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For A Muse of Fire

Review

For A Muse of Fire

Action-packed and full of heart, FOR A MUSE OF FIRE by Heidi Heilig is a lush, intricate must-read novel. Heidi Heilig knits elements of character, plot, setting, identity and magic into an epic masterpiece that will leave readers hungry for the next volume.

"A MUSE OF FIRE is a mixed-race, bipolar, queer protagonist on an epic, rage-filled, revolutionary journey through a lush, illustrative landscape."

Jetta has a secret. She has actually has a few. Her most potent, dangerous secret must remain hidden...because it's what keeps her family alive. In Aquitan-colonized Chakrana, there are few options for native Chakrans. The Aquitans, based off of French colonialists, despise the Chakrans, and see them as lesser, yet they crave Chakran gems, sugar and their shadow theater. Jetta's family is the most talented troupe of theater players in the land...but not only because of her skill with string and light. No, Jetta can see the souls of the recently dead (and there are many in her war-torn homeland) and bind them to puppets. This gift is forbidden, but it keeps her family's shadow play in high esteem, and allows them to survive in a fraught colonial landscape.

But her dark magic isn't Jetta's only secret. She, in her words, suffers a "malheur," which today's readers will recognize signifies her as bipolar. She uses her skills to endeavor a place for her family aboard a royal ship towards the Mad Emperor --- a dangerous trek, but one that might bring her a salve for her malheur. Heilig writes with expertise here, and Jetta's malheur is well-evoked and explored with care. As rebellion snakes its way through the land and Jetta meets a young smuggler who is more than what he seems, she makes a series of discoveries that upend her whole life, and those of her family.

A MUSE OF FIRE is a mixed-race, bipolar, queer protagonist on an epic, rage-filled, revolutionary journey through a lush, illustrative landscape. This novel is interspersed with immersive sheet music, telegrams, scripts and letters, breathing life into a rich setting. Nuanced, compelling characters entangle in complex dynamics. A dark, fresh take on magic and necromancy. If all of that sounds up your alley, don't miss this exquisite book! 

Reviewed by Maya Gittelman on January 1, 2019

For A Muse of Fire
by Heidi Heilig