For a Muse of Fire (For a Muse of Fire, #1)
A young woman with a dangerous power she barely understands. A smuggler with secrets of his own. A country torn between a merciless colonial army, a terrifying tyrant, and a feared rebel leader. The first book in a new trilogy from the acclaimed Heidi Heilig blends traditional storytelling with ephemera for a lush, page-turning tale of escape and rebellion. For a Muse of Fire will captivate fans of Sabaa Tahir, Leigh Bardugo, and Renée Ahdieh.Jetta’s family is famed as the most talented troupe of shadow players in the land. With Jetta behind the scrim, their puppets seem to move without string or stick—a trade secret, they say. In truth, Jetta can see the souls of the recently departed and bind them to the puppets with her blood. But the old ways are forbidden ever since the colonial army conquered their country, so Jetta must never show, never tell. Her skill and fame are her family’s way to earn a spot aboard the royal ship to Aquitan, where shadow plays are the latest rage, and where rumor has it the Mad King has a spring that cures his ills. Because seeing spirits is not the only thing that plagues Jetta. But as rebellion seethes and as Jetta meets a young smuggler, she will face truths and decisions that she never imagined—and safety will never seem so far away.Heidi Heilig creates a vivid, rich world inspired by Asian cultures and French colonialism. Her characters are equally complex and nuanced, including the bipolar heroine. Told from Jetta’s first-person point-of-view, as well as chapters written as play scripts and ephemera such as telegrams and letters, For a Muse of Fire is an engrossing journey that weaves magic, simmering romance, and the deep bonds of family with the high stakes of epic adventure.

For a Muse of Fire (For a Muse of Fire, #1) Details

TitleFor a Muse of Fire (For a Muse of Fire, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 25th, 2018
PublisherGreenwillow Books
ISBN-139780062380838
Rating
GenreFantasy, Young Adult

For a Muse of Fire (For a Muse of Fire, #1) Review

  • Heidi Heilig
    January 1, 1970
    Okay I'm going to paste my preliminary author's note here, because it includes content notes at the bottom and I want to get those in front of people now because ARCs will become available soonish and I don't want anyone to be taken by surprise! I will format with spoiler tags as well, to keep anyone from being spoiled.So! Here goes: Sometimes, the inside of my head seems like the pile of returned books on a library cart. A well-worn high fantasy beside an account of the lives of party girls i Okay I'm going to paste my preliminary author's note here, because it includes content notes at the bottom and I want to get those in front of people now because ARCs will become available soonish and I don't want anyone to be taken by surprise! I will format with spoiler tags as well, to keep anyone from being spoiled.So! Here goes: Sometimes, the inside of my head seems like the pile of returned books on a library cart. A well-worn high fantasy beside an account of the lives of party girls in Bohemian New York . . . a Shakespeare play sandwiched between a history of French colonialism and a book about shadow puppetry. These flying leaps from topic to topic are one of my favorite things about my own bipolar disorder, and they inform my world building in unexpected ways.When I set out to write FOR A MUSE OF FIRE, I wanted to write about a main character who shares my mental illness, and seeks a real life treatment for it. (view spoiler)[ (Lithium, which occurs naturally in springs around the world, is a historical treatment but is still widely prescribed for bipolar. I took it myself for a while.) (hide spoiler)] But I also wanted to create a magical second world out of my obsessions, which are in turn informed by my own malheur: I spent a long time in theatre in my youth, where my manic highs let me shine in the limelight. I was obsessed with death and spirits for a while, those thoughts meshing with my maudlin lows. There is a hedonism to mania as well, which is so often reviled in young women (unfortunately, I was no exception), so the cast of Le Perl gives me especial joy.And of course, my heritage and upbringing creeps in. I am half Chinese, but raised in a rainy valley in Hawaii down the road from a taro farm where a water buffalo grazed. I must admit, as a biracial person, I have sometimes felt like a man without a country, as it were. In this book, I leaned into the freedom that feeling can bring: inspiration for food, styles of puppetry, and language are taken from a broad cross-section of places and times.The technology, too, is a bit out of history. Though the headers on the letters from the Aquitans note that the year is 1874, the year is not quite analogous to our own 19th century history. (view spoiler)[ The repeating rifle came a bit earlier, copper jacketed bullets came a bit later. Electric street lights existed in our own 1874, but were not widespread for years. And of course, the evolution of flight came later, as did vaudeville and burlesque. (hide spoiler)]Lastly, please note that while Aquitan and Chakrana are inspired in part by France and South East Asia, so many cultural, linguistic, political, historical, and religious liberties were taken that the story is truly a fantasy, and not an allegory or a close second world version. This might be most noticeable in the inexact but French-like nature of the Aquitan words. CONTENT NOTES: (view spoiler)[ Mental illness (bipolar), blood use in magic, gun violence, war, colonialism, racism, descriptions of dead bodies, mention of reproductive coercion, mentions of torture, mention of suicide (hide spoiler)]
    more
  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    I am... so excited to have an arc of this oh my god⬆ check ⬆ out ⬆ this ⬆ awesome ⬆ cover ⬆ [and the excerpt too]✨Arc received from the publisher via my local bookstore for an honest review. [ releases: September 2018.]
  • Justina Ireland
    January 1, 1970
    How do you balance discussions of colonialism, the dual identity of being biracial, the stigmas around sex work, and metal health in a book filled with dark magic and lush descriptions?I have no fucking idea, but Heidi Heilig definitely does.This book features, in no particular order:*Authentic depiction of bipolar disorder*Saucy sex workers*Ephemera between chapters that flesh out the fast paced narrative*A very sexy violin player*Necromancy used in a way that is new and differentThis is an ama How do you balance discussions of colonialism, the dual identity of being biracial, the stigmas around sex work, and metal health in a book filled with dark magic and lush descriptions?I have no fucking idea, but Heidi Heilig definitely does.This book features, in no particular order:*Authentic depiction of bipolar disorder*Saucy sex workers*Ephemera between chapters that flesh out the fast paced narrative*A very sexy violin player*Necromancy used in a way that is new and differentThis is an amazing, richly drawn fantasy that goes beyond the stale tropes of princes and princesses and doomed kingdoms. Do yourself a favor and get this one on your preorder list.
    more
  • Cesar
    January 1, 1970
    I heard there's necromancy in here.And it's an Asian fantasy. Anything involving necromancy gets my attention.One word: Yes.
