Reviewed by: Jannelle
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
Lily Parker’s parents have gone on sabbatical and shipped her to St. Sophia’s, a boarding school in Chicago, while they work on research in Germany. As she has never been away from her parents and is used to her life in New York, moving halfway across the country is a massive and disheartening move for her.
While at St. Sophia’s, Lily makes friends with one of her roommates, Scout, who has the tendency to disappear until late into the night. After a prank gone terribly wrong, Lily stumbles into Scout, who is on her way back from one of her late night adventures with a monster in tow (yes, you read that right—monster). As it’s kind of impossible to hide the obvious elephant in the room from Lily, Scout comes clean and soon enough, Lily finds herself in the middle of a world with monsters, magic, and mayhem.
It’s the good guys versus the bad guys and Lily has no power to defend herself against the evil monsters and magic-hungry bad guys that Scout and her group fight against… Or does she?
Firespell is your standard first installment in a new series. It covers character introductions, necessary world information (and formation), and the mystery necessary to propel the story forward into new books and adventures in this magic-filled world. Neill did a fantastic job at weaving the paranormal with the normalcy of everyday life. The reader truly gets a sense of Chicago through Lily’s eyes as a newcomer to this animated city. Between the architecturally sound descriptors and the details of the Chicago food scene, it’s a wonder how I’m not planning my next getaway to the Windy City.
The only con I have is that it took too long to get to the game-changer. Don’t get me wrong, Lily’s life has turned upside down in the course of a few weeks and it’s important to understand our protagonist and her struggles as it’s all connected to the overarching story line. With that being said, I felt like I would have been more engaged with Lily had we gotten to the good stuff (i.e. what is alluded to in the blurb on the back of the book), sooner. The pace was lacking for the first 65% or so of the novel and then it was non-stop action until the last page, leaving me craving the next installment. So, Firespell was really good; it just wasn’t great.
In all honesty, I think if I would have read this book back in high school I would have appreciated it more. It reminded me of Cate Tiernan’s Sweep series (what a throwback, huh?) in that our protagonist is discovering this whole other world while simultaneously uncovering her own (family) secrets. Interestingly, I wouldn’t compare/contrast Firespell to any other of Neill’s novels (hint: Chicagoland Vampire Series) because aside from the paranormal elements, setting, and a badass protagonist, there’s not much to compare.
Okay, so there’s definitely enough to compare. Of course Chloe Neill’s eloquent and snarky prose translate into this YA series through Lily, but I’m forcing myself not to compare here, people.
The Dark Elite series has so much potential and it was such a quick read that I already have the other installments of the series in my To Be Read pile. Also, if you’re looking for a romantic element, there’s not much to fall back on here, which worked well for me for the series opener. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more in the romance department in future installments, though, and I am anxious to see what developments we’ll find there.
Overall, Firespell was a quick and easy read. If you’re a Chicagoland Vampires series fan, you need to read Firespell (but try not to compare!).
Sexual content: light kissing