Sunday, October 6, 2013

Enna Burning (The Books of Bayern #2) - Shannon Hale

Don't forget I've got a giveaway running until October 14th!



Enna and Princess Isi became fast friends in The Goose Girl, but after Isi married Prince Geric, Enna returned to the forest. Enna's simple life changes forever when she learns to wield fire and burn anything at will. Enna is convinced that she can use her ability for good--to fight Tira, the kingdom threatening the Bayern borders--and goes on secret raids to set fire to the Tiran camps and villages. But as the power of the fire grows stronger, she is less able to control her need to burn. In her recklessness she is captured by the Tiran army and held captive by a handsome, manipulative young captain who drugs her to keep her under his influence. Can Isi and her old friends Finn and Razo rescue her without sacrificing themselves? And with the fire still consuming her, will Enna find a way to manage the gift that threatens to destroy her?

First line - The woman bore a scorch mark from her chin to her brow.


I enjoyed this book overall, although not nearly as much as I did The Goose Girl.  I'm not sure why really.  Perhaps because fairy tale retellings have a special place in my heart - especially those not often done?  In any case, regardless of my comparisons to the first book in the series, Enna Burning is a good read on its own.

Enna Burning is definitely a little darker than The Goose Girl.  Enna discovers how to fire-speak, but the need to burn consumes her.  It almost feels like a slow possession as you see Enna morph from Isi's outspoken and loving best friend into a person who sneaks into enemy camps and sets tents on fire.  Little by little the power takes control, until she breaks her promise to never burn people.  Much of the book is spent in Enna's thoughts as she tries to fight her compulsion to burn.  Enna questions who she is, what she has become, as well as how her relationships with the people she loves has changed.  I can't really say much about the story without spoilers, but it's full of adventure and action, as well as love, and moral quandaries.  It's got a little bit of something for everyone, and Isi/Ani makes many appearances here, as does Finn.  I am quite fond of Finn, he's easily my favourite character of this book!  He's genuinely sweet and caring, and he's a sort of quiet soul.  He's got this sort of calm confidence which is refreshing after Ani and Enna's loud thoughts all the time (I love them both, dearly, but it does off set Finn quite a bit).

That being said, I felt a little disconnected from characters - things happened that I would have expected more emotional response from, but didn't and I'm not sure why.  Maybe it's because Enna's character is stubborn enough that she doesn't go through nearly as drastic a transformation as Ani did.  Agh here I am trying to figure out why I didn't love the story, when I've already said it was a good read!  It makes me sound ungrateful.  If you are a fan of Shannon Hale there is no reason not to read this book.  If you don't know who I'm talking about, go read The Goose Girl (the first book in this series) right now!  Or the Book of a Thousand Days, which was my introduction to Shannon Hale's writing and is another favourite of mine.  You could read this book without reading The Goose Girl if you wanted to I suppose, as the focus is on a different main character, but almost all the characters in this book were in the previous book as well, so you won't get quite the same feel for the story.

I was looking at the later books in the series to see who gets featured, and you know what I realized?  I want to know what happens Conrad!  What is he up to now?  Is he still a goose boy?  I'd like to think some of those questions might get answered, but I don't think it's likely.  Maybe I'll find a new fanfic to follow haha!

Bechdel Test  

Isi moved her chair closer and turned the wet cloth on Enna's forehead over to the cooler side.  Enna held her breath until she could control the desire to cry, then spoke with a stunned, sleepy calm.
"I killed.  Hundreds of people.  I burned them alive."
"It was war," Isaid Isi.
"It was me,"  Enna said bitterly.  "You were right about the fire, about its power being too much for one person.  But you should know, nothing forced me to do it.  I chose" She lifted up her hands and saw the smooth, natural skin. 
"Why aren't I burnt up?"

"You nearly were.  I heard rumor of you on the wind, and then I cooled you.  The wind had to keep at you, like putting out a hay fire that keeps relighting."  
"Ah," said Enna remembering.
They were quiet a moment.  Enna studied the way strips of light behind the curtains painted the wall

Ahh, I love Enna and Isi's relationship!  It makes me so happy.  Even if this is a particularly dark subject.  There's not quite as many female conversations in this book, but that's because it's set in a war camp, so that's not hugely surprising.

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