It isn’t often that I find YA paranormal that is actually set in the contemporary world, so I was excited to see The Secret Fire didn’t linger in the past or seek refuge in an alternate or parallel universe. It is firmly set in modern day England and France, which means we get mini skirts and motorcycles mixed in with the magic. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up appreciating it as much as I had anticipated, but I think there is a good chance that other readers will, particularly those in the YA demographic.
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?
The Secret Fire wasn’t a great reading experience for me – I wasn’t particularly invested, and I drifted away from it several times to read other things, but I don’t think my experience will necessarily be yours. There is a lot of action, especially once the setting and characters are established. There is an engaging premise based on a curse made generations before the story begins. There is a secret battle going on between good and evil forces that sweeps up the two main characters. There is magic and there is mystery. I think I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I absolutely think there is an audience for this book. Taylor is an average girl who excels at schoolwork. She is pleasantly surprised to find herself dating the hottest guy in school and those strange electric fluctuations surely have nothing to do with her. She is a bit of a Pollyanna, erring on the side of perfection, but I think most YA readers will like her well enough. Sasha is an image of a bad boy but with all the chivalry a girl could want. He is a bit of a stereotype, but he has the better character arc, and I think he will be appealing to teen girls. The inciting incident – a class assignment that comes across as too awkward and contrived- and the pacing of Taylor and Sasha’s relationship- it dragged on for me but still felt underdeveloped- are the two things I can clearly identify as a problem for me as a reader. I don’t necessarily think they will be an issue for you. If you enjoy paranormal YA in a contemporary setting, you might just find this book really grabs you.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.