Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 460
captivating YA historical fantasy
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
EVERYTHING THAT BURNS is an enchanting YA historical fantasy. Camille now has the things she thought she wanted - a grand house, safety for her and her sister, and a printing press to print her father's revolutionary ideas. However, she seems to be unable to sell his pamphlets, and she is watching Paris go up in flames. The Revolution is taking hold, but it is leaving key people behind. One such group is that of young girls in a home together that is going to be destroyed because it is unsightly. However, it is all they have.

When Camille decides to help them by telling their stories, her passion for the project cannot help the infusion of magic she accidentally gives. When they capture people's attention across Paris, people begin to look at the changes a bit more closely. However, at the same time, the King's lies about magicians are spreading like wildfire, and magicians have become the enemy of the crown and the Revolution. They are lynched and murdered whenever found, and their trials are a farce - anyone can be accused of practicing magic with little evidence.

Camille and her friends who are born with magic, a defining feature like eye color, are afraid of the fervor that is taking hold. Even if she tries her hardest not to practice magic, Camille still feels at odds with the principles of the Revolution and the persecution and deaths that it seems to bulldoze past.

What I loved: A major theme of the book is about the cost of progress and which ends will justify what means. I found this an intriguing discussion, particularly after a march in which Camille sees the hope - and the unfortunate losses that are created along the way. Her pain, anguish, and internal conflict show throughout this and other passages, as she sees the Revolution with good ideas but also so much hatred for those who are different (in this case, mainly magicians). Freedom is a lofty goal, but for whose freedom people choose to fight is not always inclusive. This is a theme that can resonate throughout history.

Other themes in the book were equally as thought-provoking around racism in the military with Lazare, the power of art with Rosier and Sophie, and the power of parental approval that can be so hard to achieve. There come some powerful self-defining moments when characters must decide who they are and who they want to be, away from expectations, parents, and society. With the girls, there is also a theme about poverty and the powerlessness that one can have in arriving in such a situation. We also see how they can be misused by people in society and how dangerous these interactions could be, because the person who the authorities and communities will listen to is not always the person holding the truth.

The writing really sweeps the reader away in its lyrical nature. The flow is really perfect, and this was a book that was easy to get lost in. I was enchanted by Camille, her sister Sophie, and those around them. The romance really took a backseat, though we do see some of it with Camille and Lazare, but it was a nice addition - I did not feel that the story needed more, and I liked what was there.

What left me wanting more: As a small point, I did want a bit more resolution in terms of the Revolution and the themes around the morality struggles therein. We do get resolution on the other plots though, and generally, we can also see where the Revolution would go.

Final verdict: Enchanting, lyrical, and fierce, EVERYTHING THAT BURNS is a captivating YA historical fantasy with thought-provoking themes. I would definitely recommend considering this one for a book club read. Highly recommend for fans of THE GILDED WOLVES, THE BEAUTIFUL, and A GOLDEN FURY.
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