Enchanting and captivating ... It is a book that is on another level

Judges’ Report, New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

Mortal Fire

Mortal Fire was the first ever Young Adult release for Gecko Press. It has stunning writing, a compelling plot and a strong female protagonist.

Available as an ebook wherever you buy your ebooks

  • Description

    In Mortal Fire, sixteen-year-old Canny comes from the Pacific island, Southland. After setting out on a trip with her stepbrother and his girlfriend, she finds herself drawn into the enchanting Zarene Valley. And the mysterious but dark seventeen-year-old Ghislain who helps her figure out her origins.

    Mortal Fire was the first ever Young Adult release for Gecko Press. It has stunning writing, a compelling plot and a strong female protagonist.

  • Book Details

    Country of Origin New Zealand
    Reader Age 11-14 year
    Book Size

  • Reviews

    1. The Spinoff

      Lush, complex, romantic and layered.

    2. Bob’s Books Blog (NZ), April 2013

      Elizabeth Knox is a wonderful writer and she keeps the reader in this 400 page novel with an imaginative plot … it really is for your exceptional reader. The gifted ones who adore fantasy and complicated stories.

    3. Judges’ Report, New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, June 2014

      Enchanting and captivating … a story of magic, mystery, love, desire and secrets that provokes thought and will leave you haunted. . It is a book that is on another level, while still containing the core YA material about finding out who you are.

    4. The Children’s Bookshop (NZ), May 2014

      A rich, vividly imagined fusion of reality and fantasy. Age 14+.

    5. South Taranaki LibraryPlus (NZ), May 2014

      Mortal Fire deserves a 10/10. [It] is an appealing must-read for any teenage girl who enjoys absorbing fantasy books. Canny is the ultimate heroine.

    6. Monkey Makes Three (NZ), June 2013

      Mortal Fire is [truly original].

    7. Sarah Laing, NZ Listener ‘What New Zealand Reads’, December 2013

      I loved … the magical valley in Elizabeth Knox’s Mortal Fire.

    8. Your Weekend, Dominion Post, June 2013

      Elizabeth Knox tells an imaginative story with beautiful, intelligent writing. It is an intellectually passionate novel for young readers and adults who adore fantasy.

    9. Good, November 2013

      A fantasy novel set in an alternate New Zealand, mixing reality with legend. But even in the most magical places, tough decisions have to be made.

    10. IndieBound Summer Reading Catalogue, November 2013

      A compelling, intelligent YA novel from the author of Dreamhunter. When sixteen-year-old Canny sets out on a trip with her stepbrother and his girlfriend she is drawn into enchanting Zarene Valley where a mysterious boy helps her figure out her origins.

    11. Unity Books Newsletter, November 2013

      Elizabeth Knox returns to Southland in her latest novel of magic and mystery… This is consummate fantasy storytelling from one of New Zealand’s best.

    12. New Zealand Herald `Best Books to give and receive’, November 2013

      This is a flawless jewel of a book, an entrancing and at times tragic story, so cleverly crafted that there is not a scrap of plot or a line of text that is superfluous or out of place… Mortal Fire is far and away the best book I have read this year. It is the first YA offering from the always-quality Gecko Press and hopefully will not be the last.

    13. The Golden Adventures of A Very Dark Horse Blog, November 2013

      Canny has unexpectedly taken her place as a favourite fictional character of mine. Complex, powerful and vulnerable, there is an authenticity about this character…it was a breath of fresh air to read a story that took it’s time in the telling. One that lingered lovingly in its setting, cleverly unfurling its tentacles at just the right moment. I found myself breathing out great sighs of pleasure each night as I settled in to read…Super, super beautiful, unpredictable and memorable.

    14. The Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia Blog, October 2013

      A brilliant book, and certainly one of the best I have read this year … the richness of Knox’s writing is in describing Canny (and her experiences) superbly.

    15. NZ Books, September 2013

      [Knox’s] books are every bit as good as Mahy’s and Gee’s, but with an extra edge and sophistication belonging solely to her… Mortal Fire does not disappoint.

    16. Kid’s Book Review, September 2013

      It’s not often that I encounter a book so startlingly original that it just about takes my breath away… This is a truly satisfying read.

    17. Page & Blackmore Booksellers, September 2013

      The story combines wit, magic, cunning, and mystery to provide the reader with a totally new experience in reading, making for an exceptional read.

    18. Edutronic Reading Club, September 2013

      I quite simply love this author… Mortal Fire is a fine example of the subtlety, magic and striking realism of [Elizabeth Knox’s] fiction.

    19. Magpies, July 2013

      Elizabeth Knox has a wonderful ability to make the fantastic concrete without destroying the fantasy… What I admired most about this very enjoyable and highly original story is that readers are made to experience a series of small revelations (just as Canny does), each one leading towards another bigger revelation late on… Mortal Fire is a story to be experience and relished.

