Sunday, March 28, 2010

Book of Fires by Jane Borodale

It's the year 1752 and poor Agnes Trussel, a teenager living in the rural country side of Sussex, in in trouble. She is pregnant. What is she to do? Now that the boy has had his way with her all he does is laugh and make jokes at her expense. If she tells her parents, they will force the two teenagers to marry. She can't bear the thought of that.

Agnes comes up with a plan when she happens to find a neighbor dead whith come coins spead out in front of her. The coins are no use to a dead woman, so Agnes takes them and plans her escape to London.

Agnes has never been in London before and finds it a dirty and scarry place but she knows that she must find a way to survive. She happens upon a house that has a sign for help wanted. She knocks on the door and the man tells her that he already found somebody. However, he gives her a second look and thinks that perhaps he could use her after all. Mr. Blacklock makes fireworks and takes on Agnes as his apprentice.

As the weeks pass Agnes settles into her new life and is happy. However, she knows that she cannot conceal her pregnancy forever. Little does she know, but Mr. Blacklock has some secrets of his own.

It took me awhile to get into this book and to care for Agnes or the other characters. They just didn't have much depth to them. The story itself wasn't very beleavable. For instance, in her last triemester she tries to con a man in to marrying her and pass off the baby as his. At 7 months pregnant, I don't think so. It was very funny to me but it wasn't written to be funny.

That said, Borodale does a good job capturing 18th century life in the city and country side. I also found the pyrotechnics aspect interesting. Fireworks didn't have all of the variety of colors that they have today. They were just silver and white. Borodale certainly did her reaserch on time and place. This is Jane Borodale's first novel and she shows a lot of promise.



  1. I had pretty much the same opinion. 3 stars for me, too, and I was disappointed.

  2. I have also heard that this book isn't a knockout, which is a shame because the synopsis sounded great. I'm sorry you were disappointed with it.

  3. Lady Quinlan, It wasn't a total disappointment, it had it's moments. I think it could have been better though.

    Zibilee, I have been turning down a lot more ARC requests because I have so many but this sounded so promising. It had it's moments but it could have been better.