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Enna Burning, by Shannon Hale: Review

Updated: Oct 18, 2019

After helping Isi of Kildenree to reclaim her title as Crown Princess, Enna, born and raised in the forest of Bayern, is craving excitement. So when her brother, Leifer, returns home one night having unlocked the secret of fire-speaking, Enna's fear of his new power is matched by fascination.

When fire-speaking proves both powerful and deadly, Enna hears the call to discover its secrets and use its strength for good. But opening herself to a force as fierce and all-consuming as fire may cost more than Enna could imagine—including herself. Now, with war crouching on Bayern's horizon, Enna must decide: how far is she willing to take her gift, before her gift takes her?

Having been enchanted by Shannon Hale's, The Goose Girl, I couldn't wait to continue her Books of Bayern series, this time with a focus on Enna. The reunion with Isi, Razo, Finn and the other beloved Bayern characters was a delight not only in its familiarity, but in starting to understand them more intimately and falling more deeply in love with their camaraderie.

Enna is the counterpart of The Goose Girl's Isi in almost every way. She is audacious, quick-tongued, mischievous and stubborn, but her passionate nature lends itself to fierce loyalty when it comes to friendship and family. Though at times I found it difficult to relate to her personally, Hale's animate language relays Enna's struggles in a way that makes empathizing easy. And of course, Hale brings fire-speaking to life with descriptions that shape fire into a creature of its own.

Content Notes: While a captive in an enemy war camp, Enna is drugged as a means of being kept under control. She and Isi travel to a distant country to visit fire-worshipers (essentially fire-speaking experts) for advice, and she is generally superstitious as a character. Enna and her brother use fire-speaking to burn enemy soldiers to death. The story is free of both profanity and sexual content.

Enna Burning is the story of a girl's self-discovery—her journey to deciding who she is, and what she stands for. From the restlessness she feels at the novel's outset, to the exhilaration she gains from fire-speaking, to her fear and turmoil as fire threatens to consume her completely, Enna is lost in a whirlwind of desires and must recognize what is most important in order to find herself. In the end, friendship and selflessness shine true above the turmoil, and with such heartfelt themes as guilt, redemption, and forgiveness, make this book the powerful story it is!

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