Every flame begins with a spark.
Blackwood Academy was supposed to be a fresh start for Ashline Wilde. A secluded boarding school deep in the heart of California’s redwood forests, three thousand miles from her old life—it sounded like the new beginning she needed after an act of unspeakable violence left a girl in her hometown dead. But Blackwood is far from the peaceful haven Ashline was searching for. Because terrifying, supernatural beasts roam the forests around campus. Because the murderer from Ashline’s hometown—her own sister—has followed her across the country. Because a group of reincarnated gods and goddesses has been mysteriously summoned to Blackwood...and Ashline’s one of them.
About the Author
Karsten Knight has been writing since the age of six, when he completed his first masterpiece: a picture book series about an adventurous worm. In the two decades that have followed, Karsten has worked as a proofreader, a bookseller, and a college admissions counselor before he finally decided that his true calling was to be a volcano goddess biographer. He lives in Boston, and for more information or to watch his video blog, visit KarstenKnight.com.
Read an Excerpt
Ashline Wilde was a human mood ring. Sixteen years old, and she was a cauldron of emotions—frothing, bubbling, and volatile. She had never heard of “bottling it all up inside.” She was as transparent as the air itself.
And as she loomed over her combatant in the dusty Scarsdale High School parking lot, it didn’t take an answer key for the gathering crowd to decipher her mood du jour.
Ashline was pissed.
Lizzie Jacobs touched her split lip and gazed with a mixture of fury and awe at her bloodstained fingertips. One right hook from Ash had laid the skinny blond girl flat out on her ass. “What the hell, Wilde?”
“What’s the matter, Elizabeth?” Ash massaged her knuckles. Goddamn, that had hurt. “You couldn’t find your own boyfriend?”
“Oh, I could.” Lizzie brushed the dirt off the seat of her designer jeans as she used the hood of a nearby car to rise to her feet. “He just happened to be yours at the time.”
A chorus of “ooh” echoed around them.
“With all the guys who come in and out of the revolving door to your Volvo’s backseat, you had to get your paws on Rich, too?” Ash asked. The crowd hollered again. Summoned by the promise of bloodshed, students flooded out of the high school’s back doors, the circle around the two girls growing thicker by the minute.
First rule of school yard fights: It didn’t matter who you cheered for, as long as someone got slapped around.
“Ashline, wait,” a deep voice called. Somewhere in the sea of hoodies and popped collars, a varsity letter jacket wormed its way through the crowd. Rich Lesley finally elbowed in to the periphery of the inner circle. He stopped dead when he caught sight of Lizzie’s bloodied face. At six-foot-four he stood a full twelve inches taller than Ashline, but he still shrank back when his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend turned around. His sandy hair bobbed as he searched for an emergency exit, but the crowd that had been so eager to let him through had now knitted together to block his escape.
It was the first time she’d seen him since Tessa had reported the horrible news to her in last-period chemistry. As Ash had stormed out midclass, she’d imagined all the awful things she would say to him, do to him even. But faced with the boy who had abruptly tossed their three months together out the window like an apple core to the freeway, she couldn’t even pretend to be anything but hurt. Maybe it was the naïveté that came with having your first real relationship, but nothing about their romance had screamed “summer fling” to Ashline. “Really, Rich?” she said finally, her voice sounding far more pathetic than she’d intended. “It’s bad enough that you cheated on me, during school . . . but Lizzie Jacobs was the best you could do?”
“Hey!” Lizzie protested from behind her.
“Shut up, bitch,” Ash said, raising a hand to silence her. “The grown-ups are talking.”
Rich shifted his tennis bag from one shoulder to the other. At one point or another every man dreamed of two women fighting over him, but this clearly wasn’t what Rich Lesley had imagined. “I don’t want to talk about this here.”
“I’m sorry,” Ash said quietly, unconsciously twisting the Claddagh ring that Rich had given her. Its heart was still pointed inward. “Is there some place quieter you had in mind to humiliate me?”
For a moment, when he tugged at the hair that was starting to grow over his ear, when his posture slouched as if he were deflating, when his feet shuffled restlessly in place, Ash thought she saw a specter of the old Rich, the same Rich she’d seen in his cellar the day his parents had announced they were getting a divorce. For a moment she felt like maybe it was just the two of them, alone again, lying in the bed of his green pickup.
But then the world around him seemed to coalesce, and the crowd snapped back into place. His eyes hardened. “The only person who’s humiliating you,” he said, “is you.” His fingers settled on the zipper of his tennis bag as if it were a holstered gun.
Ash leveled him with a stare that could harpoon a marlin from a hundred yards. She pointed at his bag. “What are you going to do, coward? Swat me with your tennis purse?”
Momentarily girded with courage, Rich turned and smirked at Reggie Butler, co-captain of the tennis team. “If only she’d been this passionate when we were dating.”
One second Ashline was standing in the middle of the circle. The next second Rich was curled in the fetal position on the ground, howling in pain, holding his tennis bag in front of him like a shield to prevent further irreparable injury to his groin.
“You have something to say too, Butler?” Ash asked.
“No, ma’am,” Reggie said, and after one glance down at his squirming friend, he defensively held up his hands. “Personally, I think he deserved it.”
“Traitor,” Rich rasped from the ground.
“Christ, Wilde.” Lizzie came up beside Ash, who had temporarily forgotten all about her. Lizzie planted her hands firmly on her hips and peered down at Rich with no particular touch of concern. “Didn’t your parents teach you any manners?”
Ever so slowly Ash rotated her head to the left, her eyes piercing out from behind her bangs.
“Ooh, right,” Lizzie said. “You’re just some crazy bush child that your parents came home from vacation with.”
Ash raised her hand and touched the skin over her cheek, at once painfully self-conscious of how her skin, the hue of earthen clay, clashed against the backdrop of her predominantly white school. She spent the better part of each day feeling like a grizzly in the polar bear cage, and now Lizzie Jacobs was poking her with a stick through the bars.
The crowd had fallen uncomfortably quiet as well. Oblivious to the silence around her, or perhaps driven by it, Lizzie wiped the blood from her still-bleeding lip. “Where do you think your parents are right now? Chanting in a circle back on Tahiti? Fishing with a spear? Or are they poking needles into a little voodoo doll, controlling you, and that’s why you’re acting like such a—”
It really wasn’t Ash’s intention to knock out anyone’s teeth during this altercation. But Lizzie hadn’t even finished her verbal portrait of Ashline’s birth parents when, in a blur, the Polynesian girl’s hands wrapped around Lizzie’s skull and threw her across the circle. The momentum carried Lizzie uncontrollably toward a familiar green pickup.
It was one of those genuine oh-shit-what-did-I-just-do moments when everything slows down. Lizzie’s face smashed into the truck’s side mirror—so hard, in fact, that the mirror snapped clean off and clattered to the ground, cracking in half on impact. Meanwhile Ash watched with a cocktail of glee and guilt-ridden horror as the light flickered behind Lizzie’s eyes and her eyelids drooped. Lizzie Jacobs was three quarters of the way to Neverland by the time she landed on the pavement, her outstretched arm mercifully providing a pillow for her head as she went down.
And there, spilling out of her mouth and onto the ground like it had just popped out of a gumball dispenser, was one of Lizzie’s incisors. One end covered in blood, it skittered across the pavement until it landed at Ashline’s feet.
“My truck!” Rich helplessly reached out to his castrated pickup.
Ash wasn’t looking at Rich or the bloody tooth in front of her. Instead the sounds of the crowd around her died away, fading into a void, replaced by a ringing in her ears. In that sliver of time Ash was frozen, looking at her split reflection in the cracked mirror.
A wind picked up from the west, and the already overcast sky instantly grew darker. The temperature plummeted to frosty levels. The short-sleeved students rubbed their exposed arms. Hoodies were zipped in unison.
Then, on that September afternoon, it began to snow.
Just a few flakes at first, carried like dancing ash by the growing west wind. But as a murmur rumbled through the crowd, the snow began to fall in blizzard proportions. Ash finally severed eye contact with her broken reflection and tilted her face to the sky, her cheeks quickly powdered by the storm. Despite her island roots, she always found the cold comforting.
“What’s going on here?” a sharp parrotlike voice screeched from the direction of the school. “You’re all blocking the fire lanes!”
The crowd shuffled to the side, letting Vice Principal Davis through to the combat zone. Mr. Davis pushed past Reggie Butler and, with no regard for where he was stepping, tripped right over Rich.
The vice principal caught himself just before he face-planted. “Mr. Lesley?” His bespectacled eyes tried to make sense of the tennis player on the ground, who still hadn’t risen and was cradling his man-bits as if they were about to run away. Then the vice principal’s gaze traveled across the circle first to Ashline, standing motionless, and then down to Lizzie Jacobs. Lizzie was just beginning to stir, her body now caked in a fresh coat of snow. As a half-human groan escaped her mouth, Ash thought she resembled a waking yeti.
The puzzle pieces clicked together, and Mr. Davis blinked twice at Ash. “Ms. Wilde?”
Ash shrugged and flashed her best attempt at an innocent smile, a look that, despite her numerous brushes with trouble, she’d failed to master. “What? I was just the referee.”
“Nice try.” Mr. Davis folded his arms over his chest. “But drama club tryouts were last week.”
Ash couldn’t meet his gaze, and looked away, as if there were a better future for her written somewhere on the pavement. Instead she found only a man-shaped cutout in the snow. Following the trail of footprints away, she spotted Rich fleeing the school grounds without his truck, his dignity trailing behind him like a string of tin cans.
“Mr. Butler,” the vice principal said to the tennis player still lingering at the scene of the crime. “If you would run in and catch Nurse Hawkins before she leaves . . . I have a feeling Ms. Jacobs will need an ice pack momentarily.”
On cue a loud grunt echoed from behind them. “My toof . . .” Lizzie moaned, sitting up. And then again louder, “My toof!” She touched her mouth in horror, and her finger explored the space where her left incisor used to be. She frantically raked her fingers through the snow, the fragment of her previously beautiful smile helplessly concealed by the white blanket on the ground. “Where is my toof?”