  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
  • ✧Lilly✧ (Valley of the Books)
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Harper Collins for the early copy! I'm very excited for this!
  • Ricky
    January 1, 1970
    Welcome to the fourth in my series of reviews of ARCs for which I traded this August, and for sure one of the best, brightest, and most unique new books of the year! Heidi Heilig impressed me a great deal with her first duology, The Girl from Everywhere and The Ship Beyond Time. Now, she starts a new trilogy in For a Muse of Fire, another stellar fantasy in Heilig's signature style. It's dark and deadly, very lavish, highly critical of colonialism, and decidedly unconventional in its structure. Welcome to the fourth in my series of reviews of ARCs for which I traded this August, and for sure one of the best, brightest, and most unique new books of the year! Heidi Heilig impressed me a great deal with her first duology, The Girl from Everywhere and The Ship Beyond Time. Now, she starts a new trilogy in For a Muse of Fire, another stellar fantasy in Heilig's signature style. It's dark and deadly, very lavish, highly critical of colonialism, and decidedly unconventional in its structure. Between almost every chapter is at least one piece of ephemera - a bit of dialogue between two side characters, presented in the form of a stage play; telegrams between officials in the Aquitaine armée (the colonial power of Aquitan being largely French-inspired, though with some subtle cultural differences; similarly, the Chakran people and civilization aren't inspired by any one Asian country - I sense aspects of Indian, Vietnamese, and Cambodian cultures, unless I miss my guess); in-universe folklore relevant to the story at hand (my personal favorite being the tale of the King of Death - very definitely a high point); that sort of thing.Another major reason to read this book is because it's #ownvoices for Heilig as a bipolar writer. One of the driving forces behind heroine Jetta's journey to Aquitan is the possibility of finding a cure for her own illness in the same spring where the Mad King is said to help himself as well. But as with all the best #ownvoices leads, Jetta is nowhere near 100% defined by her bipolar disorder. Her strong family ties help define her as well, as do her magic (dangerous though it may be, using blood-magic necromancy) and her art (coming from a family of shadow puppeteers as she does.) Though I'm not reading this book #ownvoices, as an #ownvoices writer myself - for autism - I very much appreciate how engaging a protagonist Heilig gives us in Jetta. Heilig also helps set a new standard in the business, ensuring the inclusion of all relevant content warnings on the copyright page - something I'm still seeing in oddly few published books.Perhaps the only issue I had with reading this book as an ARC is that some of the extra artwork details - notably, maps and sheet music - are still TK. For sure, I'll be taking a look at the final product as soon as it comes out to see how glorious these details are - and, knowing the lovely map work Heilig's books have gifted us with before, that's just another way my standards remain high.And one last question - did Heilig name Leo Rath after the actor Jesse Rath? Just curious.
    more
  • ALEXA
    January 1, 1970
    It was a little hard to make sense of the world, language and storytelling format initially. But there was just enough of a draw to keep me interested in finding out how things would play out in the end.
  • Lauren ✨ (YABookers)
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I received a free copy via Edelweiss for review purposes.Jetta is a member of a famed troupe of shadow players, where a story is told through the shadows cast by puppets. But Jetta and her parents have a secret to their success – Jetta's has necromancy powers and uses it to bind souls to her puppets so they can move without strings. With her skills and their fame, Jetta and her family are trying to make their way from Aquitan and Chakrana (the former inspired by South East Asia, and Disclaimer: I received a free copy via Edelweiss for review purposes.Jetta is a member of a famed troupe of shadow players, where a story is told through the shadows cast by puppets. But Jetta and her parents have a secret to their success – Jetta's has necromancy powers and uses it to bind souls to her puppets so they can move without strings. With her skills and their fame, Jetta and her family are trying to make their way from Aquitan and Chakrana (the former inspired by South East Asia, and the latter by France, their interaction and history based on French colonialism), fleeing the rising rebellion, but also where rumor has it the Mad King has a spring to cure his ills, because the spirits of the dead are not the only thing that plagues Jetta. But as the rebellion lands on her front step, Jetta finds herself facing truths and decisions she never imagined. I am a massive fan of Heidi Heilig's duology THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE, and so I was ecstatic to get my hands on an e-ARC of FOR A MUSE OF FIRE. It did not disappoint - not in the slightest. It's an Asian inspired fantasy with a vibrant and dynamic cast of characters, fantastic world-building, a unique magic system (NECROMANCY!), and such lush writing. The characters – both the main and the secondary – were complex and well-developed and the group dynamics and interactions were exceptional. I adored Jetta, how intelligent, caring, and kind she was. Jetta's malheur is also very much inspired by the author's #ownvoices experience with bipolar. I adored Leo. I adored the feeling of found family, and I also adored the slow burn romance between Jetta and Leo. Another thing that makes this book so unique, aside from the exceptional world-building and unique magic system, was that whilst most of it was written in the first-person narrative from Jetta's POV, there were letters and transcripts and folklore stories and it enhanced the reading experience and made it feel so immersive. Even though FOR A MUSE OF FIRE is a fantasy, it is very much based on history, with themes of colonialism. I do think that fans of both fantasy and historical fantasy/fiction will find a lot to love here. FOR A MUSE OF FIRE is a book that I will be recommending to fantasy fans for a long time to come.
    more
  • Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔
    January 1, 1970
    This sounds quite interesting, and I love the cover <3
  • Rachel Strolle
    January 1, 1970
    SO SO SO SO SO SO SO GOOD
  • aria [dear darling reader]
    January 1, 1970
    REASON TO ADD TO YOUR TBR:• it says would captivate fans of leigh bardugo (yay!!!!) i'm a bit torn about sabaa tahir and renee ahdieh, but okay. all of these women are fantasy writers so, still a big yeah!• seeing dead people and bind them to puppets??? yessssss!!!• asian culture!!!! yay! for diversity. also, we need more asian representation in books, like, really.• bipolar heroine???• inserts of play scripts and letters!!!!GIVE THIS TO ME NOW
    more
  • K
    January 1, 1970
    Heidi Heilig is a master of her craft.
