THE FIREBIRD SONG, by Arnée Flores, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, June 1, 2021, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 9 and up)
The Firebird Song is a strong standalone middle-grade fantasy by debut author Arnée Flores.
The Kingdom of Lyrica was once warm and thriving, kept safe by the Firebird, whose feather and song was a blessing of peace and prosperity. But the Firebird disappeared, and Lyrica is now terrorized by the evil Spectress who wields her powers from within a volcano. All that remains is a mysterious message scrawled on the castle wall in the Queen’s own hand: Wind. Woman. Thief.
Young Prewitt has only known time without the Firebird, a life of constant cold, as his village is afraid to tempt the volcano monsters with even the feeblest fire. But he has heard whispers that the kingdom’s princess survived the attack . . . and he is certain that if he can find her, together they can save Lyrica.
Princess Calliope has no memories beyond living on her barge on the underground lake. But as she nears her twelfth birthday, she is certain there is more to life than the walls of a cave. When Prewitt finds her, he realizes that she is the missing princess: the only hope for Lyrica. Determined to decipher the meaning of her mother’s strange message and find the Firebird, Calliope and Prewitt set off on a quest that puts them in more danger than either of them ever anticipated. —Synopsis provided by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
The Firebird Song is being billed as “perfect for fans of Shannon Hale.” It’s an apt comparison, as both authors have been inspired by myths and tales. Both authors also seem to have an understanding of their audiences — expecting that readers will appreciate complexities while allowing them to fill in details with imagination.
That said, it does take a few chapters to get into The Firebird Song. Readers enter the story with no prior knowledge of Lyrica, and knowledge base grows as the story progresses. Author Arnée Flores does a good job of world building, and it the setting soon springs up around you.
Prewitt and Calliope are strong main characters who learn to depend on each other as well as to have faith in their own individual abilities. Supporting characters flesh out the story to varying degrees, with some behaving more like props while others become integral.
The Firebird Song is a fast-paced and engaging fantasy novel with an uncomplicated premise. It’s fairly tame as far as fantasy elements go — the magic and lore are simple — making it appropriate for middle readers ages 9 and up.
© 2021, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted, all books — digital and physical — have been provided for free by publishers in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. All thoughts and opinions are those of the reviewer.