Thursday, 10 September 2015

Review: The Secret Fire by C J Daugherty & Carina Rozenfeld

Publication Date: September 10th 2015
Publisher: Atom
Length: 424 pages

Thanks to Midas PR/Atom Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

French teen Sacha Winters can't die. He can throw himself off a roof, be stabbed, even shot, and he will always survive. Until the day when history and ancient enmities dictate that he must die. Worse still, his death will trigger something awful. Something deadly. And that day is closing in.
Taylor Montclair is a normal English girl, hanging out with her friends and studying for exams, until she starts shorting out the lights with her brain. She’s also the only person on earth who can save Sacha.
There’s only one problem: the two of them have never met. They live hundreds of miles apart and powerful forces will stop at nothing to keep them apart.
They have eight weeks to find each other.
Will they survive long enough to save the world?

I was so excited about this book for numerous reasons – the blurb, the fact that half of the book was set in France, magic, the tag line ‘the clock starts now’. Everything had conspired to make me unbelievably excited about starting this book.
Now maybe I shouldn’t have read this one straight after ‘Queen of Shadows’ (because the book hangover from that book is intense) and maybe I should have waited for a period of time when I was slightly less stressed in real life, because whilst I started off excited to read this book, that quickly evaporated.
The start of this book is glacially slow. Yes ok, the opening scene is intense but it is flawed in that the logic we’re given for why this opening has come about makes no sense. After that initial shock factor opening though, everything slows right down. Nothing happens. We’re treated to over wordy explanations of every detail in our two main characters lives. I found the writing style incredibly hard to get on with because every tiny little detail was put in. Turning door handles, walking through doors, shutting doors, admiring the clutter (in detail) on the other side. It all conspired to drag the story right down, so yes ok I was whipping through the book quickly, but I wasn’t interested in anything that was happening.
Things only start to pick up around the 240 page mark (which considering this is a 424 page book is more than a little alarming) when things finally start to happen. But even then they’re bogged down by too much mundanity, there isn’t enough to keep the reader really interested. I mean sure, I was reading, I was curious, but I wasn’t ‘OMG I MUST KNOW ALL’, which is probably more a reflection on my reaction to my previous read than anything else.
Then we end up with an ending which just left me looking at the back cover of my book and going ‘that’s it? That’s the end? That’s the entirety of this book? After all that extraneous detail and uninteresting plot moments and mushy insta-love and endless descriptions of how Taylor takes her tea, that is how this finishes?!’ It just felt anti-climactic. It was a much more interesting end compared to the rest of the book and the action really does pick up and I am curious now about the second book, but it felt like such a let-down to be stuck with so much extraneous goop in the first half and then have one big fight and then –END SCENE. Maybe I was just in a terrible mood, but I was left feeling decidedly non-plussed.
Of the two characters Taylor definitely has more to her, despite Sacha’s super powers I was left feeling bored by every one of his sections. There was nothing to him, nothing to make him stand out and make me take notice that this was a new YA hero to be reckoned with. Then there were the secondary characters who don’t stand out at all and felt a bit like a prop to pad out the novel.
Good points, despite my gripes, there were some. As I’ve said the second half does pick up and we do have quite an intriguing final section with some intense action moments. I love the magic and I am really interested to find out more about it because it felt like the surface was barely scratched.
There were a lot of frustrations, a lot of boredom, but as I’ve said I think this had a lot to do with me and what I’d just finished reading. I’m going to shelve this one and pick it up again before the next book in the series comes out and give it another go.
I think this is going to be one that a lot of people do fall in love with. It has the added intrigue of being set in both England and France (yay for more diverse settings in YA!) an interesting new set of big bads and magics and looks set to be a good series. However, be warned that the first half is glacially slow and if, like me, you’re not quite in the right frame of mind, you may not hit it off.

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