  • Britt
    January 1, 1970
    Necromancy with puppets...French and Asian influences.Magic and epic adventures.For a Muse of Fire is a story about a girl named Jetta. Her family is the Ros Nai – a troupe of shadow players that is on their way to being the most famous in the country. Their puppets seem to move and dance without strings and everyone is always captivated by the stories they tell with her father singing the old tales and her mother playing the thom and flute while Jetta directs the puppets behind the scrim.Learni Necromancy with puppets...French and Asian influences.Magic and epic adventures.For a Muse of Fire is a story about a girl named Jetta. Her family is the Ros Nai – a troupe of shadow players that is on their way to being the most famous in the country. Their puppets seem to move and dance without strings and everyone is always captivated by the stories they tell with her father singing the old tales and her mother playing the thom and flute while Jetta directs the puppets behind the scrim.Learning about Jetta’s dangerous and intriguing magic, while seeing glimpses of her bipolar disorder – all while they are on an epic, hazardous journey is one of the most interesting point of views I have read in a while. I love her character. I also enjoyed the slow-burn romance and her deep connection and love for her family.The Ros Nai troupe is hoping to perform their way to another country where the Mad King is said to drink from a spring that cures his madness. Their family is hoping this spring may also help Jetta. When tensions rise even further between the armèe and the rebellion in their country, Jetta and her family are caught in the middle and their journey turns even more dangerous and difficult. A cast of characters, old folktales, telegrams, sheet music, letters, play scripts, and maps are all comprised to make up this story. I loved the interesting and changing ways of information while still hearing the story from Jetta’s point of view.The world-building was vivid, dark, complex, and captivating. I loved this story and am so happy to hear that there will be more! This is definitely a series to jump on.And in case I needed to say it again - PUPPET NECROMANCY!*Thank you very much to HarperCollins via Edelweiss*
    more
  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    The initial set-up of the book was pretty confusing. There is a lot of terminology and a lot of people to keep track of. Although I liked the mash-up of French words in an Asian-style setting, I did find the storyline behind this blurry and odd, at times.I just couldn't connect with the characters or the plot. Putting this down for now.
    more
  • Ruthsic
    January 1, 1970
    Warnings (mentioned by author in book): Mental illness (bipolar), blood use in magic, gun violence, war, colonialism, racism, descriptions of dead bodies, mention of reproductive coercion, mentions of torture, mention of suicideHeilig's latest novel brings out a necromancer's story in a fantasy world influenced by colonialism. Jetta is a part of a troupe of shadow players - an art that uses puppet shadows to play out a story - and with her necromancy talents, which are banned by the rulers by th Warnings (mentioned by author in book): Mental illness (bipolar), blood use in magic, gun violence, war, colonialism, racism, descriptions of dead bodies, mention of reproductive coercion, mentions of torture, mention of suicideHeilig's latest novel brings out a necromancer's story in a fantasy world influenced by colonialism. Jetta is a part of a troupe of shadow players - an art that uses puppet shadows to play out a story - and with her necromancy talents, which are banned by the rulers by the way, she binds souls to puppets to make them move without strings. They are popular and looking for a way out of Chakrana (the colony of Aquitan and which is the Asian-like country) and into Aquitan (the kingdom across the Hundred Days sea, and which is standing in for France here) where she hopes to get a cure for illness (bipolar disorder is being mentioned as her malheur here) but it is getting difficult when they are revolutionary forces as well as a brewing civil war. When I said I wanted diversity in genre fiction, this is what I was asking for. Jetta's story is very much influenced by her illness - her manic episodes make her the performer she is, but it also leads to rash decisions that have unfortunate consequences. Her depressive episodes, the one I related to, felt raw and realistic to experience. Along with this, Jetta being Chakran and her country bound to Aquitan as a colony is also something that Heilig brings out in the narrative - they are being told that the rebel forces are the enemy, and the Aquitans have done a good job of villainising the people against their own countrymen. It doesn't help that the previous ruler did not rein in the mysterious and powerful Le Trepas (a necromancer priest who built a cult around him) and the latter basically terrified the people enough that they fear to even speak his name. A monster, out of legend, when he was still roaming free with death at the tips of his fingers.The story is told mostly in Jetta's first person narrative, but occasionally cuts to letters, telegrams, folklore stories, playbills, and scenes in the form of a script, which is how we get an understanding of how the war is brewing in Chakrana, and what the Aquitan forces stationed there are trying to do. There are people who think they are doing good by 'taming' the culture of the Chakrana while there are others who basically want an excuse to go on a genocidal rampage. But there is another latent threat looming - Le Trepas and his cohort, who still hide in the court they once ruled. Jetta's mother is careful to keep her from that because of her powers, but ultimately, even the truth of what went on in the court and how it connects to their folklore. And isn’t it strange how the Aquitans devour our stories but silence our prayers?A secondary character of interest is Leo, who is Aquitan-Chakran, and runs a theater and is in charge of a troupe of girls. There is a found family feeling to them, but I still didn't understand why he essentially leaves them to go with Jetta. Speaking of the girls, they are a nice bunch and I hope to see more of them in the sequel, especially Tia (who is trans) and Cheeky. Other characters of note are the Chakran prince, who has more going on that initially thought, and Theodora, who is basically an engineer. “Oh! Cheeky.” Leo smothers his smile as he turns to her. “Didn’t hear you coming.”“Never will, with an attitude like that.”Basically, it is a powerful story of a simple girl with a big power and how she and the world she is in affect each other's stories. The writing is good, emotional, and rooted in realism, even with such a fantasy concept. Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Greenwillow Books, via Edelweiss.
    more
  • Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
    January 1, 1970
    For a Muse of Fire was too conceptual for me. In the main POV, I struggled with the amount of French sprinkled through the text. I never studied French, and I spent so much time looking things up I couldn't settle into the narrative or the characters. In the sections written in play format, I just scratched my head; it seemed a bit over the top tbh, though I like the idea in theory.
