If you’ve ever felt the urge to punch Mitch McConnell in the face over the course of the past several years, Fire Becomes Her by Rosiee Thor might be the fantasy catharsis of your dreams. I love books that make me feel things, and this book ran me through an emotional ringer: rage and joy and everything in-between.
About Fire Becomes Her
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends • Release Date: January 25, 2022 • Pages: 336
Age Range: Young Adult • Genre: Historical Mystery • Format: eBook • Source: Netgalley
Flare is power.
With only a drop of flare, one can light the night sky with fireworks . . . or burn a building to the ground — and seventeen-year-old Ingrid Ellis wants her fair share.
Ingrid doesn’t have a family fortune, monetary or magical, but at least she has a plan: Rise to the top on the arm of Linden Holt, heir to a hefty political legacy and the largest fortune of flare in all of Candesce. Her only obstacle is Linden’s father who refuses to acknowledge her.
So when Senator Holt announces his run for president, Ingrid uses the situation to her advantage. She strikes a deal to spy on the senator’s opposition in exchange for his approval and the status she so desperately craves. But the longer Ingrid wears two masks, the more she questions where her true allegiances lie.
Will she stand with the Holts, or will she forge her own path?
✨ Magic you can drink
EatBurn the rich
🌈 Queer normative world
🎷 Jazz Age-inspired world
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Read an Excerpt
queer normative world, 3 aro/ace spectrum characters, including the main character, who is aromantic spectrum bisexual. It also includes an aro/ace character and a nonbinary ace character
abandonment, alcohol consumption, classism, gaslighting, manipulation, misogyny, murder, police brutality, sexism, violence
My Review of Fire Becomes Her
Fire Becomes Her draws you in with this beautiful cover and let me tell you this book doesn’t disappoint 😍😍😍 I’m a sucker for anything with Jazz Age Vibes, and I adore the world Thor created to explore issues of political power and privilege — if you’ve read their debut Tarnished Are the Stars you will notice a similar theme of Eat the Rich — while also exploring identity and the many different kinds of love we all experience.
“He didn’t need bootleg flicker when he had a pocketful of flare.”
The world sizzles with magic and the narrative sparkles with flair (pardon the pun). In Cadensce, magic (flare) is currency and the rich have the most access to it. While most people struggle for enough to put food on the table and heat their home, the rich flaunt their flare with abandon. Society is built upon this inequity and government functions largely to keep these systems in place: to keep the rich rich and the poor placated.
“Those at the top had enough [flare] to fill a reservoir, and the rest of them had to make do with the little they could earn in an honest day’s work. Or not so honest, depending on how refined they liked their magic. Flicker would do in a pinch. The illicit, synthetic magic never made more than a temporary impression on the world.”
The narrative pops and sparkles, as do it’s characters. Ingrid is a flawed and broken main character who simply wants a better life for herself – and has decided the son of a prominent senator is her ticket. She’s spent years among the rich and privileged in private school working towards her goal and it’s just within her reach. Only she needs to earn the approval of Senator Holt, and it turns out the stakes may be more than she’s willing to give.
“She could drink every drop of flicker in this club, but it would never be the same as the raw, rushing wildfire of real magic. Flicker was no more than a weak imitation. Just like her.”
No matter how hard she tries, Ingrid never quite feels like one of the elite, though. Her internal feelings of worth are inextricably linked with her lack of status, so no matter how much she accomplishes (such as getting into an elite school) it’s not quite enough. Ingrid’s laser-focused on raising her station, and her feelings of otherness outweigh everything else. She still sees herself as the poor girl – but she’s definitely changed from peers of the same station.
You know that scene in Mean Girls after Cady skips Janis’ art show for a party because “she has to pretend she is plastic” and Janis yells “You’re cold, shiny, hard plastic”? I think this is a good description of the disconnect between how Ingrid sees herself and how the rest of the world sees her after Louise questions her behavior in the opening chapter are a good primer to Ingrid’s internal conflict.
“You think becoming one of them will make up for who you were born, but giving in to their impossible model of richness will just nail the lid on the rest of our coffins.”
The book is largely plot driven but the action is definitely driven by the characters and their choices. The status quo of Cadensce gives you two options: play the game (Ingrid) or break the game (Louise). Playing the game only continues the system and the aspiration of trickle down economics leads people to believe if they work really hard they might be one of the lucky ones. The morally righteous ones to earn it. But in reality morality has nothing to do with it: it’s just a means of control. But the more that Ingrid plays the game, the less she is sure that’s what she wants. Ingrid’s character development is compelling to read as she struggles with the harsh reality of politics behind the curtain on the campaign trail.
“I’m ashamed that you think I’m worthy, but not other people like me.”
I’ve thought about the above quote for days. Even the “progressive” rich people aren’t immune to the implicit biases against poor people. That only those who work hard and “play the game” are worthy. Fire Becomes Her is a call to arms to not accept the status quo, emboldening teens to be the change they want to see in the world. But one thing I particularly appreciate is that Ingrid isn’t the always noble hero: she struggles with doing what she thinks is right and her own ambitions.
“‘I’m just a flicker chemist who dared to fight back. Maybe that makes me a rebel.'”
The politics in this book will make you mad and that’s the point. There are countless direct parallels to the current political climate in the United States (and Thor’s mentioned they wrote the book largely to set Mitch McConnell on fire or punch Mitch McConnell in the face). One can’t help but see the direct comparisons to the various ways those in power control the narrative to keep their power and privilege. Anyone protesting the status quo are labeled rebels: it’s their radical ideas that are the danger not any plans of violence, but Senator Holt uses fear of violence to stoke the voters into a frenzy.
I absolutely loved the Jazz Age glamor vibes, the characters and the friendships, and of the course the puns. Fire Becomes Her isn’t a romance: it’s about a queer platonic relationship. Charlotte and Alex are gems who must be protected. Linden is… well, he’s there and serves a purpose. Ultimately this review is a giant mess and for that I’m sorry – I just love this book’s tackling politics of the US in a magical world that fizzles on page. That the book doesn’t lose hope despite it looking pretty bleak.
Highly recommended to fans of magical fantasy worlds with a dose of politics. This book, like Rosiee’s debut Tarnished Are The Stars, really is eat the rich in novel form. But the Jazz Age inspired world and magic you can drink is just such a good time!
Recommended if you enjoyed…
Preorder Fire Becomes Her or request it from your local library and submit your information in the preorder campaign to receive some goodies! The physical items are US-only, but the digital items are available for international readers.
No two readers experience a book in the same way; this was mine, but what about you?
💬 Have you read Fire Becomes Her yet? If so, what are your thoughts?
💬 Did I convince you to add this book to your TBR?
💬 What are your favorite magical fantasy books? Any other Jazz Age-inspired ones I should read? What should I add to my TBR?