We Are the Fire by Sam Taylor
Swoon Reads; 2020; 416 pages
Content Warnings: Murder (burning alive), fire, moderately strong language, death of a loved one, graphic descriptions, violence, syringes and injections
About the Author: “Sam Taylor grew up in Arizona’s desert and now lives among Connecticut’s trees. She writes fantasy novels for teenagers, and magic is always at the heart of her stories. (What world isn’t better with a bit of magic?) For her writing, Sam has won the Tassy Walden Award for New Voices in Children’s Literature and twice received the Young Adult Romance Writers of America Rosemary Award. She’s worked as a proofreader, copywriter, and instructor of university writing courses before deciding to write her own books. We Are the Fire is her debut novel. When she’s not writing, Sam spends her time 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.” (Bio taken from the author’s website.)
After being stolen by the brutal Vesimaan empire as children, Oksana and Pran are forced to undergo a terrifying transformation into fire-wielding soldiers. Both are desperate to protect one another and keep their relationship a secret from those who would surely use it against them. So when fellow soldiers start acting strangely and dangerous schemes come to light, no cost is too great for Pran in the fight against tyranny, even if Oksana has different plans in mind. Difficult choices lie ahead, and threaten to drive them apart, as they realize that freedom is not so easily won in a land where cruelty reigns. With overwhelming odds against them, the spark they light in search of a future together may just consume everything in its path…even themselves.
Morally grey protagonists and dangerous magic abound in Sam Taylor’s thrilling debut We Are the Fire. Set in an expansive fantasy world, this book kept us reading until the early hours of the morning, eager to find out what happened next. Alternating between the perspectives of Oksana and Pran, readers are propelled through an intense fire-fight for freedom à la An Ember in the Ashes. With a smoldering romance and characters that leap off the page, this book is a fiery new addition to the young adult fantasy world. As the two protagonists find themselves winding down an ever-darkening path, themes of home, fierce friendship, and fighting for a better tomorrow shine through as crackling embers of hope. We Are the Fire is perfect for those who enjoy detailed world-building, lovers at odds, and heart-wrenching twists.
(Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change.)
PRR Assistant Directors, Hannah Miller and Wendy Waltrip