Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

Enna BurningSummary: Enna wants a life beyond tending her home in the Forest, but when she has the chance to learn to control fire, she thinks it might be too dangerous. Bayern, however, is at war with Tira to the south, and Enna believes her kingdom can be victorious only if she uses the fire—the augury made that clear. She must find a way to use her power to burn the Tiran without being consumed herself; she may find that she herself is her greatest enemy.

Enna Burning is the second Book of Bayern, following The Goose Girl.

Review: Enna Burning is a perfect companion book to The Goose Girl. Hale retains the characters from her first book but brings new ones to the forefront, allowing them to control the action and even flavor the book with their different personalities.  Enna is a stronger, more tempestuous protagonist than Isi, and Enna Burning becomes slightly darker and more action-oriented than The Goose Girl.

The story is solid enough to stand on its own, not relying on the success of The Goose Girl to sell it. Hale has the same compelling narrative voice, but she has lots of new ideas. Readers will be delighted with the development of elements from the first book, including the way magic functions, and how they inspire new plot and dynamic character personalities. They will also be excited to watch the unfolding of a new romance.

I have one complaint against this book, and it is that the premise is unsound. (Minor spoilers ahead.) Once Enna decides to use her power over fire against the enemy, the best way she can think to do it is by burning one or two perimeter tents in the Bayern towns they are occupying. Eventually she upgrades to burning small piles of supplies. In my opinion, her actions are having absolutely no effect on the war effort, but they are presented by the narrative voice as completely serious threats—and not just actions that Enna foolishly and mistakenly thinks are significant. Apparently, she is actually helping Bayern win a war by burning about three unoccupied tents (something someone with a match might also have accomplished.) The enemy’s response is equally absurd because they view her as incredibly dangerous, despite the lack of evidence she plans to burn anything larger. These scorched tents form the basis for the entire subsequent plot, and it is disappointing because there is no reason they should.

Published: 2004

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