{Review} FIREBLOOD by Trisha Wolfe

I've also reviewed Trisha Wolfe's ASTARTE'S WRATH and OF SILVER AND BEASTS. You can also read an excerpt from Trisha's upcoming sequel OF DARKNESS AND CROWNS here now!

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

   BASKET HOOKED ON ONE ARM, I browse the fruit display of a vendor's stand in Town Square, trying to ignore the white towers of Castle Karm just past the rolling hills of the gated royal village. It's become a constant presence in my weekly errands. An affecting reminder, a monstrosity to be feared and obeyed, even more so than the knights of the Force patrolling the cobbled roadways.
   The day is overcast, and the faint blue lines of the sky are distinct, contrasting against the dark clouds. The grid veils the market in a blue-gray hue. The rows of apples are a sea of bright blue stars, their glassy skins reflecting the dome's gleam.
   A chill prickles my skin, and the hairs on the back of my neck lift up. 
   I'm being watched.
(pg. 5, US e-ARC edition)

Last week when reviewing Kimberly Derting's THE OFFERING, I mentioned that it was rare to see a mix of medieval fantasy elements in a modern society, the way they do in Derting's THE PLEDGE and C.J. Redwine's DEFIANCE. Trisha Wolfe brings one more such series to the mix with the release of her new YA novel, FIREBLOOD, which goes back to the days of Camelot...with modern-day technology!

Of course, no one in society knows that things shouldn't really be this way to the depth they are, that it's all just, in essence, a game. In that sense, it reminds me of a book I used to love called VIOLET EYES by Nicole Luiken (Which I believe might be out of print now). Yet, not quite, either. FIREBLOOD is completely its own entity. I actually think the idea of being able to choose what time period you want to live in and having the whole thing recreated is kind of awesome technology. I wouldn't want the plagues and such from that time to come back, since obviously, we're living with modern technology, but the romance of certain eras keeps us coming back again and again like glutens.

In a way, FIREBLOOD also reminds me of THE SELECTION by Kiera Cass, since it revolves around Zara Dane, a girl selected to marry Prince Sebastian Hart on live TV. She doesn't want to, and hates the royal family. She doesn't have to go through a selection process/competition show, however. In that regards, the TV is more Big Brother, or more like how everything is monitored in THE HUNGER GAMES, even quiet moments in the wild. The camera sees everything, and the king knows all. Zara is terrified of him, especially since she's hiding an enormous secret. Her father has contracted an incurable virus, one which must be reported right away. Only, Zara has been keeping it secret. She doesn't want to have her father taken away. Of course, the moment she is chosen to be a future princess, all eyes turn toward her, and he's removed from her life anyway. Her father was harboring dark, dangerous secrets, one that put Zara in more peril than she could possibly imagine, ones that could sentence her to death were the king to discover them. Upon entering the palace, Zara plays a treacherous game of cat and mouse, especially as she begins falling for, not Prince Sebastian, but the prince's first knight, Sir Devlan Capra...

There are definitely Camelot-esque elements at play. At first, the love triangle between Zara, Prince Sebastian, and Sir Devlan reminded me of the one between King Arthur, Princess Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot, only without the same core set of emotional attachments. All three characters are developed, and it's easy to see multiple sides. On the one hand, you totally want Zara and Devlan to get together because they have immediate chemistry. On the other hand, there's something about Sebastian that has you rooting for him to go against the grain and become this amazing human being who overthrows his father. The will he/won't he aspect keeps readers on the edge of their seats, especially as Zara begins softening toward him. There's also a lot more going on behind the scenes than you might think as readers delve deeper into Zara's world and learn the deadly secrets the king has been keeping. It's downright horrifying, and solidly cements FIREBLOOD as a dystopian fantasy.

Despite being the first in a series, FIREBLOOD has a solidly good, closed ending. No cliffhangers in sight! I would love to see more worlds explored in future books, because the technology of literal world-building is so intriguing to me. At first, it read very strangely to me, but as I became more absorbed in the novel and saw more of what was going on and at stake, I was immersed and really admired such an out-there idea!
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I *love* that loopy "f" in FIREBLOOD. Excuse me while I stop writing to stare at it! 

Also, the armor, the headpiece, the sword...all of these catch my eye right away! 

His outfit is a little more modern than hers, hmmm, intriguing. You might think it's accidental or on-budget until you realize that the society in which everyone lives is actually quite modern and futuristic!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Trisha Wolfe
Release Date: Dec. 17, 2013
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Received: For Review

To save a kingdom, Zara must choose between a prince who could be the answer and a rising rebellion that threatens to take control. 

When Zara Dane is chosen to marry Prince Sebastian Hart, son of the man who ordered her father’s capture, Zara knows she must fight to save everything she loves from ruin. 

Being betrothed to the prince means a life trapped behind the towering stone walls of the Camelot-forged realm. Under the watchful eye of the prince's first knight, Sir Devlan Capra, changing her future becomes difficult. 

When an unlikely rebel reveals the truth about the deadly secrets that fuel King Hart’s twisted world, Zara’s path to rescue her father becomes clouded by deception. The Rebels clear her path by forcing Zara’s hand with an ultimatum: sway Prince Sebastian to join the Rebels, convincing him of his father’s evil nature, or they will take him out. 

But Zara is uncertain about a future under the Rebels’ command and where the prince’s heart truly lies. She must decide who to trust, what to believe, and what she’s truly fighting for before the king destroys all of Karm, including her heart.