Glow of the Fireflies
Briony never planned to go back to the place she lost everything.
Firefly Valley, nestled deep within the Smoky Mountains, is better kept in her past. It’s been six years since an unexplained fire gave Briony amnesia, her mother disappeared, and her dad moved them away.
But now her grandmother needs a caretaker, and Briony's dad insists she be the one to help. The moment she returns, she feels a magical connection to the valley, as if it's a part of her somehow.
And when she meets a hot guy named Alder who claims he was her childhood friend but now mysteriously keeps his distance, Briony starts piecing together her missing past...and discovers her mother didn't leave to start a new life somewhere. She's trapped in the hidden world within the valley.
Now, Briony will do whatever it takes to rescue her, even if it means standing up against dangerously powerful gods. But when saving her mother comes with the ultimate sacrifice–Alder’s death–how can she choose?
When Briony returns, she has her BFF in tow. As she starts to look around, she realizes that the memories of her past were more complicated than she could have expected. Her mother also may not have left by choice, and she tells Briony how to set her free. Briony begins the process, accompanied by a friend from her childhood, Alder, who helps her to remember.
The book is fast-paced without a lot of details bogging it down. We learn everything relatively fast (though there are definitely some twists in store) and move through it relatively quickly. I found the world-building to be a little too fast for my taste and would have liked more reluctance/maybe to see more memories as they come back to her (flashbacks would have been cool). However, this does keep the pace quicker, so it has its own appeal. The romance is really well done and, in my opinion, the strongest part of the story. I really loved the way it came together.
This book was fairly light-hearted with plenty of humor mixed in with the serious fantasy. This air was great for the other world, fitting with it well and adding some whimsy. I would have liked to go a little deeper into it, and would definitely be up for a sequel. I liked the characters quite a bit (mainly Briony and Alder, as others are very secondary).
A strong romance and interesting plot keep this book moving fast, great for YA fantasy lovers looking for a light-hearted and quick read.