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Hot Blooded

Check it and see - Through Fire and Sea by Nicole Luiken is a fantasy worth taking a chance on.

Hot Blooded

BOOK REPORT for Through Fire and Sea (Otherselves #1) by Nicole Luiken

Cover Story: Inaccurate Big Face
BFF Charm: Yay x 2
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: She Said/She Said
Bonus Factor: Canada
Anti-Bonus Factor: Patty Chase Award for Awful Parenting
Relationship Status: Pleasantly Surprised

Cover Story: Inaccurate Big Face

Oof. Well, for starters, it’s a Big Face, so. And also, both of our main characters very specifically have dark brown hair. Did they even read the book? Honestly, it’s not the most off-putting cover out there, but I definitely think it sells the book a little short.

The Deal:

In the Fire World - a land ruled by temperamental volcano gods and the lords who try to control them - Leah is the illegitimate daughter of a duke. She’s hot blooded, so her natural ability to call forth fire and communicate with the volcano gods catches the attention of her father for the first time in her life. He sends her away to be his spy for a controversial and mysterious Queen, who teaches Leah of the existence of the four Mirror Worlds. Each world has a counterpart, or an otherself - and Leah knows how to call them.

In the Water World, Holly has no idea other worlds even exist. She’s way more concerned with getting to know Ryan, the mysterious new guy at her high school who, she’s almost positive, might have actually saved her from drowning. Things get more complicated when Leah finally reaches out to Holly through the magic of the mirrors, because Ryan - and his Fire World otherself - are both in real danger.

BFF Charm: Yay x 2

I actually really liked both Leah and Holly. They might be counterparts or “otherselves,” but neither one is the “evil twin.” Leah starts out as a firm believer in the keep-your-head-down peasant mentality that her mother instilled, but grows into the kind of person who would do anything - including riding a terrifying dragon if necessary - for the people she loves. She really develops into a girl who believes in herself, despite what others [read: nobility/jerks] might think of her. What I really liked about her, though, was her shrewd self-awareness. Girl might screw up, but she will be real about it, and that was very refreshing.

Holly, on the other hand, was a lot more familiar - probably because her world was most like our world. But she was vulnerable and honest about her fears and insecurities, which kept her from being a total Meek Mary Sue. She was also a lot funnier than Leah (although honestly, I don’t blame Leah - I wouldn’t have a lot to laugh about if my world was under constant threat of volcanic eruption, either).

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

In this book, there are actually two sets of doubles - Leah and Holly fall in love with their respective dark-and-broody guys, Gideon and Ryan, and each relationship felt unique. Their fates intertwine because, as it turns out, these counterparts are meant to be together in each version of the universe. Call me a sucker, but I love a good Soul Mate Story done right - and this one definitely is. I didn’t roll my eyes once at the concept, and that’s a pretty good marker - these soul mates seem more mysteriously fated than goofily melodramatic, and I really liked that.

Talky Talk: She Said/She Said

The story alternates between worlds - medieval-esque Fire and modern-day Water - equally at first, and each set felt distinct. I never once fell into that trap of thinking I was reading one girl’s chapter when it was actually the other girl's - something that has absolutely happened to me before. What was really cool, though, was the way the narrative structure underlined the magical way the two counterpart girls communicated. When Leah called Holly, Holly would feel it as a deep impulse to go to a mirror - and get totally sucked in and knocked out as Leah’s consciousness slid from her world to Holly’s. It was pretty trippy, but I always felt like there were good visuals, and the speed with which the two girls swapped worlds increased as the urgency ramped up - this book moved surprisingly fast for a heavy-on-the-world-builiding fantasy.

Bonus Factor: Canada

Oh, Canada. At first I was a little thrown off by Holly’s modern-day references to things like Blackberries and phones that open - then I realized that she just lived in Canada, and that explained everything [Dear Canada: KIDDING! Gentle, affectionate, good-hearted kidding!] Seriously though, I love it when a book doesn't try to blend into Middle-of-Where-Ever-America - I much prefer a book to be from somewhere specific, and be proud of it. This book did a great job of that, and you can bet I'll be planning my dream vacation after all the talk of lovely, romantic island beaches. Aye? (or wait, is it eh?)

Anti-Bonus Factor: Patty Chase Award for Awful Parenting

Ok at first I thought that Leah’s father, the cruel duke who never showed any interest in his illegitimate daughter until he could use her (and risk her life), was gonna win this award...and then I met Gideon’s mother, a woman so passionately driven that she’d happily sacrifice her son, her son’s girlfriend, AND her son's counterpart in an alternate dimension. So.

Casting Call:

Adelaide Kane as Leah/Holly

I mean, I think we can safely say that Adelaide could handle the whole medieval vibe of Fire World.

Kit Harrington as Gideon/Ryan

Yes, I realize he’s too old. No, I do not care. Gaze into his eyes for just a sec...

Benedict Cumberbatch as The Duke/Joseph Beecher

Ok so Benedict Cumberbatch is definitely too young, but he’d be so great at embodying both supreme coldness and the ultimate Hollywood cool - Leah's dad might be an old-world Duke, but Holly’s dad is an Academy Award winning director. The man that plays both these characters has to exude finesse.

Relationship Status: Pleasantly Surprised

Well, book, I'm not saying I didn't have high expectations, but your look and your high-fantasy approach had me cautious. I found myself sucked in, though, and now I’m a firm believer - I would totally go out with you again. Call me?

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Entangled Publishing. I received neither money nor Cadbury Creme Eggs for this review, even though they're really hard to find this time of year and they are my favorite. Through Fire and Sea is available now.

Savannah Kitchens's photo About the Author: Savannah Kitchens is doing the Lord’s work spreading YA lit to the masses as the head (and only member - but who’s really counting?) of the YA department at her library near Birmingham, Alabama. When she’s not disappointing her parents, she’s bottle drinking wine and playing board games with her husband.