Here are the basics ...
Fire (Elements of Power, #1) by Heather James
Publication date: Jan. 1, 2013
Category: Young Adult - Fantasy
Source: Received from author in exchange for honest review (Thank you!)
Summary: Is control over the elements a gift, or a curse? Roxy thinks that she is in control of everything: with flames flaring at her fingertips and an equally fiery attitude, what more could she need? But then she meets Brae, a prince from a rival Realm, who turns her assumptions of superiority upside down. Jasmine has none of Roxy’s confidence or intensity. But she does have a secret - and Brae - and she’s not going to give either up willingly. (Adapted goodreads.com)
My thoughts...Let's talk about the world-building first. There are four realms and each realm is associated with an element (earth, wind, water, fire) and their protectors are identified by the streaks of color in their hair. (Intrigued yet?) I thought it was a great, visual way to imagine these characters and their realms. And on top of that, certain personality traits are associated with each element and can be seen in the way they dress, act and live their lives. I really enjoyed how it all tied together because it gave me such a clear vision of this world.
Going into the story, I have to admit I had some preconceived notions about the main characters, Roxy and Jasmine. Roxy is a protector and princess of the Helian realm which means she can control fire and she has streaks of red in her hair. Not surprisingly she's a bit hot-tempered, arrogant and fiesty and that's exactly what I expected of her. She was going to be the badass heroine everyone always loves. But as I read on, she and her people aren't what you call the good guys. It was interesting to read from that perspective and still want to root for Roxy because she embraces everything that she is and what comes with being a Helian. I loved her spirit and the fight in her. But when the protectors from all four realms meet to discuss a treaty, she's forced to spend time with the Arcans (whose element is Water) and their prince and protector Brae. She starts to see and feel things for him that doesn't she see coming and it definitely get very interesting between them (my one nitpick is that things felt a bit rushed at times especially towards the latter portion of the book).
Now, Jasmine. I thought she was going to be weak and insecure in comparison to Roxy's strong personality. But again, her character turned out to be more complex than I thought. In some ways, I though she was tougher than Roxy. Jasmine isn't a protector. She's just a seemingly regular girl who grew up in the Arcan Realm, alongside Brae, who is her best friend (personally I'm sensing and hoping for some romance between these two!). But when she gets this feeling that Brae and her friends could be danger, she doesn't hesitate to help them. Even though they all have powers and she doesn't. She trusts her instincts and of all the characters, I'm the most curious about her backstory. There's a lot more to her than meets the eye.
Do I recommend?: I do! I think that this is a great first book in a promising series. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next and getting some answers!
Guest Post from the author, Heather James:
Top 5 Fantasy Worlds I Would Like to Live In
The Mortal Instruments: I really want to be a shadowhunter, even though I’m a complete scaredy- cat and would probably run in the opposite direction if I saw a demon. I think it’s the runes that make being one desirable. And the weapons. And Jace… This is my only pick that isn’t a completely invented world, but rather a fantasy twist on our own and I like the familiarity of it. I also think that, in a lot of ways, it’s just as hard to create a fantasy realm within the real world as it is to come up with one from scratch because there are so man fundamental laws and expectations that you need to conform to.
His Dark Materials: Speaking of demons… I would love to have a daemon like Pan. My favourite animals are dolphins, so not really ideal to have as a daemon. I think mine would probably be a rabbit: small, quiet and likely to stomp its feet when unhappy! I also love how Lyra’s world is similar to ours and yet incredibly different in subtle ways.
Elements of Power: Ok, so maybe I’m bias here, but really, why would I create a world that I didn’t want to live in? I think I would like to be a Brizan: I like my home-comforts too much to be a Sephan; I like the heat, but I don’t have a Helian temperament; I’m more like an Arcan, but I don’t like the cold. The Brizan Realm would be the best fit for me and I love the sea too. Protector-wise I would rather be a Helian though; I just think there’s something so incredibly cool about being able to produce flames from your fingertips.