What’s it all about?:
When your blood line awakens, how do you choose between family and freedom?
Émi’s father used to weave beautiful tales of life beyond the wall, but she never knew if they were true. Now, her father is gone and Émi has been banished to the Red Quarter, where she toils to support herself and her mother – obeying the rules, hiding secrets and suffering the cruelties of the council’s ruthless Cadets.
But when Émi turns seventeen, sparks fly – literally. Her blood line surges into life and she realises she has a talent for magick… a talent that could get her killed.
Émi makes her escape, beyond the wall and away from everything she’s ever known. In a world of watchers, elephant riders and sorcery, she must discover the truth about who she really is. But can the new Émi live up to her destiny?
What did I think?:
First of all, a huge thank you to the lovely Faye for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Bewick Press for providing me with a digital copy of this thrilling debut novel in exchange for an honest review. I would not be exaggerating when I tell you that Fire Lines is the most action packed story that I’ve read for a long time. Seriously, at times I was on the edge of my seat not knowing what was going to happen next and with the addition of a magic-based plot, a dastardly villain and a strong female lead it’s the perfect read for anyone who loves their fantasy narratives.
The amazing world that Cara Thurlbourn has created is composed of four different cities and a variety of cultures although when we first meet our heroine Émi, she is ensconced in the land of Nhatu which is surrounded by a gigantic wall, cutting it off from the rest of the world. The city itself is divided into a number of quarters which is associated with social class and after Émi’s father is taken prisoner for an infraction, she and her mother are moved into the lowest quarter, The Red Quarter where food is scarce, their lodgings are decidedly dodgy and they are forced to undergo random inspections without warning. The law makers in this land have made it known that the giant wall is there for protection since the evil Mahg started using black magick for his own detestable means. As a result, anything magical is expressly forbidden and anyone who is seen to possess powers or instruments that could be used for magic is punished in the most brutal manner.
Of course, you might have guessed, our heroine discovers that she does possess some magical know how but has no idea how to control or harness it. When the cruel Cadets discover that Émi might have strange abilities she is forced to flee and for the first time, manages to get over the wall and discover the fantastical new lands she had previously believed to be just myths. This is when Émi discovers who she really is, that she has a twin sister called Ava and that it is imperative that she find her to stop our villain Mahg completing his wicked plans. With the help of her new friends The Watchers, Émi must draw on all her strengths and hone her emerging powers for the inevitable battle that is to come.
I have to say, the world building in this novel was really wonderful. I loved the different lands we saw through Émi’s eyes, particularly the city of Tarynne and the special bond that they developed with their elephant companions. Émi herself was a fantastic, independent female lead although rather reckless and impulsive at times which had me worrying at times what mess she was going to end up in next. I would have loved for the rest of the characters to be a bit more fleshed out – it felt like there was a lot of potential for characters like Garrett, Alyssa and Tsam to have more vibrant personalities, especially Garrett who I adored for reasons that I simply cannot spoil for anyone who wants to read this! As a “baddie,” Mahg was pretty brilliant and very well drawn although I’d love to have known a bit more of his back story and how he came to be as hateful as he is, perhaps this will be explored further in the second novel?
To be honest, the story really came alive for me at the beginning where Émi is stuck under the hideous rules and regulations of Nhatu. At the end of the first chapter, I was captivated by the world which reminded me a lot of a harsh Nazi regime and was at times, quite difficult to read about. When Émi manages to escape, I felt the story lost some of the rich detail that was so exciting to me in the first few chapters although I did appreciate that the narrative had to move on and move on it certainly did – at a startling pace! From then on, the action ramps up considerably and doesn’t let up until the end which provides a tantalising glimpse into the second novel in the series. I think fans of fantasy, strong female characters and exciting/tense sequences will find a lot to enjoy in this story and I’m intrigued to see where things are going to go for Émi after the dramatic finale that the author leaves us with.
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):
Cara Thurlbourn writes children’s and young adult fiction. ‘Fire Lines’ is her first novel and it’s a story she’s been planning since she was fifteen years old. Cara has a degree in English from the University of Nottingham and an MA in Publishing from Oxford Brookes University. She lives in a tiny village in Suffolk and has worked in academic and educational publishing for nearly ten years. Cara blogs about her author journey and in November 2016 she crowdfunded her first children’s book. 10% of its profits are donated to animal rehoming charities. Cara plans to write at least two more books in the Fire Lines series, as well as a young adult mystery series, and has lots more children’s stories waiting in the wings. You can sign up for Cara’s newsletter, for giveaways, updates and latest releases, here: http://www.firelines.co.uk
Thank you once again to Bewick Press for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a great time doing it. Fire Lines is due to be published on 26th September 2017 and is available from all good book retailers now. Why not check out some of the other stops on the tour?
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35581157-fire-lines