Author: Karsten Knight
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):
“Every flame begins with a spark.
Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.”
Thoughts: Wildefire is a new entry into the young adult paranormal genre, and a welcome entry it is. As a refreshing change from vampires, werewolves, fairies, and other otherworldly creatures, Mr. Knight introduces her readers to gods and goddesses. The added bonus is that they are not from one mythology but cross all mythologies – from Norse to Polynesian to Egyptian and so many more. This in itself is extremely fascinating and deserves more attention than it received.
That is not to say that the rest of the novel outside of the gods and goddesses is poor. Rather, Mr. Knight keeps the reader’s interest through Ash and the blurring of the lines between good and bad. Ash is one strong female. She is not perfect; in fact, she has one nasty temper. Yet, her struggles to control her temper and separate herself from her sister is endearing, not that endearing is a term one could use to describe Ash. Rather, her flaws make her more sympathetic, in spite of her prickly exterior.
The story itself felt much like a stand-alone novel, even though it is not. In fact, it is not until the end of the novel where the reader realizes that there are still many outstanding questions. The questions left unanswered are intriguing and pique the reader’s interest in future stories, while Wildefire‘s main storyline ends in a fairly satisfactory way, without the huge, jarring cliffhanger that is so typical in series.
Wildefire is not without its flaws. I, for one, wish there was more explanations regarding the various gods and goddesses mentioned, so that the reader had a better understanding of what their stories, and powers, entail. Still, it is a satisfying addition to YA. Gone are the angsty, somewhat week female heroine and the mysterious, brooding gorgeous love interest. Instead, we are given Ash, a heroine who does not need a man to complete her and who has enough spark and verve to be never be considered angst-ridden. Wildefire is sure to delight fans of paranormal YA, both young and old.
Thank you to Lucille Rettino of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for my review copy!