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Mortal Fire Hardcover – June 11, 2013


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 18 years
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 830L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (June 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374388296
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374388294
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up–A complex, riveting novel set in 1959 on an island republic in the South Pacific, “in a world very like our own–but not completely.” Canny, 16, is a mathematician who can see “Extra”–like bits of an unknown language floating in letters in the air. Her brilliance earns her accolades as she competes as a member of the math team. School has ended for the year, and Canny is being forced to accompany her stepbrother, Sholto, and his girlfriend on a camping trip to the Peninsula. Canny's stepfather, who is a history professor, is researching a mining disaster that took place there 30 years before, and Sholto will be interviewing people in the area. Canny doesn't want to go along for lots of reasons, but mainly because she doesn't want to be away from her best friend, Marli, who is a polio victim and is kept in an iron lung. Canny's strong-willed mother insists, and the girl is forced to comply. While on the trip, the young people enter a valley that changes Canny's life forever. The air is rife with Extra, she recognizes that magic is being used by the people there, and she also discovers that she is able to perform it  herself. She finds a way to the hidden house at the top of the hill, where Ghislain, an attractive 17-year-old, is trapped by a spell put in place decades earlier. Canny decides to try to steal some of the magic to heal Marli. Torn between her attraction for Ghislain and her loyalty to her friend, she is faced with almost overwhelming realizations as her true parentage is revealed. An absorbing, but challenging read.–Kathy Kirchoefer, Henderson County Public Library, NCα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Sixteen-year-old Canny Mochrie has always been different: too cold, too brown, and too strange. She can see something extra—unreality along the edges of things—so she knows immediately that the Zarene Valley is not what it appears to be. A strangely familiar magic has permeated everything, and as Canny is drawn to Ghislain, a handsome 17-year-old boy, she discovers a secret that has defined the Zarenes and the valley for years may be tied to her own murky family history. Knox takes readers on a journey to a world just slightly askew from our own. Intricately plotted, highly literate prose, along with alternating points of view, illuminates the fantastical heart of the story. This is a superficially straightforward tale of girl meets boy (and falls in love and loses him and then fights to save him) made complex through magic and dreams and their repercussions on reality. This is one of those books that, when finished, prompts the reader to go back and reread it in hopes of catching all the clues along the way. Grades 7-11. --Charli Osborne

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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I just cannot recommend this book as there was too much filler to fight through to get to the story.
Quickbeam
Canny is a bit difficult to understand and though her abilities are unique and while I did enjoy the plot, I couldn't stand her as a character.
Zellie
Mortal Fire Hardcover by Elizabeth Knox certainly sounded like it had potential, and lets face it any book does.
K.Wagner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By galfrombrooklyn VINE VOICE on September 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an explosive book, full of magic and mystery set in New Zealand. A 16 year old, Canny Mochrie, is on vacation when she ventures upon a magic-filled valley. Will it answer the questions she has asked her whole life? This is an excellent, thoroughly engrossing book that adults will enjoy as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul Douglas Deane on August 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book has many strong points, but I'd highlight three: the creative system of magic; the powerful sense of place; and the protagonist, who rings very, very true. She's an outsider on multiple levels, and the sense of viewing the social world from outside, understanding it, yet not really being part of it, will resonate for a lot of readers. For more details, see my full review on my blog at [...]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sam on July 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
It's clear from the start that Mortal Fire will only work for a very specific audience. The first few pages are almost excruciatingly slow-paced - though not at all poorly written - and the journey to the end feels largely like an uphill trek. It's demanding and full of detail, and, as a consequence, requires ample amounts of concentration and thought. Despite that, despite its almost irritating intricacy, it is wonderfully mesmerising and unquestionably original. There is something quite distinctly magical about the story and something quite utterly endearing about the main character. Although I had to use some brain power - which, you know, I don't always like to do - I really, really liked this book.

It begins with a note from the author, stating that Mortal Fire is set in a world mostly like our own and where the year is 1959. Our protagonist arrives in the form of Canny Mochrie, an unusual and perceptive 16-year-old girl whose vision is sharp enough to pick up on the `Extra'. These are floating, calligraphic threads that are occasionally semi-transparent in appearance (and what I imagine the lettering effect on the book cover is supposed to reflect). Her brother's interest in a mining accident takes them to Zarene Valley, where one of the survivors of the accident lives, and it's here where Canny learns that magic is real and that she can manipulate it herself. Along the way, we are introduced to a whole plethora of strange concepts, from lie-detecting wind chimes and the intimate power of an ideogrammatic language, to a hidden house where time obeys a different set of rules and to a 17-year-old who has been imprisoned for 30 years.

It is Canny who truly makes this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cecelia Larsen on October 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I paid a hefty reading tax (aka library fine) for the pleasure of reading Elizabeth Knox's Mortal Fire in my own good time. And I'll tell you - I don't mind the fine, because the extra time allowed me to find a day when my mind was clear, my stress levels low, and my imagination ready for a fantastical mystery unlike any I'd read before. Mortal Fire is a brilliant book, and certainly one of the best I have read this year.

Canny Mochrie is one person, but she's got more layers of identity than anyone else her age. She's a mathematical genius, the daughter of two (separately) famous people, the loyal friend of polio-stricken Marli, and the sister of poetic Sholto, the descendant of a Shackle Islander. And aside from all of that, there's her Extra, a sort of `sense' that may mean something, or may be an imagining - simply one more thing setting her apart in a way that does not bode well for her future. When she's sent away for the summer and ends up exploring a strangely serene valley, bits of her past begin to reveal themselves, and Canny's mysterious Extra may hold the key to breaking a curse.

When I finish a great book, I usually have some very definite thoughts about what made it so wonderful - well-written boxes ticked, favorite story tropes recreated, or a character I connected deeply with. When I finished Mortal Fire, I felt as though I had finally stepped into the center of a maze, but I didn't know why I felt so relieved and awed. I couldn't see the inner workings of the story - I could only tell that I had lived in a fantastic world for the duration.

The very mystery that made the story work, the history and the world-building - these are things I don't want to spoil, so I won't patter on any more about them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Lim on October 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
"Mortal Fire" is set in the same place as Knox's wonderful books "Dreamhunter" and "Dreamquake," but about 50 years later. It's not necessary to have read those books to follow this one, but I did enjoy being able to revisit the place and a few of the references to the earlier events. What's also nice is that the plot is complete within this one book and the pieces of the various puzzles all find their way together (kind of magically) by the end of this book and readers don't have to read a second book to figure it all out. But what's most important is that all of the books have just such a powerful sense of place and their own distinct tone; I couldn't help but feel utterly transported there, immersed in the story and the place. The books all have a slightly dreamlike quality, one of mists and mystery just gathering around the periphery. The plot is complex, the mystery of Canny's ability and how it fits in with the strange history of the Zarenes an intriguing one. When it comes together, the reader reaches the a-ha moment just as the characters do. Plus, the emotional pull is real; we care about what happens to the characters, and it's sweet and satisfying. Fantastic book. - Read my full review at: [...]
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