Today is my stop on the blog tour for Sam Taylor's new young adult fantasy book. Thank you to Giselle from Xpresso Book Tours and the publisher (Swoon Reads) for the review copy.
We Are the Fire
by Sam Taylor
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: February 16th 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
As electrifying as it is heartbreaking, Sam Taylor’s explosive fantasy debut We Are the Fire is perfect for fans of An Ember in the Ashes and the legend of Spartacus.
In the cold, treacherous land of Vesimaa, children are stolen from their families by a cruel emperor, forced to undergo a horrific transformative procedure, and serve in the army as magical fire-wielding soldiers. Pran and Oksana―both taken from their homeland at a young age―only have each other to hold onto in this heartless place.
Pran dreams of one day rebelling against their oppressors and destroying the empire; Oksana only dreams of returning home and creating a peaceful life for them both.
When they discover the emperor has a new, more terrible mission than ever for their kind, Pran and Oksana vow to escape his tyranny once and for all. But their methods and ideals differ drastically, driving a wedge between them. Worse still, they both soon find that the only way to defeat the monsters that subjugated them may be to become monsters themselves.
Amazon / B&N / iBooks / Kobo
Sam Taylor's debut novel is set in a fictional country of Vesimaa. While the previous ruler was a successful military leader and managed to conquer a lot of neighbouring lands, turning Vesimaa into a powerful empire, not least thanks to his formidable army of monstrous flame throwers, known as Tullikobrets. The most horrifying thing about them is that they are all stolen from their families (mostly from the conquered parts, but also Vesimaa itself) and tortured with poisonous serums and deadly chemicals until they undergo a transformation that turns them into ruthless fire-breathers.
The protagonists of the book Pran and Oksana were born in different lands, but they are also best friends (and more)- they have spent seven years trying to survive the poisons, the training and other horrors of their camp and there's nothing they won't do to help each other. They know who their enemy is -the bloodthirsty emperor who hasn't distinguished himself on the battlefield, but is desperate to prove he can enlarge his empire and the cruel Commanders, but this doesn't mean Oksana and Pran will always agree or see the things in the same way. Rebellion appears to be the only way, and rebel they will, it's how that will make or break them....
When I started reading the book I was immediately reminded of the Janissary corps in the Ottoman Empire. Originally, it was made up of children who were kidnapped or bought on the numerous slave markets and given a rigorous military training that turned them into elite soldiers of the most feared kind. Sam Taylor describes the longing little Tuliihave for their homes and their families, but also shows that it's not all that simple. When one of Pran and Oxana's friends, a Vesimaa girl by origin, tries to warn her family of an impending punitive raid, she is not believed or trusted any more. This is just an illustration to the dilemmas and motivations of the main characters.
Overall, it felt like this debut novel might be enjoyed more by younger teens. I generally love fantasy books with elemental magic and all the twists that come from the power of controlling something as strong and powerful as fire. My favourite lines from this book are 'Not everything that comes from fire is terrible and ugly' and I have to agree. Just look at this cover. Gorgeous, isn't it?
Sam Taylor grew up in Arizona’s deserts and now lives among Connecticut’s trees. She spends her days writing, being mom to the world’s cutest boys, whirling through dance workouts, and baking too many cakes. She does not possess fire magic, but does have one fire-colored cat. We Are the Fire is her debut novel.
Tour-wide giveaway (INT)
If you would like to find out what other bloggers thought of the book, you can check out the goodreads link and also the full blog tour schedule which is updated every day with new links:
–Jazzy Book Reviews >> Interview
–Chain of Novels >> Excerpt
–Debjani’s Thoughts >> Review
–The Writer’s Alley >> Review
–Cosmic Lattes and Books >> Review
–The Scribe Owl >> Review
–Betwixt The Sheets >> Review
–Living in a Bookworld >> Excerpt
–Movies, Shows, & Books >> Guest post
–Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile >> Review
–Whispering Pages >> Review
–Reading Tonic >> Review
–Books, Tea, Healthy Me >> Interview
–S.J. Lem >> Review
–Lindsey’s Library >> Review
–Viviana MacKade >> Guest post
–Sadie’s Spotlight >> Excerpt
–a bolt out of the book >> Review
–Literary Gold >> Excerpt
–A Book Addict’s Bookshelves >> Guest post
–Books Over Everything >> Review
–Cranky The Book Curmudgeon >> Review
–DEEKAY | Daily Dose of Reading >> Review
–Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author >> Excerpt
–The Avid Reader >> Review