Meanwhile, the world war of snowball fights had erupted all around the parking lot. The silhouettes of its soldiers danced with delight through the impromptu snowstorm, using the cars as cover from the returning fire. The shrieks of mirth echoed through the eerie dark of the afternoon. A rogue volley splattered against the pleated pantleg of Mr. Davis’s khakis, and he took a hesitant step in the direction of Christian Marsh, who, with an ashen face, squealed and ran away.
But another sound overtook the school grounds. From behind the thick curtain of snow, a low rumbling picked up, an engine distinct from those of the factory-fresh cars and hand-me-downs that were slowly making their way out of the parking lot and onto the slippery streets. It was the churning rattle of a motorcycle, and even Mr. Davis, who had opened his mouth like he was about to really rip into Ashline, paused to listen. The snowball fight and the cheerful shouts of its participants faded to nothing as the sound grew louder.
Ash knew exactly who was on the back of the bike before the outline of the motorcycle emerged through the white gauze. The old Honda Nighthawk chugged threateningly as it rolled toward them, its red chassis like a spot of blood in the otherwise virgin snow.
The engine cut, and the bike drifted to a stop between Ash and her fallen adversary, who had finally located her tooth. Lizzie had it pinched between her thumb and forefinger and was squinting at it in a half-conscious daze. The arrival of the motorcycle caused her to drop it again.
The rider, cloaked in white jeans and a matching spandex shirt that made her look like a floating vision in the falling snow, dismounted the bike and plucked her helmet from her head in one smooth motion. Her short chin-length hair curved around her face into two ebony spikes that pointed forward like tusks. Her dark skin, even richer than Ash’s, betrayed her roots to an island far, far away from this suburban jungle. It was as if she and Ash had been excavated from different layers of the same clay.
The older girl glanced briefly at Lizzie Jacobs, perhaps noting the blood on her lip and the concussion-induced disorientation in her eyes. “Way to go, Little Sis.”
“What are you doing here, Eve?” Ash asked.
“Yes, Ms. Wilde, what are you doing here?” Mr. Davis echoed.
Eve pouted mockingly at her former vice principal. “Can’t a big girl check in on her wittle sister from time to time?”
Mr. Davis cleared his throat. “Not on the school grounds from which you have already been expelled.”
“Oh, please.” Eve rolled her eyes and tossed her helmet from hand to hand. “A couple of unwanted comments in biology class, and one teensy little cafeteria fistfight, and you kick a girl out of school? Hardly seems fair.”
“Three,” Mr. Davis corrected her. “Three teensy little cafeteria fistfights, and one restraining order.”
“See?” Eve exclaimed as if this proved her point. “Six months out of school, and I can’t even count straight anymore. And I was so eager to learn.”
Behind Eve, Lizzie Jacobs climbed unsteadily to her feet, tottering from side to side. She massaged her head and squinted at the new arrival. “Christ, Ash. Did you hit me hard enough that I’m seeing double? Or are there two Tahitian bitches strutting around the parking lot?”
“Lizzie, please shut up,” Ash said, this time pleading, not hostile. Eve had been missing for three months now, ever since her seventeenth birthday. But three months wasn’t nearly long enough for Ash to forget that when Eve got involved, things never failed to get out of hand.
“Didn’t you learn your lesson the first time?” Eve said over her shoulder; the peon behind her wasn’t worth the energy of turning around.
Lizzie opened her mouth to reply, but Ash darted between the two of them. She experienced a pleasurable surge of victory when Lizzie flinched, but wanted to telepathically say, I’m trying to protect you, you moron.
“Forget about this one,” Ash said to her sister. “I’ve already invested enough energy in her, and Rich Lesley isn’t worth the fight.”
“Rich Lesley?” Eve scoffed, and swept the snow out of her bangs with a flick of her hair. “That gangly tennis twerp? Baby Sis, I thought I taught you better than that. You certainly didn’t inherit your taste in men from me.”
Ash forced a laugh, waiting for the tension in the air to melt. Her mind was no longer fixated on the threat of school suspension. Now she was focused on getting Lizzie, Eve, and the vice principal to go in separate directions. Even Mr. Davis looked on edge—his fifteen years as a school administrator had no jurisdiction over the teenage blood feud he’d interrupted, at least now with Eve in play.
Mustering up all the sisterly warmth she could for a sibling who was as frightening as she was unpredictable, Ash slipped an arm around Eve’s waist and guided her back to her bike. “Let me worry about all this,” she said. “I’m just going to go inside and collect my detention slip, and then I’ll meet you back at home. We can catch up then.”
Eve narrowed her eyes, like some sort of menacing ice witch with the snow collecting on her brow. “Why? Why do you just content yourself to go along with the status quo when you know you’re intended for much greater things?” She jabbed her finger roughly on Ash’s sternum. “I know that you feel it in you, the same way I did when I gave the middle finger to this place and rode off into the sunset. Do you really feel like you belong in this Wonder Bread town? Have you ever felt like you belonged here?”
Ash dropped her eyes to the pavement.
“Then, why don’t you stop acting like you do! Do you really want to waste your time sitting for hours in some vomit-colored detention hall, just because”—Eve leveled a finger at Mr. Davis—“this miserable unmarried tyrant is angry that you”—and she pointed her thumb back at Lizzie—“showed this whorish man-stealing bottom-feeder, who has terrible split ends, a little bit of street justice?”
“Are you kidding me?” Lizzie screeched behind her.
“Shut it, cupcake,” Eve snapped. “It’s called conditioner—use it sometime.”
Mr. Davis took a step toward Eve and pointed to her motorcycle. “You have sixty seconds to leave school grounds.” He tapped his imaginary watch.
“Just go home,” Ash said to her sister, more firmly this time. “I can take care of myself.”
The wind picked up with increasing ferocity from the west. Ash’s hair billowed around her like a sail. Eve held out the biker’s helmet. “Get on the bike, Ash,” she ordered her sister. “I’m not leaving this parking lot without you. It’s for your own good.”
“No,” Ash replied.
“Get on the back of the damn bike!” Eve growled. Her face contorted with such vicious lines that even Mr. Davis took a few steps back. “Get on the bike, or so help me . . .”
Ash was summoning the courage to refuse a second time when fate—in the form of Lizzie Jacobs’s stupidity—intervened. The blond girl snorted behind Eve. “I guess I wasn’t off target when I said that crazy runs in the family. But I can’t really blame you, Ash. If my older sister was a motorcycle-riding Antichrist, I guess I’d be a little rough around the edges too.”
The wind died, and the only sound that could be heard throughout the parking lot was the distant call of thunder. Mr. Davis held his breath, frozen somewhere between mediating and wetting himself. Eve’s eyes were still fixed with smoldering fire on her little sister, and for one blessed, relief-filled instant Ash actually thought Eve was going to let the comment slide.
Everything happened so fast. Eve whirled around like an Olympic discus thrower and, with her arm extended, smashed Lizzie Jacobs in the face with her motorcycle helmet. The already dazed sophomore spun around in an ugly pirouette on one foot, before collapsing to the pavement again, for the third and last time.
The onset of violence spurred Mr. Davis back into action. “I’m calling the police,” he said, and his cell phone was already in his hand by the time he knelt down at Lizzie’s side.
A vicious smile spread across Eve’s face, and she stepped forward so that she loomed over Lizzie. “I don’t know if it will be an improvement, but there’s certainly nothing I could have done to your face to make it any worse. Sweet dreams.” Eve flipped the helmet around in her hands. “Hopefully I knocked out another tooth and she’ll be symmetrical now.” She turned back to her sister, expecting Ash to look equally pleased.
But Ash had tears in her eyes. “Why do you always do this?” she whispered. “You couldn’t have just come back to see me. You had to make it about destruction. It’s always about destroying something.”
Eve stalked over to her with such intensity that for a split second Ash thought she might suffer the same fate as Lizzie. Eve leaned menacingly down so that she came nose-to-nose with her shorter sister. The familiar tang of cinnamon and patchouli washed over Ash as Eve exhaled. “You hit her and it’s retaliation and self-defense. I hit her and it’s destruction. Where do you get off making that distinction?”
Ash held her ground. “Because I don’t enjoy it.”
Eve sneered and gave her sister one more look up and down. “Keep telling yourself that.” She backed away and straddled the Nighthawk, her face livid with disgust as if the pavement were covered with rotting eggs. “Last chance. Are you getting on the back of this bike, or are you going to stay here in Pleasantville?”
Ash didn’t have the strength to reply. She could only shake her head.
Eve popped the helmet onto her head, and the motorcycle grumbled to life, mimicking the thunder in the clouds. “Grow up, Ash,” Eve said, her voice muffled behind the helmet. Ash caught her own tattered-looking reflection in the dark visor before the motorcycle and its rider zipped off over the snow, the back tire fishtailing out as she rounded the corner.
Ash crouched down beside Lizzie. The girl’s left cheek was turning purple, on its way toward a nasty bruise, and her eyelids were just starting to flutter open as she struggled to wake up from the second concussion. Ash was only vaguely aware of Lizzie moaning and stirring; of Mr. Davis’s panicked footfalls as he paced restlessly, waiting for help to arrive; of the distant wail of the approaching ambulance.
Instead she channeled all of her attention into listening for the whisper that each snowflake made when it touched the ground. But no matter how hard she tried to concentrate on this impossible task, she couldn’t shake the awful vision she’d seen as Eve had ridden off school grounds.
For one haunting moment, seeing her reflection in Eve’s helmet, it had looked as if it were Ashline riding away on that motorcycle, a path of carnage and ill intentions in her wake.
When Ash arrived home after her meeting with Vice Principal Davis, the police cruiser was already waiting in the driveway. The female officer sitting inside the house with her parents looked alert and self-important, stoked at the prospect of finally being able to dispense some sweet justice. Ash couldn’t particularly blame her. With Scarsdale, New York having one of the lowest crime rates in the country, the cops rarely saw much excitement beyond serving tickets to drivers who tried to beat the light, or chasing high teenagers through the woods behind the school. The opportunity to serve a warrant for the arrest of a “dangerous outlaw” like Ash’s sister was a welcome change of pace.
Of course Eve was nowhere to be found when the officer arrived. If Ash knew her sister, she was probably halfway to Buffalo on her motorcycle by now. It could be months before they heard from her again—if at all.
