Set in the magical and dangerous kingdom of Ember, this is the story of ‘Twelve’ and some of her fellow trainee warriors, who have taken a pledge to guard the country and to fight on behalf of all of the clans, not to take the part of any one of them. All of the young people have hidden pasts, which have brought them to the ‘Hunting Lodge’ and which will affect how they cope with the dangers that are about to overtake them. When the Lodge is attacked and one of their number, called ‘Seven’ is captured, the trainees decide to go on a mission to try and find her. They are accompanied by the Guardian of the Lodge, a giant stone dog that comes to life when he is needed most. What follows, tests them to the limit, makes them question everything they believe in and gives them the strength to make new alliances and friends.
This story can be read a variety of levels, but at its heart we have the conflict that a young girl feels when her whole reason for living and revenge is put to the test. We also begin to understand the importance of trust; most importantly that this is a two-way process and that it is not something that is given lightly. Once we understand the horrors that Twelve has lived through, we can begin to understand her need for revenge, but we also can see that you cannot blame everyone from a group (clan) for the misdeeds of one part of the group. There is also the question on whether we can trust the evidence which points towards a culprit, as we know in real life, it is only too easy to plant the blame on people, using a range of methods. This is a story that really grows on you and I loved some of the characters, but especially the Stone Guardian. It is a fabulous middle grade read and I look forward to further adventures for this enterprising group.
Read the BfK interview with author Aisling Fowler.