Thank you to Scholastic Press for the advance copy of Fire Becomes Her for review!

Seventeen-year-old Ingrid Ellis doesn’t have fame, fortune or power, but she’s never let that stop her. She made her way into an elite private school and the heart of Linden Holt, heir to a political dynasty and a large fortune of the magical flare that helps the country run. Her only obstacle is Linden’s father.

When Senator Holt announces a campaign for president, Ingrid takes advantage of the situation; she strikes a deal with Holt to spy on his opposition in exchange for his approval, a spot on his cabinet and the status she desperately craves.

But when Ingrid joins the Gwendolyn Meyers campaign, she’s torn. Meyers and her team seem to genuinely want to change the world for the better; they care about Ingrid and people like her. The longer she stays undercover, the more Ingrid questions her true allegiances.

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Fire Becomes Her is a 1920s-influenced fantasy in a world where people drink a magical substance called “flare.” Flare is critical for power of all kinds, primarily political, and the wealthy hoard it for themselves. While I didn’t quite follow the magic system, I appreciate the concept of magic as a mined, nonrenewable resource.

Author Rosiee Thor examines wealth disparity and how people take resources for granted in an exciting way. There’s even a scene during the presidential debate where Meyers demonstrates “trickle-down magic,” showing how it never really works. Thor uses her novel to explore corrupt institutions and the need for deep systemic change.

It takes Ingrid a long time to figure out how much change her world needs. Raised in poverty, her every move up until now was designed to help her blend in with high society. Ingrid isn’t always a noble hero; while she’s cunning and resourceful, it takes her time to balance her ambition with doing what’s right for everyone else.

As a result, it’s refreshing when she realizes she can’t fight injustice by blending into the background. Fire Becomes Her is as much about individual identity as it is about changing the world.

Speaking of identity, there’s a lot of great representation in Fire Becomes Her. Ingrid is aromantic-spectrum bisexual alongside additional aro/ace characters. There’s a trans/nonbinary secondary character along with a long-term, older queer couple. Thor also shows queer-platonic relationships are as fulfilling as romantic ones in an incredibly natural way.

While it stumbles a little with world-building, Fire Becomes Her is about so many important things. It’s about a girl trying to find her place in the world — the want and drive it evokes. Thor elegantly explores society’s deep, structural problems, mainly how the powerful operate and affect everyone under them. Overall, it’s a fun and unique story, perfect for anyone who wants to burn it all down and start fresh.

Fire Becomes Her comes out on February 1 and is available for preorder now from your local independent bookstore or Bookshop.org.

TW: abandonment, alcohol consumption, blood, death, fire/burning, gaslighting/manipulation, imprisoned parent, murder, sexism, terrorist acts, violence

This review was originally published on 1/31/22.

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