    more
  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    **I received this as an egalley from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.**Heidi Heilig continues to astound me. She is incredible, and deserves so much more readership than she seems to get. I fell in love with The Girl from Everywhere last year and when I discovered she was writing this beauty, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Besides the fact that Heidi was the one writing it, the premise of it – a shadow player who uses souls to control her puppets, mixed wit **I received this as an egalley from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.**Heidi Heilig continues to astound me. She is incredible, and deserves so much more readership than she seems to get. I fell in love with The Girl from Everywhere last year and when I discovered she was writing this beauty, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Besides the fact that Heidi was the one writing it, the premise of it – a shadow player who uses souls to control her puppets, mixed with the fear and unrest of a colonized country – had me invested almost immediately from the start. And Heidi did not disappoint. This book was a non-stop, breathtaking journey of rebellion, escape, and a girl searching for a cure for her illness (bipolar) while also making sense of the power she has over the dead and the ramifications of her actions to the people around her.In the book, Heidi often uses the term “sefondre”, meaning “to coalesce” or to come together – something that Jetta loves more than anything to see happen, especially when she helps make it so through her shadow puppet shows. And Heidi does just the same – she pulls together so many ideas, inspirations, and story-telling styles that all coalesce into a hauntingly beautiful narrative. She merges traditional novel writing with epistles, stage script, sheet music (that she wrote the lyrics to herself! And yes, I preordered the book and received the mp3s of the recordings and listened to them while I read and oh my gosh they are gorgeous), and other forms of communication to create a such a unique and engrossing tale. And the inspirations of French colonization and South Asian culture, mixed with the fantasy magic of necromancy, and the advancing technological descriptions just made for such an incredible setting that was rendered stunningly. From the first page onwards, I was absolutely smitten with this story. I loved everything from the shadow players to the burlesque girls, from the rebellion to the Chantrays’ journey to get to Aquitan, from Jetta’s relationship with her family to the slow-burn romance with Leo. It was like…if Miss Saigon was merged with a fantasy world of dark and twisting origins, but ten times better, obviously. It was amazing how there was so much happening that there were many times I felt like I was coming up on the end of an act, only to discover I was absolutely nowhere near it. It was just a constant flow of events and revelations, with so much occurring and so much movement that when plot twists came about, I would realize that I had not even had the time to consider their possibility. They didn’t even feel all that shocking, but revealed another layer of the story that gave it so much more depth and interest that it just made me even more excited to keep going. I really wanted to like Jetta as a character when I first met her, not only because she is a theatre person like me, but also because of her moral greyness about her abilities to see and control souls. She is bipolar, although she calls it a “malheur,” and her biggest goal is to make her way to Aquitan where she hopes to find a cure for it. On the one hand, I really loved how she wasn’t afraid of the spotlight, how much she enjoyed the exultation of being applauded, the power of putting on a show, but also how that thrill also appeared in other ways that made her hesitate and question herself at times. On the other hand, many of her decisions and the resulting effects of her actions during her journey left me feeling a little angry at her at times. Jetta makes very impulsive and rash decisions at times, never really thinking things through, and while I understand that this is often a symptom of being bipolar, I just wish her regret over her actions had been more apparent sooner. There was some shown about halfway through, when she first heard of what her actions against the armée’s questioneur caused, but things moved on so quickly from there that I wasn’t sure if she ever really dealt with that guilt she felt. It wasn’t until almost the end that she really seemed to make sense of all she had done and what it all had led to, so I felt like that it was only the beginning of her character’s development. Still, seeing this mental illness represented in Jetta was excellent, and definitely gave me a better idea of what it is like for those suffering from it. The ups and downs of it and the way others around her treat her because of it – all it of it gave such a clear picture of what it is like to deal with this malheur, along with the hopes and desires to find a way to cure it.I think one of the strongest points of this book were the relationships. Jetta and her family share a strong one, and their journey together only emphasized it. At first, I felt like her mother was a little too paranoid at times, but over the course of the novel her actions and fears grew to make sense, especially where concerning her protection over Jetta. In contrast, we see Leo’s strained relationship with his own biological family, and how much he desires to be wanted by his father despite how his father disregards him. Leo does, however, still have the family he made with the girls who work at La Perl, the burlesque that he owns and runs in Luda, and I love how much he cares for them. I really enjoyed how easy and open Jetta and Leo were with each other over the course of the novel. They each had difficulties in their past, parts of their family history that were painful, but they weren’t afraid to talk about it with each other. I loved that their relationship wasn’t perfect, that they didn’t immediately fall for each other, that the spark grew slowly over the course of the book, but that even in the end, their decisions didn’t always keep the other in mind, and that they didn’t put each other first above all else. It’s a difficult romance, one that definitely still needs more time, and one that also had a lot to work through. (view spoiler)[The way things end with them might feel final, but knowing my French, it also feels like a bit of hope.  I still cried, though, because so much was said in those so few words, and the way Leo signed his name said so, so much. (hide spoiler)]This book is a journey, one full of strong characters, incredible world-building, a beautiful union of different story-telling styles and inspirations, and so much action and intrigue that it is difficult to put down. It is dark and bright, full of hope and life but also fear and death, good decisions and bad ones. This is a story that will leave you breathless and wanting more, despite all that it already gives you. 4.75 stars
    more
  • Casey Lyall
    January 1, 1970
    This book was so gorgeous. The world building is incredible. It's definitely a book that I want to read through multiple times because I find new things to love with every pass. The magic elements were fascinating - I can't wait to see how that party of the story plays out. And I also really liked that it wasn't romance heavy. It was more about family ties and how tangled they can be. More amazing characters than I could begin to name, but I especially loved Cheeky.Another amazing read from Heid This book was so gorgeous. The world building is incredible. It's definitely a book that I want to read through multiple times because I find new things to love with every pass. The magic elements were fascinating - I can't wait to see how that party of the story plays out. And I also really liked that it wasn't romance heavy. It was more about family ties and how tangled they can be. More amazing characters than I could begin to name, but I especially loved Cheeky.Another amazing read from Heidi Heilig. Her books are always an experience to savour so make sure you make time for this one.
    more
  • ak
    January 1, 1970
    Got an ARC of this from the author. This book was overwhelming to me! I’m not sure why. Possibly the dead brother. Possibly just a really rich world building which often overwhelms me because I have to create a whole new brain space for this entirely new world. But I loved it too? It’s not a quick and easy read but it did suck me in. I want more.
    more
  • Christina (Ensconced in Lit)
    January 1, 1970
    I got through about 30%, but personally, I wasn't into the story, the world, or the characters, and the way it was split up into different formats, prose, play, and other forms really took me out of the story, so I wasn't able to continue. For me, this was a pass.
    more
  • Breanna
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars ✨
  • Megan
    January 1, 1970
    AAAAHHHHHH AAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!That's all I got.