After the officer departed, Ashline sat on the stairs with her knees hugged to her chest. Through the wrought iron balustrade, which felt like prison bars, she watched her father pull on his boots and her mother rifle through the closet. The Wildes, true to their endless fountain of good intentions, had decided to take the blue Rav4 to, hopelessly, search for Eve in the freezing rain. As terrible as it had been for the police to present them with Eve’s arrest warrant, it had been a bittersweet reminder that after three months without so much as a phone call or postcard, their delinquent daughter was still alive.
From this angle, under the hallway chandelier, Ashline could see how peppered with gray Thomas Wilde’s hair had grown over the last few months. Over the years, Ash had always remained oblivious to the gradual signs of aging shown by either of her adoptive parents. She even sometimes joked that since she and Eve had lived in the Wilde house all their lives, maybe they would inherit the good Wilde genes through osmosis. But in comparison to her father’s image in the large family portrait over the stairs, taken barely a year after the adoption, when Ash was only a toddler, it looked now as though the last fifteen years had finally ambushed the patriarch of the Wilde family.
Her father scooped his keys off the foyer table and then fished around in the pockets of his khakis for the fourth time. “Wallet, wallet . . .”
“Dad,” Ash called down to him. “Back pocket.” She pointed to the lump on the back side of his khakis, and his panicked expression softened a few degrees as his hand settled on the billfold.
“You know, Ashline . . .” He slipped on his leather coat, which Ash had given him for his fiftieth birthday. “We could use a third pair of eyes out on the road. Your grounding doesn’t have to start until afterward.”
Ashline’s hands tightened around the balusters. “Thanks, but I’ll gladly opt for house arrest over ‘search party of three’ in the rain.”
Her father stepped over to the staircase so that they were face-to-face through the balustrade. “No one’s saying Eve hasn’t made enough mistakes for ten childhoods. But she was always a good sister to you.”
There was some truth to that. Even after the poison of adolescence had set in and Eve had slowly grown carcinogenic to the people around her—her classmates, her friends, and eventually her parents—she had always retained her loyalty to Ashline. On days when Ash had returned home from school feeling trampled and downtrodden, she could always expect to find Eve in her bedroom doorway soon after. Some days Eve would even invade their mother’s liquor cabinet and have two mint juleps mixed and waiting for Ashline’s arrival home. The older they got, the more Ash could count on Eve to sense her moods from a distance, like a change in the wind.
That is, until Eve disappeared.
Ashline stood up. “Good sisters don’t leave in the first place. They don’t make their little sisters hang up missing-person flyers on every telephone pole from Brooklyn to Albany . . . like she was some sort of lost dog.” She started up the steps toward her room. “I’ll be damned if I do it again.”
Ash stopped. This time it was her mother, perched on the bottom stair.
“Ashline, please,” her mother repeated.
Ash opened her mouth to say no, but then she spotted the jacket clutched in Gloria Wilde’s hand. “What is that?” Ash demanded.
Her mother held it up. It was the orange and silver warm-up jacket that Eve had worn when she’d still been a gymnast. Ash hadn’t seen her wear it since she was thirteen, and it was at least a few years past fitting her.
“I thought I’d bring it,” her mother said slowly. “In case she was cold.”
Ashline didn’t know if it was the way the jacket trembled in her mother’s hands or the pleading look that she gave Ash, as if Ash were the only one who could bring her sister back. But she walked down the stairs, opened the closet door, and pulled out her own winter coat. “Here.” She delicately replaced the warm-up in her mother’s hand with the wool peacoat. “This will probably fit her better.”
Her mother pecked her on the cheek. Ash was grateful that her mother didn’t cry until she was out the front door and walking to the car.
Ash stood at the glass door for a minute, until the red taillights of the car disappeared beyond the trees that framed their yard. No doubt her parents would stop at every diner, gas station, and motel they could find within a fifteen-mile radius.
Just like last time, they wouldn’t find her.
Curled up in her bedroom window seat with the lights off, Ash watched the rain splatter against the glass. For the second time that day, the weather matched her mood precisely—first the freak afternoon snowstorm, and now this midnight thundershower. She left the window open just a crack so that the patter of raindrops against the leaves could wash over her. She hoped she could cull some sense of relaxation out of the white noise, be cleansed by it, but Eve’s absence and her own weeklong suspension loomed over her instead.
Isolation. Ashline knew that being confined to the four cranberry-colored walls of her bedroom for the next month wasn’t the end of the world. The truth was that even if she had her run of the town she would still be numbingly alone. What few friends she had retained from middle school she’d lost quickly during the brutal transition from freshman to sophomore year. She’d been replaced like an old tube of mascara when the social tectonic plates had made their great shift. Rich Lesley, despite all his visible egocentricity, had served as a much-needed bandage, bringing with him an entourage of substitute friends in the form of his fellow tennis players and their plus-ones. But now the bandage had been ripped off with a single flick of the wrist—or, in this case, Lizzie Jacobs’s tongue—and the wound of loneliness had sprung open anew.
And when romances and friendships went to hell, weren’t you supposed to fall back on family? She scoffed. If family was supposed to be her safety net as she walked the tightrope of life, then Ashline’s “support system” currently consisted of two parents appalled by the life choices of their children, and a sister who was wanted for assault and battery.
Ash sighed and opened her window wider. Moisture spattered her face as the raindrops splashed through the screen. It felt good just to feel anything at this point. Considering that she had knocked out one of Lizzie’s teeth, there certainly were worse fates than a school suspension and a substantial grounding at home, but the loneliness was settling in.
In hopes of finding someone to call—anyone—Ash scrolled through three quarters of her cell phone’s contact list before she resigned herself to the fact that all her “friends” were mutual through Rich. They were unlikely to be sympathetic, and even less likely to pick up the phone at all. With a growl Ash heaved the phone across the room. It landed, skittered, and remarkably remained intact even as it crashed into her metal wastebasket with a defeated clink.
Soon her adrenaline levels faded, and Ashline’s eyes fluttered closed. She hugged her knees to her chest and placed her head near the window as she drifted off, lulled to slumber by the kiss of the raindrops against her cheek.
She hadn’t been asleep more than five minutes when the sound of female laughter echoed in through the window from the front yard.
Ashline’s eyes shot open. “Eve?” she said aloud, and peered through the window. The rain still came down in a steady drizzle, but she could see a silhouette at the end of the driveway, obscured in the darkness of the trees. “Eve?” she repeated.
But then she heard a chorus of giggles and discerned two additional shadows darting among the bushes that lined the front walkway. It was the excited chatter of girls reveling in the thrill of doing something illicit and enjoying it far too much. And as one of the girls stepped into the halo of light from the nearest streetlamp, Ash caught sight of her battered but unmistakable mug.
As her vision adjusted to the dark, Ash observed that Lizzie was carrying something—a field hockey stick—that she tossed playfully from hand to hand. If Ashline’s ears could be trusted, then Lizzie’s partners in crime were her teammates Gabby and Alexis.
They probably weren’t there to sell Girl Scout cookies.
With a shout of glee Lizzie pranced up to the Wildes’ mailbox, an old wooden bird feeder that Ashline’s mother had refashioned with a hinge door and repainted in pastels. Lizzie wheeled around, and the club end of the hockey stick struck the mailbox with a sharp crack that resounded across the yard. Channeling all of her rage from being knocked out twice in the same day, Lizzie made quick work of the refurbished bird feeder. Again and again her weapon came down, splintering the wood. Finally Lizzie launched a fierce kick that separated the mailbox from its post, and the already devastated bird feeder crashed to the driveway pavement.
Gabby joined Lizzie in dancing around the fallen mailbox, but Alexis lingered back.
Ash undid the clasps holding the screen window in place and pushed. It swung up and out, and she leaned out the window as far as she could without falling to the bushes below. If she filtered out the whisper of the rain against the leaves, she could just make out what the girls were saying.
Alexis kept looking frantically in the direction of the road. “Let’s get out of here,” the redheaded freshman pleaded to her friends. “The neighbors probably heard that.”
“Oh, grow some balls, Lexi,” Gabby said. “My mom just texted me to say the Wildes came by the inn looking for Eve. Nobody’s home here.”
Lizzie tipped her field hockey stick up on to her shoulder like a soldier cradling her rifle. “I haven’t even begun to claim my revenge yet,” she said. “The Wilde girls brought this on themselves.”
“Ash and Eve both deserve the worst,” Alexis agreed, tugging nervously at her hair. “I just want to make sure I don’t get booted off the team if we get caught. And besides, their parents live here too.”
“Their parents,” Lizzie snapped, “clearly raised two out-of-control self-entitled daughters from hell. They should be grateful that my dad is a dentist and I don’t need to sue.” She stepped forward and prodded Alexis roughly with her finger. “This is a mandatory team bonding experience, and if you bail now, I’ll make sure Coach glues your ass to the bench this season. So what’s it going to be?”
After a period of silence during which she glanced between the two older girls, Alexis shrugged in consent. “Okay, okay. Let’s just get in and out before the police show up.”
With that the girls disappeared out of Ashline’s view, vanishing somewhere in the direction of the garage. Ash cast a hesitant look at her cell phone, where it had landed next to the wastebasket. The smart thing would be to call the police. But curiosity overpowered reason, and this coupled with an intense desire to defend her house from the would-be intruders, so she picked up the phone, flipped it to silent, and dropped it into her pocket.
Ash ditched her moccasins and tiptoed out of the room, letting her socks mask her footsteps. Before she headed down the stairs, on a whim she grabbed a bottle of aerosol hair spray from the bathroom, wielding it in front of her like a gun.
When she reached the bottom of the stairs, she could hear the faint sound of giggling from the side of the house. Across the living room three shadows flickered past the windows, accompanied by a faint grating as one of the girls dragged her hockey stick along the siding. They were heading toward the backyard.
As soon as Ash heard their footsteps travel across the stone patio, she ducked behind the kitchen counter so they wouldn’t catch a glimpse of her through the slider door. She wasn’t ready to forfeit her element of surprise just yet. The motion-sensitive lights in the backyard buzzed on, projecting two silhouettes through the window and onto the back wall; so somebody had remained on the side of the house.
On her hands and knees Ash crawled across the floor until she reached the door that opened out into the side yard. With one hand perched on the doorknob and the other still clutching her can of hair spray, she gave herself a once-over and realized that her rabbit-covered pajama bottoms and pink tank top weren’t doing much to up her intimidation factor. Nothing she could do about that now . . . and getting caught should be enough to startle the mischievous girls.
