Title: Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest
Author: Aisling Fowler
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Published: 26th September 2021
Synopsis: Set in the snowy northern forests of an imagined prehistoric world, Fireborn is the middle-grade debut of the decade. At turns exciting, funny and heart wrenchingly sad, it marks the introduction of an unstoppable new voice in children’s storytelling. Twelve has spoken the Pledge and now she is a Huntling. She has given up her name to train in the art of fighting monsters and keeping the peace, and she won’t get to choose a new one until she has earned it.
But when the Lodge’s walls are breached for the first time, and a little girl is taken, Twelve is the only one interested in going after a child . . .
Teaming up with Dog, the Stone Guardian of the Lodge, Twelve ends up on an epic adventure that will change her life, her name – and her entire world.
Twelve is one of the Pledges, now a Huntling, training to keep the peace and protect her home from monsters. Like the rest of the Huntlings and Pledges, she won’t get her new name until she has earned it. To do so, Twelve must defend the Lodge, and rescue a missing girl – and she’s the only one willing to do so.
Twelve teams up with Dog, the Stone Guardian of the Lodge to find the missing girl – but more than that. She will change her life, her name and her world – but will it be all for the better?
The debut novel from Aisling Fowler introduces us to a new fantasy world, and new characters to fall in love with, and a rollicking story filled with adventure, magic and fantasy, a talking dog, and building a family from those you know, those you see as friends, rather than just the family you are born into. Twelve’s journey is at times lonely, yet she will have the backing of her fellow Pledges and Huntlings as they do everything they can to save the missing girl, and save the Lodge from the threats and invasion that have come to threaten everything they know and care about.
The diverse cast of characters brings the fantasy world to life, and allows readers to imagine themselves in this world. Whilst this book is aimed at, and marketed towards a middle grade audience, young adult readers and even those beyond these readerships, might enjoy this book and find things in there that they enioy. As with many books aimed at younger readers, there are always layers that different readerships and different age groups will appreciate at different levels, and different ways of understanding the world – and books that we can all get something out of are powerful, fun and full of everything good about reading and books.
The story is complex, yet middle grade readers aged nine and older will enjoy this and find themselves wanting to run away to this new, dangerous and vibrant world – an imagined prehistoric world, where magic rules and where tribes and various groups of humans are trying to take control – and ensure their tribe has all the power – which is where the Pledges and Huntlings come into play. Fantasy adventures are common in middle grade, and this new take on the genre is exciting and fun.
Fireborn is the first in a trilogy – and much like one of her predecessors, Lyra, Twelve is sure to capture imaginations and make readers fall in love with her. She’s brae and confident, but also has her flaws that allow her to grow and emerge as the person she is going to be alongside the other Pledges and Huntlings, focused on finding their names and identities, which appears to be leading to something bigger in the next two books and the destiny of the world of these characters.