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Mortal Fire

by Elizabeth Knox

Published by U.S. edition: Frances Foster/Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013
436 pages
ISBN: 978𢠥74-388294

Age 14 and older

Sixteen-year-old Canny is a math prodigy and the daughter of Sisema Mochrie, a Ma抏u woman and New Zealand national hero who saved two downed airmen during World War II by paddling them in an outrigger 500 miles, avoiding capture by occupying Japanese forces. When her mother and stepfather take a trip to the Shackle Islands, where her mother grew up, Canny must accompany her older half-brother Sholto and his girlfriend Susan to a coal-mining town on the peninsula, where they are conducting oral history interviews. Canny, who has always been able to sense when magic is present, feels it as soon as they arrive. There抯 a house she can see that Sholto and Susan cannot. In it she finds Ghislain Zarene. He looks like a seventeen-year-old boy but in reality is a man who抯 been held captive and un-aging by his family抯 magic for years. Slowly the story behind current events in the valley and an unsettling history unfold. Both involve a longstanding Zarene family tragedy and Canny抯 relationship with her own mother. Elizabeth Knox has penned a rich, challenging historical fantasy that occupies the same alternate world as her earlier Dreamweaver duet. She weaves numerous strands into an intricate tapestry touching on multiple themes梘ender, race, class, sexuality, honesty, loyalty, love. The growing sense of mystery and wonder is mesmerizing in a story that will satisfy readers eager to tackle a complex, ambitious work.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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