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Review: Wildefire

Wildefire by Karsten Knight will be released in the U.S. on July 26, 2011 in hardcover and eBook formats. It is currently available to pre-order online in both formats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Published by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, the print edition is 400 pages.

Wildefire is one of the books that can be chosen for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi at TheStorySiren.com and is one of my original twelve picks.

Goodreads description:

Every flame begins with a spark.

Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life.

When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned.

Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own.

With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

***

Ashline Wilde hoped that by leaving home and moving all the way across the country to attend Blackwood Academy would finally rid her of the memories of the destruction left in her sister Evelyn’s wake. But fleeing her home didn’t mean escaping her dreams.

Months later and she was still struggling with her guilt in the part that she had played. Guilt that turned her dreams into nightmares as she replayed the incident that transformed her sister Eve from a troubled teen into a wanted criminal.

Life at Blackwood was a definite improvement over Scarsdale High School. Even if the change of scenery hadn’t affected her fiery temper, just knowing she was far away from any reminders of her past and hidden away from whatever it was her sister had become made her feel much better.

But when an off-campus night of fun leads to the discovery that not everyone at Blackwood was as they seemed, and that they were in fact immortal gods and goddesses, her hopes to finish out her year quietly and without incident were shattered.

And when she learns that she, too, is a goddess and that her choice to attend Blackwood may not have been as random as she thought, Ash doesn’t think things could get much worse. She was wrong.

With the sudden appearance of strange lights in the woods surrounding Blackwood and the return of her vengeful sister, things turn deadly, not only for her, but for everyone unlucky enough to get in Eve’s way.

Unless Ash can figure out how to access her powers and confront her sister once and for all, she is at risk to lose everything, including her immortality.

***

Wildefire is an absolute powerhouse of a debut book. The story is unique, the writing is outstanding, the action is intense, there is sarcasm and humor aplenty, and an ending that will cut you off at the knees.

This book is more than just a modern day twist on mythological gods and goddesses. Not only do they encompass a broad range of cultures and ethnicities, their histories and abilities offer a refreshing change from many of the stories in this same genre.

Ashline Wilde is an amazingly strong female main character and one that doesn’t fit into the mold of the typical teenage heroine in these stories. She comes from such a diverse background – a young Polynesian girl who, along with her sister, Evelyn, was adopted and raised by a well-to-do Jewish family in New York.

She is more than ready to fight for what’s hers, but also knows right from wrong and is willing to back down if that’s the best course of action. She is tough but very likable, and while she may never be a damsel in distress, she is one that readers will root for.

Wildefire takes readers in a completely new direction with its approach to this genre, but still retains all of the elements that make this kind of story so addicting. There are immortals, fierce battles, hidden agendas, secrets, enemies, shocking surprises and a jaw-dropping cliffhanger ending.

Karsten Knight is a phenomenal writer who has taken a risk and pushed the boundaries with his debut book. He gives readers a heroine who defies societal norms but who stands out as rather exceptional. He ups the level of violence, but not just for the shock value or in a way that is out of character for these immortal gods and goddesses.

And with writing that has such fluidity interspersed with humor, he invites readers into this story and dares them to become ensnared.

Wildefire is truly one-of-a-kind and an absolute must read first book in this new series.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=6] Like In-N-Out Burger‘s infamous secret menu this one deserves my off-the-menu 6 star rating.

On a personal note:

I was completely blown away by Wildefire. And not because a certain storm goddess sent up a huge gust of wind to knock me over. But because the author’s writing is extraordinary. I had not the first clue it would be that good.

I knew I would love Wildefire. I had read the first line which made me completely desperate to read it, but thought I’d love it for very different reasons.

(That first line, by the way, is: Asheline Wilde was a human mood ring. That’s the kind of intro that gets me hooked right from the start. Wildefire had me at hello.)

I thought it would be a really fun, action-packed and humorous read. And it was all that, but that isn’t even the half of it. Wildefire packs a punch, and I mean, literally – those gods and goddesses are supremely kick-a**.

It had everything I expected – the action, the humor and the sarcasm. But it was the writing that took this over the top. And that ending. Oh, that ending. It shocked me, it knocked me down, I recovered and then it delivered the final blow with that last line.

I always go into books written by male authors slightly skeptical about how they will handle writing for a female main character. Even the best usually have just one small thing that just doesn’t feel believable. But the author handled this brilliantly and nothing felt out of character for a heroine like Ashline.

Ashline is definitely not your typical female main. She knows her mind, she’s tough, determined and willing to fight back. She doesn’t show weakness or have that soft, vulnerable side that always seems to be lurking under the strongest of female heroines. She is not impenetrable, however. She does have an Achilles heel, and that is her sister, Eve. But Ashline is quick to get over it.

The story itself has so much more going for it than just a bunch of modern day mythological gods and goddesses hanging out at a boarding school, breaking the rules and causing trouble. They are not your normal teens and don’t bother pretending to act like frail and helpless beings. They have a history and some really wicked powers.

There are a ton of unanswered questions and a number of doors left wide open for the sequel. I’m already dying to have all my questions answered and the first book isn’t even out yet.

I got so caught up in this story that I cursed the baddies, squinted while reading some of the battle scenes, and laughed out loud at some of the colorful descriptions the author used throughout this book.

I love Ashline. She is the super sarcastic heroine that has been missing from all the books I’ve read. And I’ve read sarcastic, but she takes those one-liners to a whole new level.

This is unequivocally the most unique paranormal story I’ve read. It does not follow any of those set patterns of a girl stumbling into an unknown world and having to fight to suspend disbelief of all that she uncovers. There is no stumbling here.

Wildefire definitely follows its own, amazing path that leads to a holy bleep ending. I should have seen it coming. I thought I sort of sensed something, but I was completely lulled into a hugely false sense of comfort before being clotheslined at the end.

I am so excited for this new series and I can’t imagine what’s coming up next. This author is definitely one to follow and I am so glad that this book not only did not disappoint, but blew my mind.

There are so many favorite lines in this book, but here are just a couple to show you just what a broad spectrum of writing this author has.

But then, like a zombie tentacle rising from a dark bog, his free hand slipped underneath the bottom of her polo again…

So accurately and vividly descriptive, yet so hysterically funny.

“Somehow, one night, at a bar filled with retirees and old fisherman, in a town that might as well be off the map, he sees a girl sitting at the bar. Even though she’s only twisting idly in her bar stool ordering a drink, that’s all it takes for him to recognize that she might be the fire he’s been looking for. In that moment he realizes that he could spend the rest of his life doing all the things he ever wanted to do in all the places he ever wanted to see, but if he doesn’t ask her for her name, this is the moment that, forty years from now, he’ll still remember as the moment when he blew it.”

What a freaking fantastic passage. It’s perfect. It feels so believable that a guy could actually say this totally un-sappy yet ultra romantic line. This is something that any girl would die to hear. Die. Talk about intense.

Wildefire comes out next week and I can’t wait to get my hands on a finished copy. This is a debut that is not to be missed.

***

(If this entire review sounded slightly cryptic it was only because every single thing I initially wrote included spoilers. So I tried to only reveal info from the description or what the author made known himself.)

To read an excerpt from Simon & Schuster’s website, CLICK HERE.

This review is based on a printed ARC received from the publisher, Simon & Schuster.

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