Friday, 19 November 2010

Book Review: Enna Burning by Shannon Hale


Enna's life was not meant to be simple. When her brother, Leifer, brings home a mysterious piece of vellum that teaches him how to set fires — without a spark, without flint — Enna cannot decide if this power is one she wants for herself, or something that should be extinguished forever.
And when Bayern, their country, goes to war, the choice becomes nearly unbearable. Enna never imagined that the warm, life-giving energy of a fire could destroy everything she loves, but she must now save herself and Bayern before fire consumes her entirely.

Shannon Hale's new tale is wholly original and spellbinding, a powerful companion to her highly acclaimed first book, The Goose Girl.

My review and thoughts

Enna Burning follows the story of Isi's best friend Enna and the war between Bayern and its neighbour. Whilst the Goose Girl was a loose fairy tale retelling, this sequel is completely its own original story. That is why it would be possible to read this book before before the first without too many problems but I really reccommend that anyone planning on reading it should read The Goose Girl first to understand the background to the story better and because it is such an enchanting story that you wouldn't want to miss it!

This book has a slightly different feel to Goose Girl as I found it to be more dark than the first book in the Books of Bayern. The Goose Girl gives a much clearer picture of the lands of Bayern and Kildendree but this one is much more character orientated. However, I loved it just as much as the Goose Girl, just in a different way as it was a more pacy read with a lot more action happening at once. I am happy to say though that the beautiful descriptions that give Shannon Hale her distinct writing style are retained and I was submerged into Enna's world just as much as Isi's.

Opening the pages of this book is a bit like returning home after a short break away as all the characters- such as Isi (Ani), Geric, Razo and Fin- and the setting felt so familiar to me. Despite this the start was a little slow moving but this is more than compensated for by the fact that once the story gets going, it really sucks you in.

Enna's character is the complete opposite of Isi's as she is much more headstrong, fiery, strong minded and opinionated, (which suits her magical gift well!) but she is also fiercely loyal as is Isi.  She is not as likable as Isi but I think that is what makes her such an interesting character.  I really enjoyed getting to know her character more as not much was revealed about her in the first book. Also, I liked seeing how she grew as a character throughout the book and dealt with the challenges and need of inner strength and courage that come special powers  as well as the effects that her gift with fire has on her. There are many times when she makes the wrong choices but she is very well meaning at heart and wants the best for all her friends and Bayern.

As I mentioned before, there was a lot more action because of the war between Bayern and its neighbour, which naturally creates quite a stir. Quite soon into the book, I was launched into scenes of violent battlefields but Hale descriptions of it are very clean but still manage to capture the brutality  of the war but also the tension within the young men fighting and their family.

I loved Shannon Hale's take on the use of magic because she shows that there is always a consequence to using it and that it cannot be used carelessly. Also, the magic of the natural elements and the balance that two of them can create as shown in this book is something I found more captivating than more fantastical magic perhaps because it is closer to reality. A lot of fantasy books just seem to take using powers it for granted and I found seeing the consequences making up a lot of the storyline very refreshing.

Verdict: The Goose Girl is a masterfully crafted wonderfully unique  and vivid story using the foundations of The Goose Girl that portrays war, bloodshed and magic along with the power of friendship and trust that brings out the best in everyone


  1. Thanks for stopping by, Stephanie! Happy Friday to you too :) Great to see you enjoyed Enna Burning as well. I totally agree with you about Shannon's take on magic - her system makes a lot of sense and like you say, there can be consequences (as Enna finds with fire and you get burnt!)

  2. Okay, so I am going to have to read Goose Girl then. I haven't read any books but Shannon Hale and her premises sound right up my street. Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. I'm so glad I was able to help you discover a gem of a book Becky. I hope you enjoy it and I'll be keeping an eye out for a review sometime in the future :)


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