Ash counted to three and marched out into the yard with cool intensity. The murmur of the heavy drizzle against the grass buffered the creak of the opening door, and for a few seconds Alexis remained oblivious to the angry girl crossing the yard toward her. She sat at the picnic table, a can of spray paint in one hand and her field hockey stick across her lap. She wore a miserable pout and was visibly sickened, either by the thought of spraying graffiti on the wall in front of her or because she was now soaked to the bone outside instead of tucked into her safe, dry bed.
Ash stopped a good five yards from Alexis, who with a flinch finally realized she was no longer alone. She was so startled that she fell off the picnic table, landing on her back in the muddy grass.
“You don’t want to be here,” Ash whispered to her, and pointed back toward Baker Lane. “I’ll give you five seconds to pick your sorry ass up off my lawn and run home. But you better run. One—”
Ash hadn’t even counted to two when the timid freshman pounced to her feet like a gazelle with a lion in hungry pursuit. She barreled off across the lawn, abandoning both her field hockey stick and her can of paint in the grass. If she showed that kind of speed on the hockey field, Ash thought, she needn’t worry about riding the bench this season. Ash wriggled with enjoyment watching Alexis stumble and fall to her knees in a huge puddle, before she reached the sidewalk and sprinted off into the night. There was a good possibility Alexis would either wet herself or throw up by the time she got home. Maybe both.
One down, Ash thought. She scooped up Alexis’s forgotten can of paint and tucked it into her waistband. And then she rounded the corner of the house.
In the backyard Ash found only one of the two remaining girls. Crouched on the patio tiles, Gabby was just wrapping up a graffiti portrait on the back wall—an enormous drawing of a penis. The field hockey co-captain had just begun to scrawl Ashline’s name beneath it. She’d made it only halfway through the h. She cursed and shook her can vigorously, but only air came out of the nozzle as she tried to complete the name.
“Damn it,” Gabby mumbled, and then she heard Ashline’s footsteps approaching across the patio. Mistaking Ashline for her teammate, she didn’t look up from her masterpiece but said, “I’m out of paint, Lexi. Can I borrow your can? It won’t have the same effect if it looks like I just wrote ‘ass.’”
Ash stopped right next to Gabby and leaned over. Gabby must have finally caught sight of Ashline’s socks and rabbit pajamas, because she snapped her head around in horror. “Sure,” Ash replied. “I’ll give you a spray.”
She let loose a long blast of hair spray past Gabby’s eyes, purposely just missing her face. Gabby shrieked anyway and dropped onto her back like a turtle. The spray can rolled out of her hand and across the patio.
Clutching her eyes, which began to stream with tears, Gabby fumbled onto her knees. But Ash seized hold of her letter jacket before Gabby could get too far, and heaved her off the patio and into the mud.
Ash knelt over Gabby and held her firmly by the lapel, bringing the other girl’s face toward hers until they were nose to nose. “I don’t give a rat’s ass about you, Gabby Perkins. So I’m going to do you a favor. Tell me where Lizzie is, and I’ll let you stumble out of here. I won’t call the cops, and when I pass you in the halls from now on, this didn’t happen.”
Gabby gazed up at her with bleary eyes, blinking furiously. And then she resignedly pointed up toward the roof.
Ash snorted. “Is this what you call team loyalty?” She released the girl and pushed her back into the mud. “Now get the hell out of my yard.”
Gabby cast a last torn look at the roof, toward the teammate she was leaving behind. And then she took off—if it were possible, even more quickly than Alexis had departed minutes earlier.
It took only a few seconds for Ashline to figure out how Lizzie had made her way to the roof. Ash had to give her credit. Either the girl had tremendous cojones or she just hated the Wilde family so much that she was willing to throw caution to the wind. At the corner of the house was a trellis, a crisscross pattern of woodwork that Ashline’s parents used as a clutching board for their Boston ivy. It was actually Ash’s favorite part of the house, and she enjoyed reading under it during the spring and summer months.
Clearly her enemy had used it as a ladder to climb onto the roof. Now Ash was going to have to as well.
Ash slipped off her wet socks and cast them onto the patio before she approached the trellis. She slipped her fingers through the square holes and rattled it a few times to make sure it was firmly attached to the wall. And then she began her ascent.
It occurred to Ash as she climbed that she was just as crazy as Lizzie to be following her up to the roof. The holes in the trellis were tiny and didn’t offer proper footholds, and her bare feet kept slipping off. More than once she found herself dangling by her hands alone. The whole wooden structure was slick with rain—not to mention the snow from earlier—and felt slimy to the touch, as if it were covered with algae. Every time Ash reached for a new handhold, she half-expected the wood to have rotted away and the trellis to break off in her hand.
And so it was to Ashline’s relieved surprise that she clambered over the gutter and onto the roof shingles without having broken a leg or dropped onto the patio stones twenty feet below. Lizzie was nowhere in sight. Using her hands and feet, Ash cautiously crawled up the treacherous, slippery slope, over the summit of the A-frame roof, and onto the side facing the street.
Lizzie, who was at the other end of the roof and had her back to Ashline, was concluding work on the exclamation point in “SLUT!” She had painted the word in eight-foot-tall letters on the shingles, more than large enough to be read by passersby on the street, possibly by the passengers of low-altitude airplanes as well. The rain had caused some of the paint to ooze toward the gutter like runny eggs. Lizzie was already done with her first draft, but had apparently decided that the letters were neither wide nor bold enough to sate her thirst for retribution.
Ash plucked her own bottle of spray paint from her waistband and clambered down the roof. “Let me help you with the dot on that exclamation point,” Ash said, and before Lizzie could turn around, Ash fired a stream of paint onto the back of Lizzie’s checkered London trench coat. By the time Lizzie could shy away, Ash had tagged her with a slime green bull’s-eye.
Lizzie extended her spray paint arm, as if the electric blue paint would protect her somehow. Her cheeks and eyes were a swollen mess of black and violet and blue and tinges of green where Ash and Eve had made a Jackson Pollock painting of her face.
Ash smiled acidly. “I figured I’d tag you, so that animal control would know that there’s a bitch on the loose.”
With a growl Lizzie stripped off the now destroyed coat and tossed it off the roof. “That was my favorite Burberry!”
Ash shrugged. “This was my favorite roof.”
“What are you going to do? Push me off it?” Lizzie asked, trying to sound fierce, but Ash caught her glancing nervously to the ground below.
“No.” Ash chucked the spray paint can to the side and took a deep breath, trying to quell the flames that this girl was so talented at fanning. “All I want is for you to go home. We don’t have to be friends at school, or even civil in the hallway. I don’t want to borrow your algebra homework, and I don’t expect you to come over and braid my hair while we watch VH1. I just want to go sit in my room alone, wait out my suspension, and forget this bullshit ever happened.”
“Don’t act like you didn’t bring this on yourself,” Lizzie said, though she sounded like she only half-believed it. “I’m not the villain here.”
Ash bowed her head. “I don’t know who deserves what anymore. I just know that all this”—she gestured around, to the roof, then to Lizzie’s bruised face—“isn’t worth a lowlife like Rich Lesley.”
Lizzie wiped the rain from her eyes and looked up to the heavens. The rain seemed to be coming down with renewed intensity, working its way from a drizzle up to a full-blown downpour. The girls regarded each other coolly in the rain. They were far from establishing a rapport but were perhaps coming to a truce, neither one fully understanding the events that had brought them up onto this slippery roof in the dead of a stormy night.
“So that’s it?” Lizzie said. “I just head home, you don’t call the cops. I don’t sue you for knocking out my tooth, and we don’t speak of this again?”
“I’m afraid it’s not that easy,” another voice shouted through the rain.
Lightning flashed over the trees in the backyard, illuminating the dark figure straddling the summit of the house—Eve. With vicious grace Eve slid down the shingles until she came to a stop behind Lizzie. Before the field hockey captain could react, Eve wrapped her fingers around the sophomore’s neck and squeezed.
With superhuman strength Eve lifted Lizzie Jacobs off the roof. There, with her eyes bulging and her blotchy bruises darkening to a more sickening shade, Lizzie dangled helplessly, with her toes flailing a full foot from safe harbor.
“This is the last time you screw with the Wilde sisters,” Eve said to the girl clutched in her talons.
“Put her down, Eve,” Ash ordered. “Everything will be okay. Lizzie will drop the charges against you. Won’t you, Lizzie?”
Lizzie was attempting to pry Eve’s hands off her throat, her face all the while turning crimson, but she managed a single frantic nod in response.
“Too late,” Eve said to her sister, and hoisted the field hockey player higher. “This is bigger than the law now. This is about respect.” Eve narrowed her eyes at Lizzie. “You should have learned your lesson the first time.”
In that moment a number of things happened. A strange sensation blossomed in Ashline’s stomach, the feeling of an approaching fall as if she were cresting the hill of a roller coaster. Her ears clicked, once, twice, and then there was a series of rapid clicks; she experienced the same phenomenon every time she traveled by airplane. The pressure around them on the roof was plummeting at an alarming rate.
Most frightening of all, the hair on Lizzie’s head stood upright. Ash watched as each of the girl’s wet strands of hair rose skyward, pointing up at the hidden moon, until a circular mane of blond hair had surrounded her face like the rays of a Mayan sun. Static electricity visibly crackled everywhere—through the ends of her blond locks, between her fingertips, from the tops to the bottoms of her eyelashes.
Ash took a frightened step back. “Eve, are you . . . are you doing this?”
But when Eve turned to look at Ash, her eyes shone fluorescent white, and the smile on her face told Ash everything she needed to know.
“Didn’t your parents tell you not to play outdoors during a thunderstorm?” Eve taunted the girl in her clutches. “You might just find yourself playing the lightning rod.”
With a crackle from above as if the fabric of heaven itself were tearing in half, Lizzie’s head snapped back, and a bolt of lightning shot from her mouth up into the clouds. The flash was blinding. Ash had to throw her hands up to protect her face as the air around them heated so rapidly that the moisture on the rain-slick roof evaporated into a mist. But through the slats in her fingers, Ash could only watch, petrified, as Lizzie’s body shuddered violently, her arms and legs rigid out to either side.
