From: the public library
For the challenge: 2nd Reading Challenge
In a nutshell:
This is the second of Hale’s Books of Bayern series, the first being Goose Girl. Goose Girl was based on a fairytale, but Enna Burning is an original tale. Enna was a secondary character in Goose Girl, but as the title indicates, she is the protagonist in this second book.
Set a year or so after the first book, Bayern is now under attack from the neighboring kingdom of Tira. Enna acquires the power to create fire, but she is barely in control of her new abilities and they threaten to consume her. She takes some risks in contributing to the Bayern war efforts and is kidnapped by Tiran forces. A handsome Tiran captain beguiles Enna, who struggles to keep her wits about her. Meanwhile her loyal friends, among them Isi of Goose Girl, seek to rescue her.
I read Goose Girl last autumn when I was recovering from the flu. While reading Enna Burning, I wished that I had read Goose Girl more recently, so that the friendships from the first book were more solid in my mind. Enna’s relationships with her friends form the emotional foundation of Enna Burning and I felt like I wasn’t getting that full effect because I had forgotten details from Goose Girl.
Still, the theme of loyalty and unconditional friendship is a strong one that appealed to me. There’s a song lyric I know that goes: “For love is not unconditional unless conditions call upon it.” Circumstances and Enna’s own actions test the mettle of her friendships and it’s wonderful to see them hold firm.
I liked how Hale handled the romantic elements of Enna Burning. I don’t want to give too much away, but I liked how she addressed the attraction of the ‘dangerous’ love interest, how the power of words and the manipulation of situations can lull one into feeling desired and protected. Underneath, however, is not real love, but possessiveness. This is contrasted nicely with the previously mentioned loyal friendships.
The book is a slow-burner and I remember that Goose Girl was like that too. I found that the book became most interesting after Enna is kidnapped. Even though she is in a state of confusion during her captivity, I liked seeing her spirit rebel against her forced helplessness.
The plot becomes rather convoluted when Enna must try to find a way to survive the fire’s control over her. Although, looking back, Hale did plant some seeds throughout the book to hint at the solution, it still came across as too convenient. (A little like the wand-thing in the last Harry Potter book, if you know what I mean.)
My favorite part of the book was seeing Enna come into her own when she confronts her enemy for the last time. Hale knows how to create intense scenes and this one is definitely a winner.