Twelve & the Frozen Forest
An extraordinary new Middle Grade fantasy series is blazing onto bookshelves this autumn. This is such an assured debut – Aisling Fowler’s stunning world building of an imagined prehistoric land by the name of Ember is so meticulous – Fireborn is perfect for fans of the Wolf-bother series, with elements reminiscent of The Hobbit and Game of Thrones.
Imagine snow-laden pine forests, icy mountain ranges where dark creatures lurk in their hundreds. Beware; bloodthirsty cliffcrawlers, caver creepers, deadly dreamstalkers and Goblins in their hundreds lurk around every corner.
Rival clans, fight to the death and our protagonist, Twelve who is very handy with an axe (or two!) gives us a masterclass in weaponary and mortal combat.
I pledge my life to the Hunting Lodge.
I vow to serve all seven clans as my own. To protect them from what lies beyond.
I forsake all blood ties and blood feuds.
Fearsome heroine,Twelve has spoken the Pledge and now she is a Huntling. All huntlings are required to give up their names, as anonymity prevents feuding from the past between clans from resurfacing. No huntling should speak of their life before the Lodge. At the Hunting Lodge Twelve trains in the art of fighting mythical monsters and keeping the peace – she won’t get to choose a new Hunter name until she has earned it by passing a treacherous initiation known as a ‘Blooding’ in the Frozen Forest, a place of monsters and legends, where Hunters earned their names or died trying.
Haunted by the nightmares of of her past, Twelve cannot escape the memories of her family, brutally murdered by the cave clan in a blood feud. She has to search for the fire deep within her and throughout the story she is reminded to think about the person she want to be. Hell-bent on avenging her family’s deaths, Twelve is consumed by anger and bitterness. She finds it hard to relate to her fellow huntlings and although an accomplished fighter, her mentors are concerned that she would be unable to work as a team on the battlefield.
But when the Lodge’s walls are breached by Goblins for the first time in hundreds of years, and a little girl is taken, Twelve is the only one interested in going after the child in the face of mortal danger. Teaming up with ‘Dog,’ the magical Stone Guardian of the Lodge and her trusty squirrel Widge, loner Twelve ends up on an epic quest that will change her life, her name – and her entire world forever.
Just when you think Twelve is to be a lone-warrior, she is joined by two of her peers, Five and Six who have also fled the carnage at the Lodge. Twelve is thoroughly dismayed, irritated and appalled by their presence and the three huntlings, joined by dog argue and bicker their way through the most mortal of danger. The fractious four-some’s quarrelsome interactions provide humorous light relief.
Twelve learns alot about herself on the epic journey. It’s a very personal journey for her of growth, letting go and forgiveness and we see some of the hard edges of her persona gradually smoothed away and her warm (slightly) to her counterparts.
Treacherous traitors, trickery magic, betrayal and pulse-pounding battle scenes – all in a richly drawn setting. Fireborn is a highly original and immersive read.
The final page of this monumental quest leaves you absolutely needing a sequel! It’s promising start to a series which could become a formidable saga. I so hope we don’t have to wait too long to arm ourselves to the teeth, don our warmest furs and return to Ember to our band of unlikely heroes once again.
Fireborn: Twelve & the Frozen Forest is published by Harper Collins Children’s Books and is out on the 30th September.
With thanks to Tina Morries and the Write Reads Tours for providing me with a proof of this wonderful book and inviting me to be part of the tour.