  • Joanne
    January 1, 1970
    Originally published on Once Upon a Bookcase.Trigger Warning: This book features offpage mass murder, but seeing the result of mass murder on page - the dead bodies, on page murder, off page torture, racism, suicidal ideation, and discusses suicide.The Girl From Everywhere and The Ship Beyond Time are both such incredible books, so beautifully written, that their author, Heidi Heilig, flew to the top spot amongst my favourite authors, to be joint most favourite. So I have been dying to read For Originally published on Once Upon a Bookcase.Trigger Warning: This book features offpage mass murder, but seeing the result of mass murder on page - the dead bodies, on page murder, off page torture, racism, suicidal ideation, and discusses suicide.The Girl From Everywhere and The Ship Beyond Time are both such incredible books, so beautifully written, that their author, Heidi Heilig, flew to the top spot amongst my favourite authors, to be joint most favourite. So I have been dying to read For a Muse of Fire, the first novel in a brand new high fantasy trilogy, ever since I first heard about it. And it's absolutely incredible!Jetta is a shadow player along with her parents - Le Ros Nai, a troupe that is well known as being one of the best shadow playing troupes around. This is down to Jetta's peculiar ability. Since she almost died in a fire, she's been able to see the souls of the dead, and to bind them to her fantouches using her blood, and able to control them. But magic has been forbidden since her land was colonised, so she must do all she can to keep her ability a secret - which is difficult when she can see the souls everywhere. But her family's fame may just buy them a ticket on the royal ship to Aquitan, where they can play for the Emperor, who adores shadowplays. But it's not the the Emperor's praise they're after; it's rumoured that the Emperor has a spring that cures him of his madness, and Jetta has a madness of her own she's desperate to be rid of. But as the rebels who are fighting against the armée step up their game, Jetta and her family get caught in the middle of things. All their plans get turned on their head, and they find themselves in danger, with only the help of a smuggler to escape.Aah, I loved this book! It's exciting and completely gripping, with such awesome edge-of-your-seat suspense scenes towards the end, but also horrifying and heartbreaking. Jetta is living in a world in which her country, Chakrana, has been colonised by the Aquitans. General Julian Legarde, who is based in Chakrana with the armée, is thought of as a hero, for dispensing with Le Trépas, a monk who used dark magic and terrified the people, and magic is now forbidden. But not everyone is happy with the world they live in now, with the armée constantly breathing down their necks. There is a rebel force, led by someone only known as the Tiger, and slowly but surely, the rebels are growing from an annoyance fro the armée to a dangerous band that needs to be wiped out.The book starts with Jetta and her family, Le Ros Nai, making their way to Luda, where La Fête des Ombres takes place - an event in which troupes of shadow players put on events. This year, General Legarde is judging the shadow players, and the best will be picked to join his daughter, Theodora Legarde - Le Fleur d'Aquitan (The Flower of Aquitan), and Raik Alendra, the Boy King of Chakrana for their wedding, the King's coronation, and to sail to Aquitan to put on a show for Le Rou Foi (The Mad King), the Emperor of Aquitan, who is obsessed with shadow plays. The reason Jetta and her family want to perform for the Emperor? Because it's told he has a spring that cures him of his madness, and Jetta wants to cure her own. And they are sure they will be the troupe to be picked to perform for the Emperor due to a peculiar ability Jetta has to see the souls of the dead, and to bind them with her blood to her fantouches. An ability she must never reveal. But before too long, there are explosions as the rebels attack the army encampment at Luda, and Jetta and her family get caught in the cross hairs. Laila, the water buffalo that pulls their roulotte, becomes terrified, and pulls them through the chaos as the Aquitan armée and rebels fight. There will be no La Fête des Ombres, there will be no performance, there will be no journey to Aquittan. Desperate to make sure she gets on that ship, after the worse of the chaos has died down, she runs after General Legarde to show him what she can do - but her mother quickly stops her before she can show too much - but not soon enough. Capitaine Xavier Legarde - General Legarde's son - has some questions for Jetta about how her fantouches work, and it's only with the quick help of Leo, the perprieter of Le Perl, a show hall, Jetta and her family manages to escape. But still, the family are desperate to get on that boat to Aquitan, so they head for the capital, where the celebrationd of The Boy King's coronation and wedding will take place, and then the story really gets going.I haven't told you anything thus far that is a spoiler; all of this happens within the first few chapters. Then, until perhaps maybe halfway, the story slows down quite a bit. At first, I was wondering when things would pick up and start happening, but this slower paced half of the story is actually really important for later down the line. This is the time when - as Jetta, her Maman and Papa, and Leo are travelling - that we really learn about the world they live in, the politics, Jetta and her abilities, and really get to know the characters. It's a little slower, sure, but it's still captivating and really interesting, and it's actually very needed. When things pick up later on, they move very, very fast, and the slower half makes it much easier to follow what's happening when things get seriously interesting. Because we know about all the characters, the people in power, the relationships between these people, and what everyone's motivations are, there's no confusion when things really step up a notch. And even though it's slower paced, it doesn't drag. For a Muse of Fire is almost 500 pages long, but it actually goes by really fast, due to all the extras. For a Muse of Fire includes flyers and posters, maps, sheet music and songs, telegrams, letters, and even some sections which are written like a script - usually parts that don't involve Jetta, from Leo, General Legarde, Capitaine Legarde, and other soldier's perspectives. So with the ephemera and the unique formatting, I found myself flying through the book, so the slower half isn't actually all that slow for long.For a Muse of Fire is an #OwnVoices novel for bipolar, although the word is never used in the book. We know Jetta has bipolar from Heilig's Author's Note at the end of the book - but Heilig has promoted the book online as having a main charcter with bipolar, too. Jetta refers to her mental illness as her "malheur", which is French for "misfortune", and as her madness. Although the sole reason for Le Ros Nai wanting to perform for the Emperor is so Jetta can maybe use his spring, and is the driving force for the family, this isn't a story that is about mental illness. Really, it's