A fiery girl. A grumpy dormouse. Prepare for a magical adventure!
Twelve-year-old Hazel Hooper has spent her whole life trapped in a magical Glade created by her mother, Hecate. She’s desperate to meet new people and find out about the world. And, more than anything, she wants to be a witch. But when her mother is kidnapped by a demon – everything changes . . .
Suddenly Hazel is alone in the world. Well . . . not quite alone. For it turns out that Hazel does have magic – she’s just not very good at controlling it. And she may have accidentally created a grumpy familiar in the form of a dormouse called Bramley.
Determined to rescue her mother, the young witch and her mouse set out to track down the demon and find Hecate. However, it turns out that life outside the Glade is far more dangerous than Hazel ever could have imagined. Witch Hunters are everywhere – and the witches are using demons to fight back!
Luckily for Hazel she manages to enlist the help of a handsome boy called David, and his drunken master, Titus White, who are expert demon hunters.
Source: ARC from Macmillan Children’s Books via NetGalley
I have to admit I’m not always the biggest fan of historical fiction books for children, mostly because the historical aspect tends to be loose at best. I also often find witch hunts a bit depressing. However, I made an exception for this one because of one word – dormouse.
She has a dormouse familiar! I am always here for that.
Aside from the dormouse this is a story of witches and demons, friends and enemies and a very unfriendly society into which stumbles a young girl trying to rescue her mother. Hazel is a seemingly ordinary twelve-year-old, who has been secluded away from the world all her life. She wants to get out, she wants to explore, and she is resentful of her mother for keeping her prisoner. Until her mother’s not there anymore, leaving Hazel with her newfound magic and her sort-of friend, Bramley the dormouse.
I was never quite sure if I liked Hazel or not. She’s clearly very brave, but this book is very dialogue heavy without really including what she’s feeling at any given moment. Fear and being afraid is mentioned a lot, but I need more in order to feel like I really know a character. Considering she’s out in the world for the first time, Hazel does quite well and seems to know a lot (unless it’s convenient for her not to), and to be honest I didn’t really believe this was a girl who’d only ever known two other people in her life.
The story itself unfolds nicely, steadily increasing the danger and the action as it goes along, making this a quick, compelling read that is never boring. It also likes to deal in grey areas, making enemies out of people from either side of the old Witch War, and likewise creating friends. It’s pretty dark at times, even if the worst moments happen off screen, and any child with a vivid imagination will likely conjure up some pretty nasty horrors thanks to those demons.
So overall this is an okay read, with plenty of dialogue and action to keep it flowing. If, like me, you prefer characters you can get to know and really like, this might not be for you, but if you want something fast-paced and a bit dark, then you should try this. As for that dormouse, well, after a shaky start he definitely did live up to his promise. If anything could tempt me to come back for part two, it would be him.
Fire Girl is out August 13th!
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