Then, as soon as the lightning had come, it was gone. The mist cleared and Eve dropped Lizzie’s lifeless body to the roof. Lizzie rolled limply down the slope of the A-frame, followed by a trail of smoke from where the lightning had burned holes in her tank top. Her body reached the gutter and dropped to the grass below.
“Oh my God.” Ash covered her mouth. “You killed her.”
Eve had been admiring the spot where Lizzie’s body had tumbled off the roof, dreamily appreciating her own handiwork, but Ashline’s voice snapped her out of it. Her fluorescent eyes blazed when she turned to face her sister. “You’re defending that monster?”
“Monster?” Ash repeated. She searched Eve’s face for any sign of the sister she once knew. “Eve, that monster made out with my asshole ex-boyfriend. For something like that you put peanut butter between the pages of her textbooks or . . . or spread a rumor that she has herpes. You don’t . . . you don’t . . .” But she couldn’t finish the sentence because her nose had discovered the scent of burned flesh. She gagged.
“I wouldn’t even know the name Lizzie Jacobs if you hadn’t gone and punched her in the face!” Eve shouted. “Here,” she said, and dipped her hand into the paint of the T in “SLUT!” Eve drew a line of the electric green paint across her own cheek. Then she crossed the roof in three long strides and smeared the paint on Ashline’s bare shoulder and down her arm. “Now neither of us is clean of this. Now her blood is on you, too.”
Ash touched two fingers to the paint and held it in front of her face, just as Lizzie had done with her own blood that very morning after Ash had punched her in the mouth. I did this, she realized. I did this. But when she opened her mouth to say it out loud, what came out instead was, “Why did you have to come back now?”
Eve’s face softened, and the afterglow behind her eyes flickered and dimmed gently like a firefly dying in the night. When she spoke, Ash could hear some phantom affection of the Eve who years ago would walk her to the playground when their parents were working late at the practice. “I came back to Scarsdale for you, Ash. To tell my baby sister all the places I’ve been.”
“Yeah,” Ashline muttered. “And now I’m chock-full of answers.”
Eve gestured to the road with a big sweep of her arm. The rain had picked up again. “You think I was really out on the road all these months? While you were canoodling with Rich Lesley, I was traveling to a place you can only dream of. I can take you there too, Ash. We can find out what gifts you have waiting for you in here.” She pressed a finger to Ashline’s chest. A trail of sparks blossomed beneath her touch. “Let me and my friends help you unlock it. Let us show you that we were all meant for a greater destiny.”
Ash gritted her teeth, trembling as she gazed up at her taller sister. “I will never go with you,” she said. And before she could think better of it, she added, “You freak.”
Eve’s hand shot up and fixed itself around Ash’s face, squeezing until Ash felt like her jaw was going to pop loose. A screech erupted from the back of Eve’s throat. She cocked her other hand back and then struck her sister so hard that Ash went tumbling across the roof. Disoriented and picking up speed, Ash attempted to reach out and grab the gutter.
The next thing she knew, the world had opened up underneath her and she was twisting and falling. After a stomach-churning plummet, Ash hit the ground back-first so hard that she thought her head would break right off her body and roll into the street.
Everything went still. She lay there, unmoving, watching the troubled night clouds billowing overhead, like the writhing gray matter of a brain come to life. Her vision grew bleary as a pool of rain and tears filled her eyes in a thickening sheen. There was a thud in the grass somewhere next to her, and the blurred image of Eve appeared in the foreground.
“I thought family meant something to you,” Eve said. She spit on the ground next to Ash’s face. “You are no sister of mine. Don’t come looking for me.”
Perhaps it was Ash’s increasingly soggy vision, but in the moments that followed, it appeared as if the wind itself swept down from the trees and whisked Eve’s body away.
A few dazed minutes passed before Ash had the presence of mind to pull her cell phone from her waterlogged pocket. She dialed 9-1-1, mumbled her address, and then dropped the phone into the mud, while the tinny voice of the dispatcher asked repeatedly for the nature of her emergency.
Even as the sirens picked up from the south, even as the red and whites flickered over the lawn soon after, Ash lay still in the grass, letting the rain cascade down around her, hoping her mind would take her some place—any place—other than here on the lawn with a dead girl.
© 2011 Karsten Knight
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Let me start off by saying what I like about Wildefire: -The diversity is fantastic. That line in the description that says "group of gods and goddesses" does not lie. They are a group of gods and goddesses from all over the world, meaning that each person in the group is a different ethnicity. I loved it, and wish there was more of this in other books I read. -The conversation flows nicely, is very funny, and sounds like conversation of real teenagers. -The main character, Ash, is not whiny and swoony. She's sarcastic and headstrong, and knows how to handle herself. -Eve, the evil sister. She is my favorite character, and I love what happened every time she showed up to make life interesting. Now for the negatives: -First and foremost: not a lot happens until the last five or so chapters. There is so much set-up going on, classes, drinking, school activities, and other stuff that happens besides the main plot, that I was ready to give up on reading halfway through. I did push on though, and had an awesome surprise after a seemingly random conversation became the turning point in the book. It was the last sentence of this conversation that made me say: "oh, dang!" ...and I knew it was about to get really good. And it did. Karsten's plot in that last part of the book was killer! -The characters could have all been the same person...with a few exceptions. For most of the book, they have the exact same sense of humor and the same types of jokes and comebacks. Any one of them could speak another's line and I wouldn't know because none of them have enough of their own voice, besides Eve. -Teenage girl dating much older and completely random forest ranger who is clingy and shady from the beginning = not a good idea. And that's not a spoiler for the plot...It's just safety 101. -I know there are debates about whether or not this is a valid complaint, but my opinion is firm: Ash is way too violent for my tastes. I don't mind her sarcastic attitude and rough exterior at all. It's quite refreshing not to have a timid and swooning character. But it seems she can't be sarcastic and headstrong and know how to handle herself, without getting physical all the time; she hits people for the smallest reasons, knocks some characters down without a thought, and threatens and even assaults her own friends and boyfriend(s). What person--who wants to keep her friends and boyfriend, at least--does that? I get that she's a goddess, who could technically be prone to violence. But she rejects another character because she's too violent, yet here she is being violent herself...towards her friends! Not to mention that the other gods and goddesses (including the mighty god of thunder) seem to have a lock on their outbursts of anger. And the fact that she's Polynesian does not at all explain the reason for her angry bursts (as one reviewer tried to claim), so I am left eternally wondering about it. Lastly: There are unrealistic consequences happens, unless Eve does it. One example: The principal of the school timidly stands by and watches a girl get knocked down by two different people, while mentally wagging a finger and threatening to call the police. One got an arrest warrant afterward, and one only got a week suspension. Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Life is tough enough when you're adopted, your trouble-maker sister is expelled and runs away, and you look different from everyone at your school. Then your boyfriend cheats on you, you lose your temper, throw a few punches, your sister appears out of nowhere, and . you decide you need a fresh start at a boarding school where you discover your mood swings are more powerful than you thought. Ashline Wilde-Volcano Goddess. Karsten Knight does a great job of mixing folklore and legend across cultures. It reminded me of a cross between Harry Potter and X-Men. The language does get crude at times and there are some sexual situations. I still think it's a great story and Knight is a talented writer. I would definitely recommend this book and hope to see more from this author. I won this free ARC from Simon and Schuster.
I love reading books with elements of mythology and this one was especially good because instead of just using gods and goddesses from Roman and Greek mythology Karsten used other less typical gods and goddesses from various cultures which I loved, it made the story more original and different. I talk a lot on here about Kick-Ass female characters and there are some definite ones in Wildefire!! With the combination of Ash, Eve, and Raja there is a whole new team of Kick-Ass characters! I loved all of the characters in this book, they were all so different and brought their own unique personality to the story. I have to say one of my favorite parts in this book was the flashbacks, it was a way of getting to know the characters in a more sensory way. Being able to be inside other characters heads for those crucial moments in their lives really brought them more to life and made me understand their motivations and personalities even more. I have one more thing to say and that is. SERIOUSLY Karsten?!?!? The ending is very, very cliffhanger full. I am ok with it only because the rest of the book was so good. An amazing book filled with kick ass characters and an interesting plot, don't miss this awesome debut!
Couldn't put it down! Amazing characters and storyline. Highly recommended!
Wildfire is a creative and interesting twist of mythology. Pulling the readers through a story of reincarnation and supernatural power will keep readers on the edge of their seat. The story of Eve and Ash is terribly soul shattering read previewing the reality of how greed and power can create a monster even in the ones we love. Knight includes a variety of mythological gods and goddess in this novel that will educate the reader while taking this exciting journey. The conclusion offers a twist that promises for an exciting sequel that readers will crave. Wildfire is a BookWhisperer recommend definitely worth reading.
For as long as I can remember mythology has always fascinated me. Perhaps that is why I am so very involved with weaving tales of my own that could some day go down in history. The way people just clung to that as their religion, the different pantheons that still have so many similarities while remaining vastly different. I have gravitated to the heroic adventures and heartbreaking romances that fill the pages, the troublesom pranksters and the gods/goddesss that are not as well known. I think one of my favorite aspects of this book was the fact that it didn't focus solely on one pantheon, and unlike the stance most mythological books take, it didn't focus on the Greek immortals. I also liked the fact that they said that they were not immortal, but that they lived and died like everyone else. The only difference was that they were brought back each life time. It made me wonder if, like she pondered her self in the book, if we are brought back and if we do find ourselves caught in the same endless cycle of either ruin or success as the life time before. I enjoyed the twists through out the book, the detail that captivated my attention and kept me coming back for more. Mostly, I enjoyed the emotion put behind each of the charcahters and that it wasn't a happy ending, nor a sad ending, it was a bitter sweet. I am deffinatly ready for a sequel and intend to buy this book myself to add to my collection. QuoteS: " There are two types of people in this world Ashline.' the headmistress said. ' Those of us who fear what we cannot control, who sit in the drivers sear of life and take charge of our own fates. And then there are those who fear choise, those so burdend by the mistakes that they've made that they seek solace in what they cannot control knowing that no matter the outcome, at least it wasn't their fault."