a high fantasy story that is about colonialism, oppression, and fighting for freedom. So although Jetta's bipolar is a big part of her life, it's not the sole focus of the story. Overall, we don't see a huge amount of how Jetta's bipolar affects her that I saw - there are a few times when she is obviously having an episode, but overall she seems ok, but that could be my privilege, and not knowing what to look for. Those who have bipolar, or know more about it, may see more that I just missed. However, Jetta does talk about having bipolar, and how it affects her. She recalls her first episode:'Suddenly it comes back to me [...] The first time I knew there was something wrong with me. It was years ago--I was eleven, maybe twelve. Teetering there, at the edge of the broken stone, looking over the water rushing through the lava tunnel. Inching closer and closer, standing on the edge of oblivion, imagining what might come after.Akra [Jetta's brother] found me there as the sun was setting--long after the other children had tired of losing the game of dares with me. He had taken my hand, led me home. He never said anything about it, but I think he knew, too.' (p446)*And how her ability to see and bind souls has nothing to do with her mental illness:'No, the spirit sight is not the same as my malheur. The ups and downs, the sudden passions or the deep melancholy--those are things that grew as I did, like my limbs, my hips, my hair. But the spirits appeared only after my brush with death.' (p76)*And then there are the few times when she has periods of mania and depression. She seems to experience mania, after a performance, and hearing the applause...'Papa has blown out the candles, but I can still feel the heat of the flame, warm on my back, in my hair, under my skin. Everything is intense, more real. Joy purrs in the pit of my stomach, and my blood fizzes like ginger beer. The air rings like a struck bell; I drink it in like honey. The dark itelf is like velvet on the bare flesh of my arm.' (p127-128)*...and has a depressive episode that lasts a number of weeks when she is travelling to the captial. The following quote is almost a whole chapter, missing two spoiler lines at the end, as the depressive side of Jetta's bipolar makes itself known.'Time passes differently underground; I cannot count the days. We have stopped to eat several times, though I can't remember exactly how many, nor what we ate. Nor if I ate. But it doesn't matter that much. I am not hungry.The crawling feeling persists on my skin, like a brush of hair or a spider's legs, skittering across the back of my neck.' (p199)*And then there is another whole chapter, that consists of three lines, as Jetta's depressive episode gets worse:'I wake from a dream, but it is still dark. If it was a dream.If I am awake.' (p203)*She also worries and thinks about how others view her because of her mental illness. There was a moment, when during a manic episode, she goes to kill Leo in a temple, and he kindly rejects her kiss, and believes it's because of her malheur. But then there's this moment, after her depressive episode:'"It's beautiful."Pride floods in; I try to summon some modesty. "It's hard with the rationing. Copper rivets are impossible to find."He puts the piece back down, out of the rain, and gives me a crooked smile. "I'll keep that in mind the next time I want something from you."I widen my eyes, taken aback. Is he toying with me, or have I misunderstood him? A week ago, his look might have made my heart beat faster, but after the temple, I'm not sure what to think. And more than that . . . I seem to have lost my rhythm during the long days in the dark; the spark has flared out, along with the manic energy of my malheur. Is that why he pushed me away in the first place? Not because I am mad, but because he knows my madness clouds my judgement?' (p216)*When it comes to Jetta and her mental illness, and his view of mental illness in general, I'm a pretty big fan of Leo, especially after he says this:'"Madness doesn't make you good or evil. Actions do. And those are all you're own."' (p279)*But Leo has outside experience of mental illness himself - his mother died by suicide. I really liked Leo, to be fair. The romance is a slow burn, and is quite cute, and Leo himself is quite a complex person. He is biracial, half-Chakran and half Aquitan, and this is a big deal. Relationships between Chakrans and Aquitans aren't forbidden, but they are frowned upon, and as the child of such a relationship, he is subjected to racism. He is called "moitié", which in Jetta's world means "mixed", and it's a terrible racist slur, and he is viewed with disgust. It's awful to read, even more so as Leo's father, an Aquitan, wants nothing to do with him. It's just disgusting. But Leo is, unfortunately, used to it, and is able to deal with it, and is just such a great guy who is funny, rogue-ish and just really awesome. I loved him! I loved most of the Chakran characters in For a Muse of Fire, they're all just brilliant, and fully developed, complete people.But there are the characters who are just completely abhorent. General and Capitaine Legarde, oh my god. And pther soldiers in the armée. The results of colonialism are just horrific, and part of me thinks that most Chakran's either don't realise quite as bad as it is, or are pretending everything is fine to keep their heads on their necks, because General Legarde is seen as a hero for getting rid of Le Trépas. But what's actually happening in Charkrana is appalling.We get an idea of what has happened in the past in a conversation with Leo, when Jetta tells him that she used to have a brother:'"What happened?"[...] "He joined the armée, three years back. During the famine seasone, do you remember?""No room for rice," he says, and I nod, remembering the whispers that swelled to shouts as the months dragged on. Rice is life--if there is no room for rice, there was no room for Chakrans. And while plantation owners moaned about their lack of income and how they couldn't afford their dresses or their entertainment, the rest of us starved, unable to afford the rising price of food. That was the year the rebels coalesced around the Tiger--the year they first burned a plantation, the year they began to make war instead of trouble.' (p154-155)*It's just one example of how little regard the Chakran people are given - but that's not surprising when the Aquitans have forced their way in with violence and taken over control of land and people not their own. They have absolutely no respect for the Chakrans, their culture, or their beliefs.'Past the stairs, Leo and I emerge into the shattered ruins; the moonlight falls around in a silver curtain. The shrine has been broken like old bones scraped for marrow: a heap of rubble, grown over with vines and saplings, the carvings defaced with chisels, the statues facedown on the ground. The gold was rubbed from their faces and hands, the gems pulled from their hollow eyes. Now the gods are only celebrated in shadow plays. And isn't it strange how the Aquitans devour our stories but silence our prayers?' (p177)*The fate of Dar Som, and Chakran town, is absolutely horrific. With the letters, we discover that