

Well, according to most fiction, unicorns are dangerous and difficult to catch, so I doubt you could find one for sale. However, you can probably find one (not necessarily alive, mind you) on eBay.