Elizabeth Knox's Mortal Fire is a stand-alone historical fantasy set in Southland, the same alternate-New Zealand as Dreamhunter and Dreamquake. The Dreamhunter Duet totally blew me away, so I was thrilled to read another book set in the same world. I was not disappointed. In fact, I ignored the other four books I had on the go while I was immersed in Mortal Fire.
When I was finished, I felt bereft. Have you seen the Epic Reads video about book hangovers? It was kind of like that. It took a few days before I was able to comfortably settle into a different book.* I only wanted more more more Southland, with its dreamy magic.
Mortal Fire opens in alternate 1959. Canny/Akenesi/Agnes is 16, one of the few brown-skinned students at her school, and the star of the math team. She has an uncanny ability that she can't explain to others, a way of feeling the cracks between things, seeing the patterns that make the world.
Canny's mother Sisema is an indigenous Ma'eu from the Shackle Islands near Southland. When her parents travel to her mother's home island so that Sisema can receive an award of honour, Canny is left in the care of her older stepbrother, Sholto, and his girlfriend. The three of them spend the school holidays in a place unlike anything Canny has previously experienced. Bring on the earth magic!
Believable characters, an atmospheric setting, gorgeous language and an absorbing plot.
I loved this book. Absolutely adored it.
*Tim Winton's dark and stunning Eyrie, set in contemporary western Australia.