The Secret Fire by C.J Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld

secret fire

3 out of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this work.

Sacha’s family is cursed. Each firstborn male in his line will die exactly on his eighteenth birthday. While unfortunate, this means that, until that time, Sacha cannot die. Taylor thinks she is ordinary until she starts showing signs of magical powers. Taylor’s teacher is forcing her to be Sacha’s tutor, but their relationship turns out to be much more complicated when Taylor discovers she is the only one who can break Sacha’s curse.

The first part of the book where a depressed Sacha is making money by exploiting his inability to die I found very insightful. In a lot of books, when a protagonist finds out they have superpowers, they immediately use it to do something noble. I think that it is perfectly reasonable to expect a depressed teenager with immortality to use it for something stupid like trying to buy a motorbike. I also thought the character of his mother, desperately trying to hold her family together and pretend nothing is wrong, was well done.

The second half of the book, when it gets down to the real business of fighting the evil that will be released upon Sacha’s death, was much more typical of a YA fantasy of this type and I found it less enjoyable. The plot went from a clever and introspective look at how real people might deal with a death sentence combined with a superpower to a very standard good-against-evil style novel.

I guess I was hoping the book would go on and explore Sacha’s character more. He is at once blessed because he can cheat death, and doomed to die early. He becomes surly and despondent, which is a reasonable way to react. Taylor and Sacha could have really explored the emotional nuances of not being able to die and begin trapped by a definite termination date.

I loved the first part and liked the second part. I just wish all of it had been as engaging as the beginning.


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