Author: Karsten Knight
Release Date: July 26, 2011 (hardcover)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Overall: 4 Stars
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.
Karsten Knight has sure made a fiery entrance to the YA scene with his debut novel, Wildefire! Sure, we’ve seen boarding schools and novels influenced by mythology before, but Wildefire still brings a certain fresh touch of originality which makes it definitely stand on its own.
A highlight of the novel was the complex relationship which Ashline and Eve shared as sisters. Eve may think she’s acting in her sister’s best interests and love her, but there’s a scary intensity to Eve that just makes you want to run away while you still can. She’s a dangerous person and if anyone can stop her from causing havoc, it’s only Ash who may stand a chance. Meanwhile, Ash is courageous and you would never want to be on her bad side because she’ll take you down the first chance she gets … but Eve has always been her weakness, bringing out her vulnerable side.
I really liked how Karsten Knight introduces varying mythologies from around the world through his diverse cast of characters! The reincarnated gods and goddesses in human form each have their own abilities that trace back to their mythological origins, but they’re still very much their own individuals. They’ve been mysteriously drawn to Blackwood Academy, where they all hope to learn more about their steadily emerging powers. The only downside was that I had already known what kind of goddess Ash was, so it did diminish some of the excitement as I had to wait for her to finally pull through and learn that information for herself.
But, oh my gosh… the ending! How could Karsten Knight end the novel on such a note? Talk about a cliff-hanger ending that will leave its readers desperate for the next novel! Right when you think everything is running much more smoothly for Ashline, Karsten attacks his readers while they least expect it, leading to completely surprising results… and the realization that there are no more pages to read in the book.
I am really looking forward to seeing how the events will continue to draw out in Embers & Echoes, the second novel in the trilogy. I’m sure it will be exciting! If you love mythology-influenced novels with a dash of romance and a feisty heroine leading the way, then I’m sure you’ll be eager to read Wildefire!
Thanks so much to Simon & Schuster Canada for sending me this review copy! And if you missed it before, you can read my author interview with Karsten Knight.