Author: Shannon Price
Publisher: Tor Teen
Released: November 5th, 2019
Received: Net Galley
Warnings: Gang warfare
I received a copy of A Thousand Fires through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
A Thousand Fires is the debut novel of Shannon Price, and is a novel worth checking out. It’s a modern-day retelling of The Iliad, with a touch of The Outsiders thrown into the mix. Naturally, that has a lot of readers more than a little bit curious about this one.
In a world where three gangs rule the land, everything is both familiar and dangerous. On your eighteenth birthday, you stand a chance of picking recruited by one of three gangs. If recruited, you’re expected to put in a year with them. You cannot leave. You cannot run.
The Herons are the most organized gang of the three. They’ve got their hands on corporations and politicians. As such, they tend to rule the roost. The Boars are wild and loud and will do what it takes the stop the Herons from getting bigger. And then there are the Stags. They’re the smallest, and some people even believe that they don’t exist. Their goals are much more obfuscated than the other two.
Ten years ago Valerie Simons lost her little brother to a gang war. A Boar gang member killed him, even though he was just a kid. Ever since then, Valerie has been working towards getting herself recruited by the Herons so she could get her revenge.
Only, she wasn’t recruited by the Herons. Instead, the Stags came to her. And they offered her the chance at revenge that she so desperately wanted. All she has to do is earn their trust before they’ll give her a name. Just one name, and she’ll get the man who murdered her brother.
“Eighteen – old enough to have had your heart hardened, young enough that blood still passes through it.”
Warnings: This is probably fairly obvious, but this novel contains more than one example of gang violence within its pages. It’s never gratuitous, for what it is worth.
A Thousand Fires was a magnificent and emotionally compelling novel. It’s a prime example of a character-driven plot, with Valerie’s pain and determination driving her and the plot forward. It was impossible not to feel the pain and anger she was suffering from, while also hoping that she would find a better path in life.
As a fan of both The Iliad and The Outsiders, I knew that I had to give this novel a chance. Now that I’ve read it, I can honestly say that it lived up to all of my expectations. You can see the influences here, naturally. But it also felt very much like its own beast as well. The end result was something both unique and amazing.
Valerie’s character was dynamic and vibrant. Her pain felt real – like it was emanating from the pages. Watching her get into something over her head made for an interesting read, even if there were times where I felt like screaming at her (have you ever watched a movie and wanted to warn the characters about what was about to happen? It’s like that).
The secondary characters were equally interesting. The romantic subplot(s) added a lot to Valerie’s story…and her confusion. It was a perfect touch. And of course, it helped to add emotional tension to what was happening.
Part of me is actually a little bit sad that A Thousand Fires is a standalone novel. I would have happily read a second novel in this series. And even a third. I guess that just means I’ll have to check out whatever Shannon Price comes out with next.