“…But when fire suddenly obeys her every command and her dreams predict the future…”
Her Crown of Fire
by Renee April
My breath catches.
There’s still no pain.
Renee April, Her Crown of Fire
In the dull, everyday world, seventeen-year-old Rose Evermore struggles to plan beyond her final year of high school. But when fire suddenly obeys her every command and her dreams predict the future, she becomes hungry for more of this strange power.
Under her dreams’ guidance, Rose lands in the fantasy realm of Lotheria–with a tagalong. Tyson, her best friend since childhood, winds up there with her, just as confused and a hell of a lot more vulnerable. In Lotheria, Rose is welcomed and celebrated as a fire mage at the Academy, while the very un-magical Tyson is forced into hiding under threat of death from the headmasters of Rose’s new school.
As Rose’s talent in fire magic draws unwanted attention and Tyson struggles to transition from high school student to blacksmith, Rose must find a way to return Tyson to their own world before the headmasters discover and execute him–no matter the cost.
The best way to describe Renee April’s Her Crown of Fire is as a cross between Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, and if that isn’t enough to convince you to give it a read, I don’t know what is.
Fire’s protagonist Rose is an Australian high schooler who – after a series of disturbing dreams – finds that she can bend fire to her will. Soon after she discovers her abilities, Rose is drawn to a nearby river which whisks her – and her non-magical best friend Tyson – to a fantasy world. There, she must attend a school for mages to learn how to control her abilities, while Tyson must hide away lest he be found out.
If that sounds like a fun, fanciful adventure, it isn’t. Unlike the fantastical world of Hogwarts, the world of Her Crown of Fire is more akin to Westeros – a harsh, medieval realm locked in the grip of a dark age sense of control and justice. Instead of being coddled and mentored, Rose is thrust headfirst into a fight for her day-today survival while learning about her abilities and – occasionally – trying to get back home.
Renee April manages to foster a constant sense of danger and keeps the reader on their toes, since there’s never a guarantee all of her characters will survive or escape unscathed. All of this escalates as Rose finds herself drawn into local politics and class struggles against the system she has been forced into. April’s world is lushly and darkly drawn with a supporting cast whose intents and morals are murky and grey. There is never a morally unimpeachable answer to any of the problems Rose is faced with, which makes the book all the better.
If there are any downsides to Her Crown of Fire, it’s that I wish that there were more aspects of the world that were developed. The full year of curriculum at the mage school is never described in detail, and we’re thrown into it just as Rose has been. However, we don’t see Rose adjust to her harsh new world, as she seems to easily slip into the day-to-day within a chapter or two.
I would’ve liked to see how she adapted, as she’s said to be a gamer and perhaps being shown how that helps her blend into the world might have been more satisfying. Additionally, there are some relationship aspects – particularly the concept of magical soulmates – that could use some elaboration, especially when it comes to Rose and her soulmate, whom she avoids for most of the book, which feels like unrealized potential.
But all of those complaints boil down to me wishing that the book was longer, which, at around 400 pages, might bloat an already clean and satisfying storyline. Plus, this is set to be a series, so hopefully there will be more fantastic worldbuilding when His Crown of Embers releases in 2022.
At the end of the day, Her Crown of Fire is a darkly mature, tense YA fantasy that is more than worthy of being added to your TBR list.
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Purchased this for my personal library.
G.M. Nair is a crazy man who should never be taken seriously.
Possessing both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering has enabled him to masquerade as an intelligent, functioning member of society. If he approaches you to talk about cosmology or the state of the American Space program, try to appear as large as possible and make loud screeching sounds until he flees.
Mr. Nair writes and draws as a hobby and as an attempt to pay off the legal settlements he has incurred for beating up small children as “payback”. In a statement released by his lawyer, Mr. Nair asserts that “they know what they did.”
He is part of a New York City-based sketch group and can be seen writing and acting on their monthly sketch show “Clip Show”. He has also written for the History Channel’s Join Or Die with Craig Ferguson. He also curates the blog Make Mom Marvel.
Mr. Nair currently resides in a state of ignorant bliss.