I received a free copy of Tempered by Fire from author H.E. Birss so I could review her debut novel. I was a bit nervous as the day that I would receive the novel neared because I didn’t know what to expect. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed.
Birss introduces us to a magical, and rather dangerous, world full of multi-dimensional characters who mimic real teenagers, rather than just making them in the likeness of perfection (as so many Young Adult authors tend to do in order to make their readers love the male/female protagonist). While some of the characters are very attractive, the personalities are all diverse and entertaining (especially the protagonist’s cynicism).
“Like most girls her age, all Hailey Catherwood wanted to do was get out of high school alive. However, thanks to an interloping fairy, that might not even be an option anymore… Unlike most girls her age, Hailey has the Sight - the ability to see into the fairie realm. When a hot-headed Fire Sprite shows up and tricks her into one months servitude, her life is suddenly overrun with blue-skinned kelpies, sabre-toothed monsters, and monocle-wearing squirrels. An evil fairy queen further complicates matters, pushing Hailey into a magical mess as she is forced into a quest that she’ll, regrettably enough, never be able to forget.”
While I loved the story, there was just one issue that I found in this novel, which I admit I was warned about, but I am always honest in my reviews.
1. The editing. I know that Birss wrote and published her novel rather quickly, but I am a bit of a stickler for editing. Whereas all of you who read her novel in the future will probably skim over such occurrences in the story, I make note of this so that future readers who do determine their experience on issues like editing can go in and try not to focus on the errors, but on the magical story. I would hope, however, that this becomes less of an issue in the next two installments in the series, since I think that this story has a lot of potential for being a hit with young readers.
1. Very fast paced!
2. I liked that Hailey, the protagonist, thought for herself. She didn’t let the guy decide what she was doing. It’s rare to see female characters rely so little on male characters, so this was refreshing. Also, her attitude was reminiscent of Kody Keplinger’s protagonist in The Duff, which kicked ass.
3. The budding romance wasn’t your typical, “Oh, you’re hot, I want you, I need you,” a la Twilight, but it was stormy and resistent. Even though (SPOILER) the characters slowly fall for each other, they don’t relinquish the way they are, which is a fresh way to look at relationships in young adult novels.
4. The descriptions of the creatures in the magical world that Birss has created are wicked. To give you a hint: There are flying noses AND a hot blue guy.
5. The adventure. I can’t be the only one who wishes that my sometimes dull, monotonous life could be turned into a whirlwind of fun, danger, and romance. That’s exactly what Birss offers in her novel, and honestly, isn’t reading a type of escape? Why not escape into a magical world like the one created in this novel?
This was definitely an entertaining read, even with its flaws. I’ve seen debut novels before with the same editing errors that made me stop reading them. Why did I abandon those and not this one? Easy. This one had a compelling plot-line that was not hindered by the editing. This is the type of rare debut novel that is fantastic as it is, but could be phenomenal as the series grows. I’m excited to read the sequel and I hope for the best of luck to the new writer in our midst!
I give H.E. Birss’s novel Tempered by Fire:
Check out her blog here.
Buy the book here.