Book Review: Firestarter by Tara Sim

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CW: torture, violence and deaths

When I started reading this trilogy in part due to our Stars and Sorcery book club, I never thought I would be binge reading the whole thing in the same month. But once I began, I really wanted to know what was going to happen next and couldn’t help but stay up late nights to finish it all. And wow was that an intense finale.

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As far as final books in a fantasy series go, we all have a few standard expectations – lots of tense moments, action sequences, major revelations and realistic consequences – and this book delivered them all and how. I can’t believe that this is the same story that took place in a small town in Timekeeper because of the way this world has expanded, and the unbelievable implications of clock towers and time on innocent people. The author just ramps up the pacing and action many notches here, with the story spanning rebels fighting for freedom, terrorists seeking destruction and control, desperate youngsters fighting for family and love, gods fighting gods for supremacy, and an extremely intelligent megalomaniac villain pulling the strings behind it all. The story and writing was equal parts exciting, horrifying and heartbreaking and I just couldn’t put it down. There were parts where I thought it dragged a little or instances where I thought it was all too convenient, but it was great writing overall.

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I don’t know how the author manages to make me care about Danny so much, even when I’m infuriated with him. There is an inherent loneliness in him that I relate to so much, and he cares a lot about his friends and family which all make him a great protagonist to root for. But his single minded obsession with Colton unnerved me at times, especially when he wouldn’t let Colton grieve or feel anger properly for what was done to him, and felt jealous Colton’s feelings about the people from his past. But he also suffers greatly throughout the book, both mentally and physically and considering his already traumatic history, I couldn’t hold any grudge against him for too long. He is really put through the wringer this time but when it’s really necessary, he puts out all the stops to do what’s important for the greater good and I just kept wishing that things turn out better for him towards the end.

But it was definitely Colton and Daphne who stole the show for me. Colton’s trauma is truly unimaginable and I was in awe of the way he tried to process it all while also struggling with the intense situations he is put in constantly and having to make choices with high a price. His journey from being a happy positive clock spirit to someone who can feel the full rage of human emotions and care for so many people, and then make more sacrifices though he has already done so much – he has a great character arc and I really loved reading about him. Daphne on the other hand has a different kind of evolution, understanding to let go of the past and finding a new home and future for herself, while also doing whatever she can for the greater good.

I really don’t want to talk more about these three or the remaining wonderful cast of side characters who all have their own unique journeys and leave a memorable impression on the reader, because the author doesn’t shy away from making them all suffer and also killing some of them. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen so many significant character deaths and other consequences in a YA fantasy and I have to hand it to the author for making such bold choices.

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In the end, all I want to say is that this was an intense finale to a fun and interesting fantasy series and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. It’s a great feeling when you discover a wonderful new author (to me) in the first month of the new year. And if you are someone who likes the idea of an alternate Victorian England, time controlling clock towers and spirits, lots of Greek mythology influences, an angsty forbidden love story and lots of POC and queer characters – then you should totally checkout this series. And now that I’ve finished the author’s entire backlist in a month, I guess I have no choice but to find another wonderful author!!

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6 thoughts on “Book Review: Firestarter by Tara Sim

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  1. *jumps up and down* HOW DO I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS SERies? I saw you and Cap talk about it and I knew you were reading it but I didn’t know it was a finale! I’m glad you found Tara Sim (love, is she the author of Scavenge the Stars?). I’m going to check out this series, it sounds like my kinda story! Fantastic review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes… she is the author of Scavenge the stars.. and I started this trilogy because Cap’s book club picked the first book for January.. and then I just couldn’t stop and read the whole trilogy 😂😂😂 Jan was a Tara Sim month for me 😜😜😜
      You should definitely check it out… very lovely angsty romance too which I know you love just as much as I do 😍😍

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    1. I binge read this series and Scavenge the stars in January and I had so much fun discovering the author’s writing for the first time… I hope you enjoy this trilogy too 😊😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

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