there is a Lieutenant who is power hungry. Lieutenant Pique tells Capitaine Legarde that he is following rebels, but Capitaine Legarde wants to know what proof he has that these people are rebels. It's quite clear that Pique is just trying to twist things to make it look like they're rebels, but Capitaine Legarde sees through it, and orders him to stand down. He doesn't, and heads on to Dar Som. Later, Jetta comes across Dar Som, and the town has been completely burned to the ground, full of the blue souls of people who have had violent deaths, everyone killed. These were normal civilians, not rebels. And the soldiers knew that, Pique knew that, and yet they killed every single one of them anyway. It's absolutely horrifying. Those scenes as Jetta sees the town, and realises exactly what happened, for no reason, is absolutely heartbreaking, and rage inducing. This is just one of many instances when Jetta sees the reality of what having the Aquitan armée in Chakran means, and it's absolutely disgusting. And so it's unsurprising when things seem like they can't get any worse, Jetta has this reaction:'I have never abandoned hope, but at times, hope abandons me.I can feel it now, trying to escape, like the spark of my soul, all the light in me. I clench my fists as thought I can hold it close, but it slips out in my protests, my pleas, and finally, my bitter laughter. [Redacted] sneers down at me as though he knows I'm mad--but I have never felt more sane. It is the rest of the world that doesn't make sense.' (p352)*For a Muse of Fire is wonderfully diverse. As the description says above, this is a high fantasy inspired by Asian cultures and French colonialism. The Aquitans, the colonisers, are white, and the Chakrans, the people who have been colonised, are people of colour. And Jetta has bipolar (as we know) and is pansexual - another way For a Muse of Fire is #OwnVoices - although neither word are used in the book; and although the love interest is a cis male, it's quite clear that Jetta is attracted to other genders, too. There's a secondary character who is a trans woman, Tia, who works in Le Perl, and Theodora, Legarde's daughter, is fat, and considered to be possibly the most beautiful woman in the world.Before I end this review, there's just one more thing I'd like to touch on: the songs that feature in For a Muse of Fire. Some sung by the characters in the story, some included as part of the ephemera. Heilig has a background in writing musicals, and it really shows through the lyrics of these songs. They are so, so beautiful. Some really touched me personally, like the song Tia sings during a performance: "J’errais avec les fous, je me retrouve chez les âmes perdues,"' (p131)* translates to "I wonder with madmen, I find myself among lost souls." If I was the kind of person who would have tattoos, I would absolutely have this tattooed on me somewhere. And then there's this, from the first verse of a song called The Dream:'The path was straight but I have strayed.I can't turn back, I wish I'd stayed.The mountains climbed, the oceans crossed . . .The road is long and I am lost.' (p351)*The emphasis in bold is mine, another line that just really spoke to me, of how I felt when I was first diagnosed with a mental illness, how I felt, and getting better seemed like it was something so far off.For a Muse of Fire is absolutely incredible, and the cliffhanger the story ended with... my god, I can't wait for the sequel! Gripping and exciting, heartbreaking and horrifying - if you're a fan of high fantasy, For a Muse of Fire is not one to miss.*Quotes are taken from a proof, and I've not yet been able to check them against a finished copy, so they may not be correct.Thank you to The Bent Agency for the proof.
    more
  • Mercedes Roth
    January 1, 1970
    Recommend: YES! YOU ALL NEED TO PREORDER IT & SCREAM WITH ME!Review:AHHHH! This book was so damn good from start to finish. Oh my sweet hell, I loved every moment of reading and I wish I could go back and read it again for the first time. Wow, you all just need to be prepared to give up sleep and call in to work because you are NOT going to want to put this book down.The necromancy is amazing, the twists were unexpected and left me screaming, the details are beautiful, the characters are so Recommend: YES! YOU ALL NEED TO PREORDER IT & SCREAM WITH ME!Review:AHHHH! This book was so damn good from start to finish. Oh my sweet hell, I loved every moment of reading and I wish I could go back and read it again for the first time. Wow, you all just need to be prepared to give up sleep and call in to work because you are NOT going to want to put this book down.The necromancy is amazing, the twists were unexpected and left me screaming, the details are beautiful, the characters are so flawed and incredible, the plot takes off with a bang and left me gaping and flipping for more. I just, I can't explain how absolutely amazing this book is and how you all are NOT prepared to be amazed. I knew this book was going to be good, but I did not know it would have me desperate for the next sentence while wishing income slow down, laughing one minute and crying a little the next, craving more from one character while also terrified to see what was happening with them. I didn't expect the plot twists or the emotions. I didn't know I would be shipping a couple so hard I was literally screaming at the book for them to kiss. I didn't know I could be this desperate for a book to come out because it would put me that much closer to the sequel. And that ending? Y'all, I'm still looking for my heart.I kid you not, this book was insanely good and you will all be dying for the sequel. Feet ready now to be blown away!
    more
  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I received an arc of this book at Book Expo, but all opinions are my own.I'll start this review saying my reading of this book may have suffered from the environment I was reading it in, but I found myself unable to connect with this book. I should enjoy a story featuring ensouled puppets controlled by blood magic with a backdrop of colonial aggression - but for whatever reason, the stakes just didn't resonate.Jetta practices blood magic, which is banned by the Aquitans, and must be very clever I received an arc of this book at Book Expo, but all opinions are my own.I'll start this review saying my reading of this book may have suffered from the environment I was reading it in, but I found myself unable to connect with this book. I should enjoy a story featuring ensouled puppets controlled by blood magic with a backdrop of colonial aggression - but for whatever reason, the stakes just didn't resonate.Jetta practices blood magic, which is banned by the Aquitans, and must be very clever about performing her shadow plays so she is not caught by the army. Her father and mother perform with her, with their ultimate goal of moving to Aquitan and having her bipolar disorder cured/managed by the hot springs in that country. This book is a lot of set up for the remaining two books in the trilogy.Possibly the second book will resonate with me more, as I found Heilig's second book in her Girl From Everywhere duology to be a much stronger book.
