John was helping Wyn to her feet when she saw the old man. He was standing a stone’s throw away, in the shadow of two beeches, as lean and as mottled with age as the trees themselves. He was dressed like a farmer, in old tweeds with a pack over his shoulder, but Wyn knew all the farmers in the dale and she didn’t recognize the man as one of them (p 33).
On an Earth ravaged by increasingly long winters, a young orphan girl unaffected by the cold and transfixed by fire has the ability to bring warmth to the planet.
Wyn has few attachments. She loved her now deceased first foster mother and she has grudgingly accepted the love of her new foster sister, Kate, but she remains aloof from others.
In the final days of summer, snow still covers the little dale in England where Wyn lives. While ice skating on a frozen pond, Wyn is approached by Tawhir, a handsome boy who both attracts her and causes her alarm. Shortly thereafter, she and Kate are attacked by a bear that breaths icy death. The encounter leaves Kate in a coma and Wyn utterly confused. Tawhir insists only Wyn and her fire can save Kate.
Will Wyn embrace her nature and responsibilities or will the revelation of her past spell doom for humanity?
This slim novel shifts quickly and seamlessly into the magical realm, providing a powerful kid-friendly introduction to the anthropocene and a basis for hope that the Earth, and possibly humanity, might survive our folly.
Kirkus raves: Thoroughly realized characters, a story that combines high fantasy with the pagan world of nature spirits, settings that amplify and uphold the natural-world underpinnings of the plot, and plenty of tension characterize this refreshing read.
My only criticism is that a few of the passages could have been improved by more polished sentences, but overall an excellent book. Highly recommended.