**I received this book for free through Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab program** Review: How could I not read this book? Everywhere I looked I kept seeing people gushing about how good it was, so I had to see for myself. We first meet the main character, Ashline "Ash" Wilde on a very bad day. She just found out her boyfriend was messing around on her with another girl. Plus her erratic and volatile sister, Eve, has returned and promises to stir up all kinds of trouble. The situation quickly turns deadly (and I mean that literally) and Ash feels there is no other choice but to run away to a private school and try to start over. There, things start looking up and she has so many things going for her; the past is finally behind her, gone but not forgotten. After a series of strange occurrences, it is revealed to Ash and a few of her fellow classmates that they are, in fact, reincarnated gods and goddesses. As hard as it is to believe, they can't explain away their unique talents. They are told that they each have a specific task that only they may know about and that it is up to them to save the world. Just when it seems life couldn't get any more difficult, Eve decides to show back up to cause trouble. Will Ash and her friends be able to fulfill their destinies or will the world be destroyed? 1) Character Development: Ash is definitely one tough chick. I like how she's so sarcastic and witty, refusing to take crap from anyone. I have to admit though, at first Ash's personality rubbed me the wrong way; she was always acting so tough and sarcastic that it bordered on annoying at times. After a few chapters though I really grew to love her snarky attitude and that's when my feelings on the book as a whole pretty much changed. There are so many incredible secondary characters that are so important to this book. First we have Ash's older sister, Eve. Destruction and mayhem usually ensue whenever Eve shows up. I completely understood Ash's conflicting emotions when it came to her sister. On one hand, Eve always managed to cause a lot of damage or do some evil deed which made Ash hate her. On the other hand, Eve is the only blood family member that Ash has left, since they were both adopted when they were very young. Very big struggle between sticking with family and doing what's right. Then we have Serena, a blind girl who first alerts the other teens to their real identities; she herself being supernatural, her purpose is to bring all of these people together in hopes of saving the world. There are four other students from this private school who find out that they too are gods/goddesses: Ade, Raja, Rolfe, and Lily. They each have different, spectacular powers and I enjoyed reading about when they first used those powers. Each story was very unique, but I'll let you read the book to find out for yourself. 2) The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: First, The Good - Above all else, I loved the characters. Like I said previously, I wasn't a huge fan of Ash in the beginning, but there was a turning point (not sure exactly what part it was) where I really began connecting with her and the rest of the characters. The storyline was fresh and exciting and it had my heart racing at times, wondering what would happen next. And the ending...well let's just say it was pretty amazing! The Bad - The only other negative I can think of besides my trouble connecting with certain characters at first, was how slowly the story progressed after Ash transferred to the private school. I know the author had to develop the characters and build up the storyline, but up until they find out that they're gods/goddesses I was having trouble finding the desire to continue reading. Luckily that part wasn't very long at all and after I got past it I fell in love! The Ugly - I don't have anything horrible to say about this book, it turned out to be a great read. 3) Romance Sizzle Or Fizzle?: I would definitely say sizzle! Ash ends up meeting Colt, a local park ranger,
Okay so¿this one made me think. Why? I'm pretty sure it was the unexpected twist that occurred in the book. Everything starts out all creepy and magical. Powers discovered, connections to the past made, even a believable history to seduce the most hardened of readers (DEFINITE kudos to the author on all counts mentioned)¿but then things took a turn for the¿odd. Seriously, the appearance of these beings, or creatures for lack of a better word (and specific avoidance of what they really are so as not to ruin the story), totally threw me for a loop; to my mind, they just didn¿t make sense. They weren¿t human, they weren¿t animal, they weren¿t mineral¿exactly; I just couldn¿t wrap my mind around the enigma they presented¿and yet, they were still sinister somehow. That last saving grace is how they didn¿t manage to completely obliterate the story or ruin my experience with it. Ashline is a piece of work (though her sister Eve totally gives her a run for her money) but in a good way. She¿s had a rough time thanks to events in her past (not purely her fault¿), but she¿s making the most of the new start at Blackwood Academy¿at least until a secret heritage catches up with her and things begin to turn from normal to abbey in the blink of an eye. Yep¿otherwise, she¿s doing fine (and that last word also describes her park ranger love interest¿ ^_^). Her new friends aren¿t exactly around thanks to a bond cherished since childhood but rather from the combined destinies they share making their interactions something they need to grow into. It¿s the age old battle between right and wrong, good and those that would do harm¿with a teen god twist. Think Percy Jackson but with multiple ethnic backgrounds and rather than sons/daughters of the gods, reincarnation. It¿s an interesting storyline and it certainly keeps you attached to the page as you wait to see just who will survive their next encounter. Oh, wait¿didn¿t I tell you? Yeah¿it seems that there are those (as usual) that know about their continual return to this plain and they aim to stop the cycle once and for all. Needless to say, it adds to the action sequences quite a bit¿as do the flashbacks that Ashline has of her barely remembered childhood; considering what she sees though, it may not be such a bad thing that it¿s hard to recollect. As you reach the climatic finale, yet another handful of mysteries is revealed¿one regarding another child (another sister?) that is connected to both Ashline and Eve for better or worse¿.needless to say, the search for them is sure to be a focal point in the sequel. Another is about a character in the story that, well¿let me put it this way; when all is revealed, you won¿t believe your eyes. Lastly, we deal with the group of opposing gods/goddesses that Eve¿s been hanging with; they seem to think this reincarnation thing is for the birds and want to live out their immortal lives in the here and now. Wise choice¿or fools errand? It remains to be seen but there are two things I know. First, book 2 will be on my radar because the mix of cultures and beliefs in this book gives it enough spice to stand out from the crowd. Second, there¿s a battle on the horizon with some remarkable players¿.this should be a showdown to remember.Recommended for teen readers and above; there¿s nothing too graphic nor swear worthy and the romance fans the flames in lieu of igniting the sheets¿but younger kiddos may not be so keen on the powers (and their use when in trouble) this group is endowed with. P.S. Be sure to take note of the culture mix in the book¿provides for some great extended reading.
What I LikedNEVER A DULL MOMENT!!The introduction starts off with a fist fight, teeth are flying and blood is flowing. The book continues with event after event, never slowing down till the final period and there is nothing else left on the page. The last paragraph leaves you reeling and demanding more! What did I do the moment I finished the book? I hopped on the computer and searched for more information. I also messaged Karsten to ask some questions.CharactersAshlin Wilde aka Ash: I like how human Ash remains throughout the book, she maybe this all powerful goddess but she is consistently thinking about the well being of her family, friends and wanting her sister to be what they use to be, friends. I also love her short fuse of a temper, her back talking attitude and her quick wit. It is very easy to sympathize and relate with Eve and understanding that she just wants to fit it and move on from her mistakes.Evelyn Wilde aka Eve: The very bad, not a role model older sister. Boy am I glad I don't have a sister like her. Eve does make for a great antagonist character for the story, you come to fear, hate and pity her. Families are suppose to stick together through thick and thin and do what is best for the family, but Eve has completely lost sight of this and twisted right and wrong.MythologyI love mythology and I especially love books containing mythology. All different gods and goddesses from different cultures are brought into this book forming a new and creative way to use the deities. Mortally immortal deities, so awesome!What I Didn't LikeAnother dang cliffhanger ended. Why oh why must you taunt me again!RecommendationFantastic new debut author to keep your eye on. If you love mythology and feisty lead female character this is just the book for you.
Wildefire is a YA fantasy about teenage Gods and Goddesses from several different Mythologies who all attend a private school. I loved the opening of the story where the heroine, Ashline, was in the process of kicking the crap out of the girl who her boyfriend cheated with. It immediately made this heroine immensely relate-able, and she continued to be throughout the story. I really enjoyed her assertiveness and "fiery" spirit. I actually liked most of the characters, I thought that they were the one thing that kept me invested in this book whereas the plotline really didn't work as well for me. There were several plot lines that were not followed through on so that it left me a bit confused about their relevance to the story. I'm speaking, in particular about the "Cloaks" and also about Ashline's sister Eve and the young girl in their visions. I'm not sure if Wildefire is supposed to be a beginning of a series and these things will be explained as the series progresses. I think that I would have enjoyed Wildefire much more if I would have found the storyline to have been a bit more cohesive. I felt that it was a bit all over the place. I loved the idea of all of the different Gods and Goddesses from different Mythologies being reborn over and over again but the arc of the story was very vague and weak. I would probably read any follow up book with the hope that these things would be addressed because, as I said, I truly like the concept and the characters.
How about, every story has it spark? That's right, I burned through this book wicked fast and I am giddy with excitement that I got to read it. I mean, wow. Really WOW!I LOVED the story line of this book. It was so out of the box and greatly written that you are swept away from the very first page. More like, you are bombarded by the feelings of anger and blood lust that you fall right into the story. Heck, I was falling hard. The story line had a great build up that brings you into a world like no other. Mr. Knight's writing ignites a fire in you to keep reading. The pacing of the story makes you turn the pages faster and BAM! Your burned.Ash is my spicy best friend I want to hug. You are my squishy and I will call you mine. She ROCKED! I mean this girl is everything I want to be. Brave, smart, and so blunt that it hurts! She is defensive of what is hers and fights for it. I love the fire that ignites in her. She is so pumped up that it makes you the reader excited! Even with all boy trouble she faced, she did what is right for herself. Another great twist of this book is the struggle with the sister. I really enjoyed this element in the story. There is nothing like a blood rival to get my heart racing. Everything the sister Eve did either made me scared or get excited that Ash was going to burst.Now, the love interest. Oh Mr. Knight, you sure know how to capture a great twist in a book. Through out the book, the reader see's Ash going through many love triangles. I felt bad for her and hoped that she find someone. And she did. I was happy that a boy that finally took notice of Ash. But, Mr. Knight wasn't going to leave this alone now was he? OH NO! He had to give it such a dynamic ending I was in DENIAL! I mean seriously? C'mon dude, how could you do that? Wildefire is one heck of a debut novel. Filled with a great drama, gods and goddess, lots of spiciness that it burns through your chest, it is a great read! Once you pick this book up, it will burn you like you never imagined!