    20. Otago Daily Times, July 2013

      A multi-layered teen fantasy novel by award-winning New Zealand writer Elizabeth Knox, Mortal Fire is a fascinating blend of conventional plot and magical mystique… It is the mix of factual-sounding material with the magical that makes Mortal Fire a strong addition to the teen fantasy genre.

    21. 365 Days of Reading, June 2013

      Mortal Fire is an excellent choice for fantasy readers, especially those fond of complex storylines and devious plot twists. Highly recommended!

    22. The Listener Book Club, July 2013

      The judges of this year’s New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards lamented the lack of strong female characters in our young adult fiction. They need look no further than Elizabeth Knox’s Mortal Fire for such a character: Canny Afa is as smart, headstrong and fearless as she is prickly, diffident and good at maths… Much of the power of Knox’s storytelling derives from the way in which her imagination so closely adjoins reality… She overlays reality with imaginary places, people and histories with such deftness they seem to belong there.

    23. Kate de Goldi, Radio New Zealand National, July 2013

      What I think is so marvellous about this book is that although it is about the immaterial, Elizabeth has a great facility to lodge her characters, and then the reader, in the absolute materiality… I dive into her books with utter confidence that wherever I’m going to be taken is going to be meaningful… I think [Elizabeth Knox] is the pre-eminent heir to Margaret Mahy or Diana Wynne Jones.

    24. Alexa Loves Books Blog, June 2013

      Mortal Fire is dreamlike and imaginative, and hard to explain – but I really, really liked it… There are twists and turns, mostly because of the magic that runs amok, and there are separate stories woven together that need to be unravelled and mulled over and worked out. I loved that this book was a challenging read, but left me feeling utterly satisfied when I turned the last page.

    25. Cuddlebuggery Book Blog, June 2013

      It was clear from the beginning that Mortal Fire was a cut above most books… I was wrapped up in the story like one might be in a Spell Cage. Like walking through heavy snow to get somewhere important, when I got there, the trek seemed minimal compared to how happy I was to reach the destination. Definitely worth it.

    26. YAdult Review, June 2013

      I loved this…Knox included really lush descriptions of Zarene Valley, and the portrayal of emotions was really believable and done really well… this was just an amazing book.

    27. Listener Book Club, June 2013

      Sheila Sinclair: ‘This book just blew my socks off, it’s just amazing.’

      Guy Somerset: ‘I just loved it from beginning to end and I was completely gripped by it.’

      Liz Gillett: ‘This is definitely an exemplary choice.’

      Stella Chrysostomou: ‘I’m really fascinated by the worlds she creates and the magic she creates in them.’

    28. North & South, June 2013

      It’s a tale at once simple but complicated – the action is tightly contained and progresses at a satisfying pace; but there is much detail-heavy back story and history, dragged gradually from the shadows throughout the novel.

    29. The New Zealand Herald, June 2013

      It is a terrific publishing debut, gorgeously produced with shiny bees almost leaping off the cover… Knox excels at creating imagined worlds that you occupy fully as a reader, in part due to her sensual detail, elevating itself beyond the traditional fable… Knox writes with such a graceful hand that the story (despite its mist, steam and smoke) reverberates with exquisite clarity.

    30. Booksellers We Love Books Blog, June 2013

      With every page you come across a new facet of this parallel universe and you realise that this fictional world is somehow genuinely deep, just like our world. Endless possibilities lie folded into every crevice. Here’s hoping Knox lets us return to this imaginary geography again, some time soon.

    31. David Hill, Radio New Zealand National, June 2013

      Gecko Press have done a really first class job just in terms of the production and presentation of the book… It’s complex, it’s textured and, like Elizabeth’s other books, it’s the work of a quite a unique writer… It’s a book which constantly surprises you and rewards you as you work through it.

    32. tor.com, June 2013

      Canny is a kick-ass protagonist, smart and a little bit scary, but with enough compassion to make her three-dimensional… It is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

    33. Page & Blackmore Booksellers, June 2013

      Canny, our heroine, is a young woman questing to understand her heritage, her place … she discovers a world that is both magical and dangerous… As she realises her power she is drawn into this world, determined to save it and the ones she loves. Mortal Fire is intelligent writing for teens, filled with ideas and questions.

    34. Around the Bookshops, May 2013

      The whole book is painted over with a patina of something enchantingly extra in characterisation, plot, dialogue and setting and it is just possible, in spite of its 448 pages, to gobble it up at one greedy sitting and then to settle down for a more luxurious re-read.

    35. Margo Lanagan, author of Tender Morsels

      This book is finely-wrought magic from start to finish.
      It has brains; it has heart; it has people to fear and to fall
      in love with, and it all takes place in a totally beguiling
      world full of natural beauties, glittering puzzles and
      earthy problems. It’s a rich and satisfying read.

    36. Kelly Link, author of Pretty Monsters

      I love this book with all of my heart, which is not that
      surprising, since Elizabeth Knox wrote it. I love all of
      Elizabeth Knox’s books. Mortal Fire and its heroine,
      Canny, are that rare thing: real magic.

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