Middle Grade Reviews

Review: The Fire Maker by Guy Jones

Review: The Fire Maker by Guy Jones

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Extract:

Alex looked down at the jinn. It was as if there was a thread strung between them now, invisible but real. The connection they’d almost made before was complete now. Real. 

(The Fire Maker by Guy Jones. P61.) 

 

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Synopsis:

Alex is invited to compete in the Young Magician Of The Year contest but he is certain that he isn’t good enough. These feelings aren’t helped by the bullies, and especially not by the fact one of them used to be his best friend. Then Alex is drawn to Mr Olmos’s garden by the magical fire.

Mr Olmos knows about a whole other world of fire spirits, genies and Jinn, and the people who would control their power.

Mr Olmos isn’t the only person who spots Alex’s potential. As Alex progresses through the contest, his need to feel special becomes overpowering.

A lyrical tale about friendship and responsibility.

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 Review:

A short and lyrical story with big themes.

We first see Alex as the victim of bullying, but the situation is more complex than that. He is on the end of bullying behaviour, and some of the children involved only bully him for the sport, but while he doesn’t deserve what is happening, he isn’t a blameless person. He needs to face up to things he has done and said. Bullying in fiction is too often black-and-white. Victim and persecutors. This story examines different behaviours from different people and its themes are all about how behaviour can be used to exert power and control.

The story about the fire spirits picks up on the same themes. Mr Olmos tells Alex that wherever there is power, there is someone willing to use it for their own gain, and the fire spirits have historically suffered as people have sought to control their magic. Alex pushes the spirits too far at times, wanting to know what they are capable of, but ultimately he becomes their protector and friend.

There’s a moment in the story, a revelation about one of the characters, which makes us question our own prejudices and assumptions. I don’t want to spoil this for the reader but I love it when books ask us to question why we came to a certain conclusion or viewpoint.

 I loved this book, from the magical realism which lives just out of sight from most people’s everyday lives to the themes of bullying and oppression. This is cleverly told and masterfully written. It brings a touch of magic and hope to a world in desperate need of both.

 

Thanks to Laura Smythe PR and Chicken House Books for my gifted copy of The Fire Maker. Opinions my own.

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