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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Review: Firelight

Firelight by Sophie Jordan. HarperCollins. 2010. Reviewed from ARC from publisher.

The Plot: Jacinda, sixteen, is a draki who broke the rules. A draki isn’t human – not quite. A draki is descended from dragons and has the ability to shift to human form. Flights are limited to night, when humans cannot spot them. Jacinda cannot resist an early morning flight. Hunters come – in helicopters and hummers, with nets and guns. Modern warfare against a not so mythical beast. Jacinda has exposed her pride. Her mother, afraid of the consequences the pride will inflict for Jacinda’s actions, flees the protected town of the pride to the outside world, hoping they can hide in plain sight.

Jacinda hates having to be something she is not, having to pretend to not be draki. Her twin sister, Tamra, who never manifested as a dragon, loves being at a normal school, having regular friends, trying out for cheerleading. Jacinda hates it. Then Jacinda meets Will. Instant connection. Only problem is…

Will is a hunter.

The Good: Sophie Jordan has written historical romances and paranormal romances, so I was really excited to read her foray in young adult books. It does not disappoint; I love the romance between Jacinda and Will. I especially love how Jacinda’s draki self (she’s a rare fire dragon) becomes a metaphor for female sexuality.

No, really. Jacinda’s draki manifests itself just seeing Will, and gets even more intense from touching and kissing him. Manifestation for Jacinda is ultimately changing into a fire dragon; along the way, her skin turns red, she feels physical changes within her, and her skin becomes hot to the touch. Here are some scattered descriptions of her manifesting, often in reaction to Will: “My flesh shivers. The tiny hairs at my nape prickle in alert.” “My skin blurs in and out, shimmering faintly, like I’ve been dusted with gold. The draki in me stirs, tingling, yearning to come out.” “I look back at Will and pleasure whips through me.” “My lungs expand with smoldering heat. I hold my breath. Suppress the heat at my core, the rumbling vibration inside me.” “That much-missed vibration ignites in my chest, spreads to my core. My skin snaps alive.” “My tightening skin heats, flashes a brief shimmer of red-gold.”

Now, part of this is that the draki inside responds to certain things including arousal and attraction. But part of it is also that in Firelight, the metaphor is sexuality.

The book begins with Jacinda wanting to fly as a draki on her terms, not her pride; in other words, wanting to experience sexuality on her own terms. Repercussions include the pride wanting to control her further, by forcing her into a “bonding” relationship with another draki to pass along her genetics and to produce more fire dragons. They literally want to control who she has sex with. Meanwhile, the hunters are seeking to destroy that which they don’t understand and they fear — the draki / female sexuality. Will falling for Jacinda is, on the surface, a star-crossed lovers romance. He is the hunter, she is the hunted. That doesn’t mean she is a victim; far from it. The drakis are so powerful that she is the stronger of the two. The hunters need weapons to take on the draki. Since the metaphor is sexuality, this is also about Will realizing that Jacinda / female sexuality is not something to be feared, not something to destroy.

The family’s escape from the pride and their town reads like an escape from a cult. Jacinda yearns to return to the pride because in the world she has to hide her draki self; the reader realizes that the pride is not the answer to Jacinda’s prayers. Then again, the outside world is not an answer, either. The family is no longer controlled by the pride (something Jacinda doesn’t fully realize, not at first), but the are hardly free if Jacinda has to hide her true identity, suppressing it until it dies. Will Jacinda be able to find a place where she can be herself, without fear? I look forward to reading the rest of this series to find out.

About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is


  1. Ooh, interesting premise – and hey, new remains of a previously undiscovered dinosaur have been discovered in Romania, so I’m sure it’s even timely! (Researchers: What? It wasn’t a dinosaur but a dragon…?!)

  2. I can’t quite pinpoint why I’m on the fence with this book. Dragons are quite unique in a market flooded with vampires and werewolves. I do have this so I will likely give it a go, hopefully I’ll enjoy it.

  3. tanita, I’ll have to look that up.

    michelle, like I said above, what got me hooked was the author. i wanted to see what an author used to writing for adults did with YA. i think this is my most focused review, almost to the point of being more a critical piece, because I don’t go into any of the other aspects at all — the dragon mythology, jacinda’s relationships with her mother & sister (much conflict, for different reasons), the new school. I’m really curious if the rest of the series continues with what I see as the primary metaphor, and how that can be resolved.

  4. Jen Baker says:

    Just finished this and really enjoyed it but hated that there was no ending. I know that’s a function of if being a series book, but there’s absolutely no conclusion to the story at all. I mean, the reason it bothers me is that I want to know what happens next right now which means I will be picking up the second one when it comes, but it’s frustrating none the less. I like series usually because I prefer having more time to get to know the characters, but I prefer the individual books within the series to have some closure to the main plot line. Definitely glad I picked it up though; it gave me a break from slogging through Infinite Days which I think I’m going to give up on soon.

  5. Jen, the cliffhanger suprised me! Usually in series, the first book has a resolution, and the second book has the annoying cliffhanger that you don’t get answered until the third book. So…I shouldn’t move Infinite Days to the top of my “read next” pile, huh?

  6. Jen Baker says:

    *Infinite Days light spoilers ahead (early chapters only)* When I read the premise of Infinite Days I was really excited by the concept – vampire is going insane so maker sacrifices himself for her so that she can become human again and finish her life, but she’ll have to hide from her followers – I mean how cool does that sound? And this has one of my favorite twists on vampire lore – they can’t physically feel things since their skin is dead. But the execution has not been good. The emotional motivations are not consistent and there’s just a lot of plot holes. She has to hide from the other vampires, but they don’t bother to change her name? She’s been asleep for 100 years, but in three days completely assimilates to modern culture except at times when it’s convenient for the plot? Despite a deep connection to her maker (and at least one other vampire), she immediately falls for the cute, popular boy with the mean girlfriend – even though she’s mourning the death of the love of her life? And we’re told over and over again how scary and powerful a vampire she was, but you never actually see it. There are absolutely fantastic individual scenes – the flashbacks to her time as a vampire are better than the modern stuff by far, although the scene where she hears music on a stereo at the library for the first time is also pretty good – but as a whole it just doesn’t hang together. And it’s sloooow (at least for me). A lot of people on Goodreads seem to have loved it, so maybe I’m just not the right reader for it, but it feels like wasted potential. My favorite paranormal read so far this year is Raised by Wolves by Barnes – so if you’ve got that in your read next pile, I’d definitely put it above Infinite Days.