Title: Fire with Fire
Author: Destiny Soria
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication date: June 8, 2021
Format / source: eBook / ARC from publisher
Purchase: HMH Books
Own voices: Latinx (Mexican-American) MCs
Content warnings: depictions of panic attacks, grief
Another contender for my favourite reads of the year! I love a sibling story and this one comes with Buffy-esque drama, dragons, and anxiety representation so there’s much to love! Big thanks to Clarion Books for the review copy!
Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.
Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. With Dani lost to the dragons, Eden turns to the mysterious and alluring sorcerers to help save her sister. Now on opposite sides of the conflict, the sisters will do whatever it takes to save the other. But the two are playing with magic that is more dangerous than they know, and there is another, more powerful enemy waiting for them both in the shadows.
I loved the humour in this one, which started right from the first page. But along with the constant humour and sarcasm in the dialogue, it’s also quite a serious story as it looks at the dangers of fighting dragons of course, but also the struggles of and coping methods for people with mental illnesses and handling others’ perceptions and demands of you, as well as the beautiful and honest depiction of the relationship of these two sisters.
“‘I’m not like you,’ Dani said. ‘I fight to win.’
‘So do I!’
‘No, you fight to be perfect. It’s not the same.'” (p. 15)
It’s a quick read despite its length (over 400 pages!) so I don’t want to give too much away beyond what the blurb offers (and you’d be fine following along by skipping the blurb altogether). I will say that I felt the representation the author offers felt very real, and while I can’t speak from an own voices perspective, it felt true. Dani, the youngest sister, is proudly bisexual and directly combats biphobic assumptions and stereotypes. The eldest, Eden, deals with anxiety and panic attacks and there are very detailed descriptions of these attacks and their impact on her life.
“Maybe the destiny she’d been chasing all these years wasn’t even hers. Maybe she was destined to be firstborn and second best.” (p. 36)
I got big Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibes as Dani is not a big fan of the constant training with her sister and would rather spend time with her friends and focus on school. She struggles to balance this double life of being a secret slayer in disguise. Sound like anyone familiar? While there aren’t many similarities between the two, if you enjoy reading about teens taking on adventure and big responsibilities, I think you’ll love this one.
“Despite her better judgment, she’d ridden her bike the three miles to meet him at the overlook just after sunset. Then, taking her better judgment and shooting it in the face, she’d agreed to let him carry her somewhere that couldn’t be reached on foot.” (p. 82-83)
Overall, I really, really enjoyed this one which might be why I’m having a hard time figuring out what to write about it! The characters are endearing and funny and still have their (sometimes significant) flaws, the story moves quickly and easily so you get sucked in, and it’s a creative modern take on dragon stories that incorporates Mexican mythology. Definitely one of my favourites of the year!
About the Author: Destiny Soria is a Young Adult fantasy author and freelance writer. Her novels feature magic, mystery, and an excess of witty banter. She lives in Birmingham, AL, where she spends her time trying to come up with bios that make her sound kind of cool. She has yet to succeed.
Author links: Website | Instagram
What’s your favourite dragon story?
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Own voices identification based on information made public by author.
Cover image, blurb, and author bio from Goodreads.