Summary: Ashline Wilde has never quite fit in. She's adopted, she's the only Polynesian girl in her suburban NYC school, and her older sister Eve is unpredictable, violent, and destructive... or at least she was before she skipped town. When Eve comes back, she causes enough havoc that Ashline is forced to change schools: she enrolls at an elite private boarding school located in the northern California forest. Life seems to be better at Blackwood Academy: Ash is a star tennis player, she gets to flirt with the cute young local forest ranger, and she's even making friends. But it turns out that some of her classmates are more than they appear, and that Ash might be one of them... and that they're not as safe at Blackwood as they might think.Review: This book has a great premise: kind of American Gods for the teenage set; narrower in scope but with the gods' power amped up, and set at a boarding school. And we all know how I feel about boarding schools, not to mention world mythology and gods interacting with mortals. So, this book had a lot going for it, and in some ways it lived up to that potential, but it also had a few major flaws. First off, it's got an extremely slow start: Ashline doesn't realize what she is until almost halfway through, and she doesn't realize who she is until 3/4th of the way through... two facts that are both given away to the reader by the back cover copy. I also didn't really connect with the characters; Ashline seems sort of brash and blustery throughout, and she effectively kept me at arm's distance, which is not what you want in a protagonist.But my biggest problem was the writing. I didn't notice it at first. When you're reading fast, it's easy to gloss over some of the oddities of Knight's prose, and early on in the book, I was reading fast: it's big type, geared for YA, and I was excited to get to the meat of the story. What I noticed first was that some of the dialogue didn't sound quite like real people talk... not overtly wrong, just a little off. When I slowed down, however, I realized that it wasn't just the dialogue - it was the prose, too. There are just enough odd word choices, strange phrasings, and minor factual inaccuracies that I couldn't read it without wondering about the editing process. For example, talking about the "tar blackness" of the forest, two people who had never "demonstrated much like for each other", or a single person that "flocked to" a light - those and many other similar turns of phrase just didn't sit right in my ear, and at times majorly distracted me from the story.The good news is that in the back half of the book, once the plot really gets its legs under it and takes off, the writing stopped being nearly so distracting. Whether it actually improved, or whether I just stopped noticing because I was (once again) reading quickly, I couldn't say, but by then I was so caught up in the story that I didn't much care. Knight throws some really effective curveballs at the reader along the way; a few of which I saw coming (because I knew the mythology), and a few of which caught me completely by surprise... including one on the last page that was a game-changer, and a good enough hook that I'll almost certainly be reading the sequel, despite the issues I had with the prose. 3 out of 5 stars.Recommendation: Tough one. It's got too many issues to recommend putting it at the top of your list, but if you like world mythology, the story's good enough to be worth giving it a shot.
If I¿m being honest, I didn¿t care for the first half of the book (before Blackwood). There was even a point in which I was ready to give up, but thankfully I kept reading. I¿ve been putting this review off for days, not only due to a lack of time, but also because I¿ve been fighting with what to write. WILDEFIRE lives upto the hype, yes. Is it for everyone? Probably not, but I hope you give it a chance. Yes, there is violence, there is cursing, there is drinking, and so forth ¿ but in my opinion, it isn¿t excessive. The characters are teenagers, they will curse, they will drink, and there will be violence as they continue to learn their capabilities as gods and goddesses.One thing that I love that Karsten Knight actually accomplished with WILDEFIRE is that he managed to include various cultures, something that most YA authors, and their books, seem to ignore. Ashline and Raja (and Colt) are two fantastic characters and the ending will leave you ready for more. What more could you want?
Wildefire by Karsten KnightReviewed by Moirae the fates book reviews.Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She¿s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve¿s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California¿s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn¿t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school¿being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger¿Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood¿and she¿s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she¿s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time¿ And when warm and cold fronts collide, there¿s guaranteed to be a storm. (Synopsis provided by goodreads)I enjoyed this book, for me there were a few times that it felt long winded, but by the end of the book, I felt that Knight would not have been able to tell his story with out every word he used. I first about this book on my travels through the blogasphere and when I received a copy I was very excited. I loved the fact that this was a book dealing with gods and goddesses, however, it's not about the Greek gods. I do love a good re-telling of Greek myths, but there are other cultures who's myths are almost as good or just as good. Wildefire is the story about a Polynesian goddess, a Polynesian volcano goddess. Awesome right? It was! I loved how Ash always had a snarky remark but it never felt rude. Her sister kinda bugged me at times but I am still glad her character was there. I felt that the flow of the book was good and the voice was strong.Ash's interactions with all the others felt real and never forced. The dialog was strong and I simply loved this book. Knight is an author to watch.Overall rating ***** 5 out of 5 starsCover art Love it!Obtained: Sent by the publisher for review. **This book is on sale July 26 2011**
My Review:I had no idea what this book was about or anything else until it ended up in my mailbox and then I looked around online. I was amazed at how many readers were (and still are) anxiously awaiting Wildefire. First off, the cover is gorgeous, the Lilly and the purple and the smoke are so eye-catching!While reading Wildefire, my first thought was that the author is trying too hard. There were words in the sentences that just didn't need to be so big and long. I mean sure, we don't need to use simple words for everything, but I found his wording to be excessive sometimes. Like 2 or 3 words in one sentence that aren't familiar so sounding them out and making sure I had the right meaning would actually make me lose the whole importance to of the sentence. Other than this one set back, the novel was phenomenal!I've yet to read a book about Polynesian gods and goddesses and I found it very interesting. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the second book in Karsten Knight's series and getting some more useful facts and info on the gods and goddesses. Also, with the next book, I'm hoping to get a little more character development with Ade and the others. Knight did have some development here, but in order to connect some more and really know the characters personally, I need more in the next book. (I know there was the part about the types of gods/goddesses they are, and believe me, that part was excellent and I really enjoyed it, but something is missing)Ash and Eve are great characters though. We learn a bit about them and why Eve is the way she is, and why she does the things she does. I absolutely love Ash and her sarcastic tongue. She was entertaining and I'm glad Knight kept that up throughout the whole novel. We learn a little something about Colt that will make for an interesting plot in upcoming novels, and the cliffhanger at the end of the book had me turning back pages to make sure I had it right.I read this books quickly and now I'm ready for the next one by Karsten Knight. I think we're in for some good and promising novels and I, for one cannot wait!Pick up Wildefire when you can, it's a thrilling read and will keep you up until the wee hours of the night!
Wildefire has the potential to be a great book and a great series. The plotline, though a bit slow in places, holds interest, and this first book sets up a ton of exciting possibilities for sequels. The characters are interesting and diverse; students at a prep school, they come from American, Canadian, Haitian, Egyptian, Japanese, and Polynesian backgrounds, as reflected by the pantheon they eventually find themselves to be part of. The story's creative and engaging, and the future books in the series have soooo many directions they could go in. But...the book was almost ruined for me because of some of the characterizations. Ash and her friends are high school sophomores, yet they're drinking and sleeping around with the maturity of adults who are used to that lifestyle. And for all the weird troubles their powers as gods/goddesses have brought them, you'd think that they'd behave less like stereotypical rich kids. It seemed like Knight was trying to combine two completely different storylines into the novel, the rich snotty prep school students and the confused teens trying to figure out the fantasy world they've suddenly been thrust into. Maybe the two can be compatible, but in this case it didn't work.
Things aren¿t going so well for Ashline Wilde. Her boyfriend cheated on her, the girl he cheated with is now dead and Ashline¿s estranged sister, Eve is to blame. After all this goes down, Ash transfers to a boarding school deep in the California redwoods, hoping to put it all behind her. Things seem to be going well, until she and four other school mates witness an attempted kidnapping. The events that follow completely turn Ash¿s world upside down. See, she¿s a reincarnated Polynesian volcano goddess, and people are looking for her and the five other reincarnated gods that also attend her school. To make matters worse she somehow managed to burn her new park ranger/college boyfriend during a makeout session, and her storm-brewing sister just popped up, ready to raise hell again.Karsten Knight¿s Wildefire is a perfectly paced, action-packed thrill-ride that I couldn¿t put down. Let me point out that while the teens in the book all have powers because they are reincarnated gods and godesses, I couldn¿t help but be reminded a little of the X-Men (which is in no way a bad thing). I love me some super heroes, especially a group of super heroes banding together in all kinds of kick assedness. Though Knight takes you through the expected (and necessary set-up), I never felt like there was too much backstory. The dialogue is snappy, witty and realistic, the action is vividly written and the characters are believable (and ethnically diverse). Everything was expertly paced, and the ending will smack you upside the head like one of Eve¿s lightening bolts. This is a fun, exciting read that anyone who likes action/adventure, mythology and a little romance will thoroughly enjoy.(Review based on an early review copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster GalleyGrab)
Out of all the recent books dealing with gods and goddesses, Wildefire is definitely my favorite. For starters, this book stands out for me solely on the basis that our main character, Ashline Wilde, is a reincarnation of an ancient Polynesian goddess. Thumbs up for diversity! The rest of the pantheon is diverse as well, each of their backgrounds being very different from the other. This diversity didn't feel - for a lack of a better word - forced either. The characters had their backgrounds and that was that. They just were. With every book that has a large cast there's a worry that they will all sort of blend together, but each character here had their own distinct and individual personality. I did grow more attached to a few over the others -- Ashline being my favorite with her fierceness -- but I loved diving into all of their histories and getting a glimpse of their abilities. There is quite a bit of violence and language in the book, but I thought it was a perfect fit for these deities. The language seemed to flow naturally from the characters and, while the violence might seem excessive to some, I felt that their behavior and actions were more realistic than some of the more subdued gods and goddesses that I've encountered in other YA novels. Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed the different interpretations in various books, but I loved that Karsten Knight's characters had a bit more BANG! and edge to them. If you're looking for a heavy focus on a romance, this is not the book for you. Sure, Colt is a cool and likable character, and the moments between him and Ashline were pretty sweet, but any romantic aspects definitely took the backseat to everything else going on in the story. I'm a sucker for a good romance as much as the next person but, believe me, it was the last thing I was worrying about when I was reading this book.If I had to describe Wildefire in one word it would be 'intense' -- the fast pace kept me on the edge of my seat. It also made my brain explode from the awesome. And then it exploded some more after doing some "research" following the conclusion. Uh...yeah...I'll definitely be needing that second book ASAP. Karsten Knight has set up a thrilling introduction with his debut and I cannot wait to see what he has in store for us!
