Author: Tamora Pierce
Title: Cold Fire
Series: The Circle Opens 3
Genre: High Fantasy
Rating: Three Petals
On the Author's Website:
Daja and Frostpine expect to have a peaceful winter's visit with old friends in Kugisko, a port in the vast empire of Namon. But there is no peace when mysterious fires begin to blaze across the vulnerable city. Daja assists Bennat Ladradun, a local firefighter with a tragic past, to fight the flames. The two become fast friends-until they realize the fires have been deliberately set, and their relationship is deeply tested. Daja's magic helps her track down the firestarter, but no magic can protect her or Ben from the effects of madness and betrayal.
Daja has traveled a long way to the north where snow and ice cover everything and she has to be bundled up in front of the fire most of the day. Except, someone is starting fires that are killing people and to find the arsonist, Daja must learn to step out on her own, even when she might be the next victim.
This book was a turning point in Pierce's writing ability. Suddenly the books in this series went from being very juvenile in writing style, to very adult. The plot and the characters were fully fleshed out, including the two students Daja takes on (which was a nice change from the previous two books where the students were annoying afterthoughts). The mystery of the arsonist combined with Daja's real growth as a person made me want to love this book, but unfortunately there's something missing.
I think my issue is with the bad guy. As a character, they appear to be fully realized, however, the motives that led them to do bad--while certainly real--just didn't feel like they fit. The bad guy's interactions with Daja also made me uncomfortable in a way that reminded me just how young and inexperienced Daja is. The way the bad guy took advantage of her makes me cringe every time I reread this book, and I don't think Pierce meant to evoke that much of an unpleasant feeling on her readers.
As I said for all the previous books in this series, yes, I recommend them, but I don't recommend this book as strongly as the others. While I liked the more adult writing style Pierce used for this book, the bad guy's interactions with Daja made me very uncomfortable in a bad way, which is why this is my least favorite story in this quartet.
Maggie reviews paranormal and fantasy novels and novellas. She also interviews authors and hosts giveaways.