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by Chloe Neill
pub: Jan 2010
As the new girl at the elite St. Sophia’s boarding school, Lily Parker thinks her classmates are the most monstrous things she’ll have to face…
When Lily’s parents decided to send her away to a fancy boarding school in Chicago, she was shocked. So was St. Sophia’s. Lily’s ultra-rich brat pack classmates think Lily should be the punchline to every joke, and on top of that, she’s hearing strange noises and seeing bizarre things in the shadows of the creepy building.
The only thing keeping her sane is her roommate, Scout, but even Scout’s a little weird—she keeps disappearing late at night and won’t tell Lily where she’s been. But when a prank leaves Lily trapped in the catacombs beneath the school, Lily finds Scout running from a real monster.
Scout’s a member of a splinter group of rebel teens with unique magical talents, who’ve sworn to protect the city against demons, vampires, and Reapers, magic users who’ve been corrupted by their power. And when Lily finds herself in the line of a firespell, Scout tells her the truth about her secret life, even though Lily has no powers of her own—at least none that she’s discovered yet…
Firespell started too slow for me. I thought it spent too much time on Lily getting to school and getting settled. Then we have to meet the typical brat pack of mean girls. Then we go through what the food is like and, blah, blah, blah. That stuff doesn't interest me. I'm an action girl so get on with it!
Let me get this out there. My main complaint about Firespell is that the action started too late in the book. From the synopsis I thought we would be getting to the fighting and supernatural beings much sooner. We didn't. However, when we did it became fun.
Lily's friends are part of this elite group with special powers that they use to fight against other young people who want to use kids with powers for bad stuff. There's a werewolf thrown in but there isn't much about his were-ness in this book. And there weren't a bunch of demons and vampires so I was a bit disappointed about that. I imagine we'll get more of that stuff in the sequel.
The main characters are fantastic. Lily is strong, smart and creative and her reactions to her situations ring true. She is going through an emotional roller coaster between being seemingly abandoned by her parents, finding out they have been lying to her, trying to fit in, finding out she's hanging out with a magical bunch, dealing with magically powered enemies, checking out a little romance, and finding out she's got some powers of her own.
Her best friend Scout is fun, sassy, loyal and sarcastic, and while she is tough dealing with the supernatural punks, she has her own abandonment issues and a vulnerable side. The friendship between her and Lily is wonderful. Not perfect - they have their ups and downs - but real.
The relationships were my favorite part of Firespell. The budding romances were realistic and not the 'fall madly in love and I will die for you at first sight' kind of stuff.
When it gets going, Firespell is a great adventure. The ending is fun and exciting and certainly sets up the sequel. The final pages introduce a new character that should be an interesting addition for the subsequent books.
I enjoyed the characters so much that I will be happy to read the next in the series, Hexbound, coming out January 2011. I wish this one didn't feel like a such a 'set up' book. I would have liked more paranormal and action but it was a good read that I recommend with the caveat that the action takes a while to get started.
If you're willing to stick with it, and lots of folks don't mind a slower start, Firespell delivers a lot of fun and thrills with a dash of romance for spice!
The Cover: Again, I'm never a big fan of seeing a model's face - I like to use my imagination for my characters. But that aside, it's dark and mysterious and overall, I like it.
First Lines: They were gathered around a conference table in a high rise, eight men and women, no one under the age of sixty-five, all of them wealthy beyond measure. And they were here in the middle of Manhattan to decide my fate.
Good. I'm intrigued to find out what a bunch of wealthy old farts decide about her fate.