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Reading, Writing and Being Generally Awesome

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Mortal Fire - Elizabeth Knox 3.5 StarsIt's extremely hard to give this an accurate rating because there are some parts of Mortal Fire that I felt deserved five stars and others than deserved two. Reading this book reminds me of being on a roller coaster. There were times when I was so engaged in the story that it ended up being two am before I could put the book down. Then there were other scenes that almost bored me to tears.Canny is being sent with her step-brother, Sholto, and his girlfriend, Susan, on a research trip. As her Sholto interviews survivors of a mine explosion that killed many from the main town, Canny goes off and explores the tiny valley she comes across. Every nook and cranny seems to hold a magical secret. As she unravels the hidden secrets of the valley and its residents, she also begins to unravel secrets of her past--ones that will change everything she thought she knew.The characters in this book seemed almost… impersonal, I guess is the word I'm looking for. Most scenes felt very sterile because for me, the characters never put forth their emotions. They grew on me over time, but I didn't know what to make of them in the beginning. Canny's curiosity and intelligence, Ghislain's horrific past, Sholto's confusion and Susan's hard-headedness--each of these characters brought something to the table to intrigue the reader and help the book capture hearts. It's weird that I ended up liking these characters as much as I did because I still don't fully understand their growth and backgrounds. The relationship between Canny and Ghislain is a bit bizarre, but I love them together. The relationships between the main characters is one thing that I really liked about this story.The plot on the other hand moved very, very, very slowly. I almost put the book in my "DNF" pile (which is extremely small as I hate not finishing things) because it just seemed to drag on forever. It took too long for minor details to be sorted out--like how Canny has three different names, but the author waited 160 pages to explain why. Maybe if the plot hadn't moved as languidly as it did, the setup that the author had wouldn't have bothered me so much. I'm not sure, but that was just one of my pet peeves within the novel.Mortal Fire is very unusual. From the writing style, to the plot, to the characters, this is so different from mainstream young adult fiction that it some people may find it difficult to read. I must say that I am one of those people. It's not that this is a bad book. In fact, it's very powerful and will evoke a lot of emotion. Even I, someone who was not attached until the last third of the novel, cried towards the end. The author handles the darker themes in a way that will hit its audience in the heart. Ms. Knox plays those grittier parts out wonderfully, but it's getting to those points that gave me a struggle.The writing is very, as my Classical Mythology professor would call it, "flowery." It's detail-oriented, dense and is meant to paint a scene. It succeeded some of the time, but at other points in the story, I would think, "Could you just get to the point already?" There were several times where it just felt like the author was trying too hard to keep up her language. I think that this more "flowery" prose does work well for Mortal Fire though. Had I been prepared and had an idea of what to expect while reading, I believe that I would've enjoyed the book a lot more.The ending of this novel leaves some room for a sequel, which I'm sure many, including myself, would appreciate. Mortal Fire and I had a very rocky start, but a second book would be high on my list of to-reads. The last third of this book was when it really got good for me and I couldn't put the book down. That's when all the real action occurred, the romance bloomed and the mystery started to unravel. The story gets so intense, and strange that it's absolutely addicting to read as it all unfolds. I must hand it to the author, this is a unique tale that will leave readers wanting more! It's definitely worth a shot reading. Many of my friends adored this book, and many more fans will join them. I plan to give the book a reread in the near future and see if my outlook changes now that I know what to expect. I will also definitely be trying out more of this author's work!This review can be seen on my blog as well.I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review.