Ashlyn Wilde ended up at an exclusive boarding school following the death of one of her high-school peers. The girl, Lizzie, was pushed off Ash¿s roof by Ash¿s older sister, Eve. Yeah. Not a good beginning to a high school year. Not saying Lizzie didn¿t have it coming but¿..Blackwood is not only exclusive, it is secluded in the Northern California wilderness. Ashlyn makes good friends and they bond closer when the unite to save a fellow student from being kidnapped. The thing is ¿ she called them to save her. With her mind. She is also blind. Hmmmm. The group, as it turns out, was made know to Selena by her friend Jack. Jack made scrolls for each of Ash¿s friends and Selena is the mailman. Each has something one of the kids must do to prevent Ragnarok (end of the world). Ash¿s scroll is simple. Kill the Trickster. ?? Interestingly enough, each kid is a god. Serena is a siren, Rolfe is the Norse god of light, Raja is Isis, goddess of the dead, etc. They all have visions about their past life, except Ash. She sees a little girl surrounded by 4 men in white coats. But it isn¿t her. Nor is it Eve, who disappeared following Lizzie¿s death.Join in the story as these teens go up against the really bad guy (girl) and while it is a most exciting tale not all ends well. There will be losses and there will be surprises and YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK! Although listed as a YA novel, I loved it and I¿m well past YA status!
I want to start off by saying that I did enjoy this book, would gladly read it all over and would definitely read a sequel.From the back of the book, I wasn't actually sure I would get into it but I was hooked from the start.I enjoy the character of Ash and am definitely intrigued by her sister, Eve. Their relationship is charged to say the least.While this was a fun read that easy easy to follow and kept you wanting more, there were a few parts where i felt it let me down.There were just moments that required more detail, more explanation and more book time but were skimmed over. One of the most important examples being when Ash finds that one of the major reasons for her ending up at the boarding school was due to a inky black creature with a blue flame for an eye that is supposed to be the cause of her race going extinct instead of a mysterious prophet with good intentions. Something like that seems to demand more book time but you hear nothing else of it beyond a few sentences early in the following chapter. Ash doesn't even tell her other godling friends the earth shaking news.There was also a small issue Eve and other minor characters seeming to be omnipresent and omniscient. They just happen to be in the perfect place to see everything that happens at all times, magically unnoticed and has information about the main character she barely even knows yet.Otherwise, it was a fun read, very entertaining and absolutely a page turner. The characters were interesting, the plot was fresh and more original than any I've read in a long time and the potential for the series is tremendous.
This book is just too good!I was literally left speechless...Gods & Goddesses , Tough Villains, Suspense...all wrapped in one bookie goodness. I definitely had to brush up on some of my Native American Mythology, that's for sure!There were times when I thought I was being pulled in many different directions with all the characters. But I didn¿t mind. Even though Ashline was the main protag, it was still awesome to get to know the secondary characters. It¿s something you really don¿t see a lot in books, Knight pulled it off flawlessly.Honestly I¿m not mad about ending, kind of saw it coming ¿in my minds eye or whatever.¿ But I¿m definitely mad about Rolfe! He was such a great guy. And Eve...can¿t hate her even though she is just EVIL. She made the story entertaining...one of the meanest villains I know. I really feel sorry for Ash.This is an Epic series. Not one to miss! Now that Ash has once again gotten herself into a situation, wondering what going to happen in Embers & Echoes! Ah the suspense is killin¿ me!
My rating: 3.9/5This book was a pleasant surprise. I'll admit the last book based on mythology I've read was the first Percy Jackson book when I was in seventh grade, so I don't really have that much to compare this book too. However Wildefire had most of the elements I'm looking for in a good book; a strong kick-ass main character, action, and an intense back story.After reading the first two pages, it was clear that Ash was not someone you wanted to cross. She has a temper, and she's independent. Yes, she is violent at times. Yes, she swears and drinks, as do other characters. Will that bother some people? Probably. But in my opinion, these things are not that uncommon in teenage lives as people would like to believe. Karsten Knight didn't go overboard with the violence/swearing/drinking in Wildefire. I think he created pretty realistic teenagers--uhh, aside from the whole gods/goddesses aspect. Anyways, it was nice to have a strong minded female main character instead of a whiny girl. Besides Ash's kick-ass-ness, I was also happy to see that the 'side' characters, if you can call them that, were crucial to the story. Ash's friends were not only diverse in ethnicity, which is not something I find in books a lot nowadays, but they each had their own unique personalities. And where I loved the main characters, I loved to hate the villians. Eve and Ash's backstory made for some twisted family dynamics. Where Ash was violent at times, but she had morals. Eve was just... well, not so much. Though I loved all of that, I just had two problems with this book. First, the beginning of the book was kinda slow for me. It wasn't until about 100 pages in that things really started to pick up. Second, the romance. I just couldn't find it believable. It felt a little too much like instalove, and honestly, a bit creepy in the beginning. I felt like I missed the spark that ignited their relationship.But those things aside, I really did enjoy this book. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in a good mythology read, or anyone who just loves a little action in their book. I'll definitely pick up my own copy of this book and the sequel when it comes out.
Wildefire started out really rough for me. Because it had such a rough start, I was tempted to give up on this book at one point. I am glad I did not.My initial difficulties with this book were problems with the dialog and character interactions. The dialog, in the beginning, was uncomfortable. It didn¿t flow well. Because of this dialog problem, character interactions were overblown and forced. By the time Ashline arrives at Blackwood, these problems have mostly been resolved and I was able to truly enjoy the story.I found the plot to be unique. Another group of magical students in a boarding school environment could have come across as very tired. But that isn¿t how the plot played out. Blackwood isn¿t a school for magical students, which is a big distinction. It¿s a boarding school where a group of students with unusual powers converge. It may seem like a minor distinction, but it is an important one. Instead of being immersed in a whole designed to accept Ashline and the other¿s powers, they are in an environment populated by mortals. This brought hiding their powers into play in the story. I also enjoyed the idea of the focal characters being gods. Mythology is becoming very popular in Young Adult literature right now, and I think Knight¿s take on this phenomenon was unique. I also LOVED the ending of this book. Total cliffhanger that came really out of nowhere and took me totally by surprise, in a very good way!I enjoyed the characters and their abilities very much. Ashline is a very strong female protagonist, which I like. Her group of friends who are also gods were extremely likeable, too. Knight did an exceptional job of creating characters with awesome powers that managed to remain very human. It would have been hard to connect with the characters if they were so far off the human scale that a mere mortal, such as myself, could no longer interact with them.The only problem I had with this book that was not resolved was the relationship between Ashline and the park ranger with whom she becomes romantically involved. There was quite an age gap between these two characters. Ashline is 16/17 and Colt is in his early 20s. Maybe this wouldn¿t bother others, but their relationship is clearly illegal from the sexual standpoint and left me with an ¿ewww¿ vibe. I just didn¿t care for this aspect.Overall, I found Wildefire to be exceptional. It is definitely a great example of a book that has a rough beginning but is turned around and made outstanding come the end. I will absolutely be checking out the next installment in this series.
This book friggin ROCKED! I was amazed throughout the whole book by the craziness and creativity that Karsten conceived in Wildefire. Karsten¿s imagination is truly unique in a way I have trouble explaining, and it¿s completely different than what I¿m used to. I loved the entire book, but it was the very last page that set this book over the edge of how I feel about it. I¿m still sitting here in shock and thinking, ¿WHAT THE¿ ***???¿ I was trying to describe to a co-worker my thoughts about the ending, and I was stuttering trying to put my thoughts into words! And I mean that literally¿I truly WAS stuttering. I CANNOT put into words what the heck I think about the ending.While I was reading Wildefire, learning and experiencing in my mind the craziness that goes on because of these gods, I was thinking, ¿Wow, these gods and goddesses are not something that we would want walking around on our planet with that kind of power!¿ The evil characters in this book are truly psychotic (uh hum...Eve!) But even the gods and goddesses that are ¿good¿ can still cause serious damage, even when they don¿t want to. That is, until they can learn how to control their power.The main character, Ash, is HARDCORE! In the very beginning of the book, Ash is beating the living crap out of this girl Lizzie because Ash's boyfriend cheated on her with Lizzie. When I say that she was beating the living crap out of Lizzie, I REALLY mean it! She actually knocked teeth out of this chick¿s mouth, and the whole time Lizzie was still talking smack! This little scene I just described is just a very small piece in so much craziness that happens in this book¿and that¿s only one example. Ash is one hardcore Goddess! If I am going to start picking teams for every book, I would have to say, "TEAM ASH" for this one.This is the first time in a really long time that I really liked a book that a male author wrote. I don¿t want to be all sexist, but a very high percentage of the books that I really love are written by female authors. So I am extremely happy that Fikshun recommended Wildefire to me! This is for sure a book that I would recommend to someone else.
Wildefire is a great debut and the beginning of a new series that I have really high hopes for. I was drawn into this story and fascinated by it's characters from the beginning. This first book really concentrates on letting us get to know Ash and her new friends at school. The thick of the action doesn't really start up until the last half of the book---you literally don't even get into Ash discovering which goddess she is until very near the end. As it goes with some series, the first book is all about introduction and building the story. If I didn't know it was a series, I might have been disappointed---but the stage has been set, I know the juicy bits are coming! And just the story of Ash and her friends discovering their powers, Ash dealing with her scary sister (understatement!), of course, a little romance on the side, was enough to keep me intrigued through this first installment.Not in a long time have I come across a villain that was so easy to hate. Eve was diabolical, heartless, and violent from the very beginning---and it made it even worse that she was Ash's sister. In the few instances that are put in try to give the reader pause on whether she really is as evil as she seems, I just kept thinking she was faking it, that she was reeling Ash in just to bite her head off again. There is some really heavy violence in this one, from all sides, so be prepared!The dialogue in this book is so funny. Everything that comes out of Ash's mouth, and most of her friends' mouths, for that matter is dripping with sarcasm and witty comebacks. However, there were, at times, SO much sarcasm that it felt a little overdone and forced. After all, I don't think anyone can realistically be ready with the perfect zingers all the time. Still, it was hilarious and entertaining to read.The ending is heart-stopping! If I had any doubt about how much I enjoyed this one, the ending blew that all away. My reaction was literally this: "What??? NOOOO!"After that, all I could think was getting to the next book in this series!