ELizabeth Knox is a renown writer from New Zealand. This is her latest novel targeted at Young Adults. It follows Dreamhunter and Dreamquake, both excellent books in their own right.
Mortal Fire was a joy to read and hard to describe.
In it Knox has created a landscape which almost seems recognizable and yet is full of magic and holds altered realities. The characters are strong and believable and we end up caring deeply for them and being drawn into their surreal world.
Canny is a girl of remarkable mathematical genius, in a blended family whose mother is of royal blood. Sisema's island nation is far off the mainland and is steeped in legend and mystery. She seems a strong and slightly detached mother to Canny. Sholto, Canny's step brother is a great guy who is a close companion for Canny. The stepfather is referred to as The Professor and remains aloof and sketchy at best.
Canny, Sholto and Susanne (his girlfriend) are on holiday in a small town investigating the fire in a mine in 1929. They end up in a mysterious valley where the Zarene family have lived for centuries. Magic happenings, runes and forces of good and evil appear from nature and there is a mystery to be solved.
I really enjoyed the story because for as much as it is magical realism it doesn't stray too far from reality thus avoiding being a fairy tale set in a kingdom with implausible characters.
Well worth reading this and her other two Young Adult books. Knox's most famous book is The Vintner's Luck.