Fabulous world-building: ‘Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest’ by Aisling Fowler
November 10, 2021
Opening this book, I was plunged headfirst into the frozen fantasy world of Ember. It’s a land a little reminiscent of Game of Thrones (but much more suitable for younger readers!)
Twelve, the main protagonist, is a ‘Huntling’ – she has taken the Pledge to defend the land and all its Clans against dark creatures and is training at the Lodge, under the watchful eyes of the Elders.
Twelve is a feisty, bright and skilled young heroine who keeps to herself as much as possible because she harbours a secret that, if known, will end her dreams of becoming a fully-fledged Hunter. That doesn’t stop her from getting into altercations with other Huntlings – in this, the trainees are typical of your average human teens.
When another young Huntling is kidnapped by goblins, everything changes for Twelve, as she sets out on a quest to rescue Seven. Soon, she discovers she is not alone, but has been joined by two others, with their own reasons for being on the quest. The three must challenge their long-held assumptions and beliefs, before they can work together to defeat the dark creatures.
The world-building in this, a debut novel for British author Aisling Fowler, is terrific. Some of the creatures the Huntlings must contend with are familiar from classic fantasy stories such as the Lord of the Rings or the Narnia series (goblins, witches, ogres and wolves). But the cast includes ones created by the author, such as Grims, Moxies, Heart Trees, Cliffcrawlers, Snagglefeet and Firesprites: all brought to life with distinctive motivations, personalities and dangers.
The character development of the Huntlings is just as skillfully done. I found myself absorbed in the adventure, hoping that the three Huntlings and their guardian being, Dog, will succeed.
This is a promising beginning to a new fantasy series aimed at middle-grade readers. I’ll be watching out for book number two.
Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest was published by Harper Collins in September 2021. My thanks to the publishers for a review copy.