    more
  • Marissa Cecil
    January 1, 1970
    I received this ARC from BookCon. I was not a fan of the format (switching between chapters/acts), nor was I fan of the story. Even a few hundred pages in, I didn’t feel anything towards the characters. It was confusing, and the extra French words here and there did not add anything to the story. Luckily, I have taken some French, so I could keep up fairly well, but I cannot imagine attempting to read this without some kind of background in French. Don’t get me wrong, a few words here and there I received this ARC from BookCon. I was not a fan of the format (switching between chapters/acts), nor was I fan of the story. Even a few hundred pages in, I didn’t feel anything towards the characters. It was confusing, and the extra French words here and there did not add anything to the story. Luckily, I have taken some French, so I could keep up fairly well, but I cannot imagine attempting to read this without some kind of background in French. Don’t get me wrong, a few words here and there of another language is fine, but this was overdone in my opinion. I would like to say that I do appreciate the author’s note touching on diversity and mental illness that was interwoven through the story, but it just wasn’t done in a way that kept me interested.
    more
  • Megan
    January 1, 1970
    The history major in rejoiced with this book. It is not very often we see allusions to Southeast Asia, much less colonization. So seeing the colonization and rebellion of Vietnam used in a fantasy world was amazing. This book was absolutely gorgeous. Heilig weaves this story as if you yourself are watching a shadow play. All the characters are so interesting and it is fantastic to see mental illness in a main characters (Jetta suffers from bipolar, or "Malheur" as this world calls in). You becom The history major in rejoiced with this book. It is not very often we see allusions to Southeast Asia, much less colonization. So seeing the colonization and rebellion of Vietnam used in a fantasy world was amazing. This book was absolutely gorgeous. Heilig weaves this story as if you yourself are watching a shadow play. All the characters are so interesting and it is fantastic to see mental illness in a main characters (Jetta suffers from bipolar, or "Malheur" as this world calls in). You become enraptured in the story and with the characters. I cannot wait to read more of this world and to see more of Jetta and the others.
    more
  • JM Cabral
    January 1, 1970
    Actual rating: 4.5 ★This was one hefty book that I had a challenging time reading at first but ended up loving. The first half of the story felt a little too slow for me, but I tried to understand that this was the point where the author usually does the world building, allowing readers to first get a glimpse of the world, the culture, as well as the people. However, after I read a certain part of the book, the pacing suddenly got a lot better and so I think it's safe to say that I greatly enjoy Actual rating: 4.5 ★This was one hefty book that I had a challenging time reading at first but ended up loving. The first half of the story felt a little too slow for me, but I tried to understand that this was the point where the author usually does the world building, allowing readers to first get a glimpse of the world, the culture, as well as the people. However, after I read a certain part of the book, the pacing suddenly got a lot better and so I think it's safe to say that I greatly enjoyed reading the second half of the book.Overall, I enjoyed every single aspect of the story (well, maybe except for the pacing, if I'm being completely honest) from the mental illness rep, to the incredibly slow burn romance, and the unique addition of several ephemera. Also, just so you guys know, there will be actual audio files for those who will pre-order, since the book features 4 original compositions from Heidi Heilig herself. (Please correct me if I'm wrong!)Full review to come. For now, here's a short blurb:"Heidi Heilig's newest book is an #ownvoices novel that's incredibly diverse, inspired by Asian cultures, featuring a colorful and well-grounded cast of characters whose individual stories all deserve to be told. With a writing style that's interestingly unique, a center-plot that's perfectly alluring, and emotionally investing lead roles, For A Muse of Fire will no doubt be a powerfully groundbreaking YA fantasy novel to look out for that's indeed perfect for fans of Roshani Chokshi, Sabaa Tahir, and Renée Ahdieh."Huge thanks to my friends from HarperCollins International for sending me a physical review copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. This did not, in any way, affect my overall opinion of the book and/or the story.
    more
  • Samantha Tan
    January 1, 1970
    4.5-4.75 stars, but went ahead and gave it the 5 stars because THAT'S WHAT IT DESERVES!Mental health rep in a fantasy world? Check!Asian rep? Check!Morally grey characters you will love? Of course!Magic system that I thought would creep me out but turned out to be utterly fascinated by? YUP!I knew I wanted to read FOR A MUSE OF FIRE when I saw the cover and read the description, started falling in love with it when I saw the snippet of sheet music for La Lumière, and truly fell in love with the 4.5-4.75 stars, but went ahead and gave it the 5 stars because THAT'S WHAT IT DESERVES!Mental health rep in a fantasy world? Check!Asian rep? Check!Morally grey characters you will love? Of course!Magic system that I thought would creep me out but turned out to be utterly fascinated by? YUP!I knew I wanted to read FOR A MUSE OF FIRE when I saw the cover and read the description, started falling in love with it when I saw the snippet of sheet music for La Lumière, and truly fell in love with the story as soon as I started reading it.First off, the characters are amazing. Jetta is the light of my life, and Leo is the fire that flowed through my veins as I turned each page. Second, the world that Heilig creates is so well-crafted and thought through. It feels so real, even- no, especially with the fantasy elements. Third, the plot kept me on edge, LITERALLY from the first chapter. Fourth, the prose are gorgeous, simply put.It is overall one of the best books I've read this year. It has everything I want from a fantasy novel: a unique magic system, complex characters (that I actually care about) who feel alive and real, and internal stakes that raise the external stakes. Plus, I love the fantouches. MORE FANTOUCHES IN BOOK 2 PLZ.Content notes (as listed in the ARC): mental illness (bipolar), blood use in magic, gun violence, war, colonialism, racism, descriptions of dead bodies, mention of reproductive coercion, mentions of torture, mentions of suicide(I received this book as a bookish wish granted on Twitter, c/o someone who works at HarperCollins.)
    more
Write a review