WARNING: Spoilers ahead
UK Publication date: Thursday 10th September 2015
Disclaimer: I had received this book via Netgalley, with the approval of Little, Brown Book Group UK, in exchange of an honest review.
Taylor Montclair is a studious 17 year old girl from England who is keen on getting into Oxford University. She is encouraged to tutor the darkly mysterious Parisian boy, Sacha Winters. Since birth, Sacha has been doomed by a curse where every first born son in the Winters family is to die on his eighteenth birthday. If this was to happen, his death will fulfil an ancient destiny that could unleash chaos and catastrophe. It is only Taylor who can prevent the curse from being fulfilled, and deadly forces will stop at nothing to keep them apart. They have eight weeks to find each other and unravel the ancient web of mystery and danger. With the clock ticking, time is running out and they need to work fast.
Written by C J Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld, The Secret Fire is a darkly compelling novel that will make you thirsty for more. Although it is intriguing, I did not get sucked into the story until halfway through, but that did little to prevent my bubbling curiosity. The Secret Fire still managed to grab my attention thanks to the air of mystery that surrounds Sacha and Taylor’s mysterious headaches. I had questions (why? how? who?) and I was determined to find out the answers. I began to feel my excitement building up as the story progressed.
The story is told from their perspectives as they fight to unravel the mystery behind the ancient curse that entwines their destinies together. Sacha and Taylor provide balance between the normal and mysterious, until Taylor gets a taste of the dark side. Sacha spices things up, he is a mystery to be solved, while Taylor tries to give us a sense of normality with her average teenage girl life. As she becomes more and more aware of her part, that balance is lost as we find ourselves submerged deeper and deeper into the dark depths of the mystery.
At first, there really is nothing more to Taylor; she is just the ‘goody two shoes’ who does what her mother tells her. At the beginning you feel as if Taylor is just an ordinary who gets pulled into adventure by Sacha and eventually a love story might follow. Taylors normal life does make that maybe there is something more to her; she could be hiding something from us because she’s never rebelled and she is too sensible. Then she gets in touch with Sacha, her polar opposite. The two work well together in contrast despite how different they are from one another
As the story progresses they seem to have a slight role reversal as Taylor starts to come out of her shell, and Sacha begins to care more about his future, with a determination to find a way to break the curse. When Taylor finds out about her role, homework and school is not mentioned so much. Instead, homework becomes an excuse when she is learning to fight, and finding out the answers to her questions. It seems like Sacha brings out the best in Taylor, challenging her and getting her to take a walk on the wild side.
Taylor begins to morph into a strong female character. This creates a perfect contrast between the studious girl, and the girl with strong powers who is trying to find a way to prevent the catastrophe that will take place if the curse is fulfilled. Taylor has a more active role in the story; learning to fight, learning to use her powers, and then eventually getting to use her powers against some antagonists. On the other hand, Sacha turns his attention to his father’s research material, and running from the dark practitioners side-kicks known as bringers. At this point Sacha almost takes the back seat in the action.
There were some aspects of Taylor that reminded me of Mare Barrow from Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen. Both are ordinary girls who discover they have extraordinary powers. Both are discovering more about their abilities and learning how to use them, and both are trying to discover who they really are and their place in the world.
It is obvious that a romantic relationship could potentially form between them. As Taylor already had a boyfriend, I was expecting a love triangle to form, or for her to realise she doesn’t feel the same way she used to for her boyfriend. Regardless of their growing feelings for one another, the spotlight is kept on the romance as little as possible. The focus is on their discoveries, and the journey of self-realisation – finding out who they, their purpose and understanding their mission to save the world.
Daugherty and Rozenfeld use a historical moment in time which many may or may not be familiar. The power which Taylor possesses is not unknown either. What makes The Secret Fire even more chilling is the fact that the authors have used existing places as some of the settings (Paris and Oxford). Daugherty and Rozenfeld have masterfully combined the history of witch hunting with alchemy, making The Secret Fire darkly compelling, and this was what made the story a lot more interesting.
Want to give The Secret Fire a read? Get your copy from Waterstones. The Secret Fire will be released on Thursday 10th September.