Saturday, 21 July 2012

Fire in the Sea

Fire in the Sea Fire in the Sea by Myke Bartlett (Text Publishing)
PB RRP $19.99
ISBN 9781921922749
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

Fire in the Sea was the 2011 winner of the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing. Set during a hot Perth Summer, it is the story of Sadie Miller, a teenage girl who wants to be anywhere but where she is. The first chapter begins with menacing shadows in the water, then gets straight into the action as a mystery man is attacked. Sadie and her friend Tom go to the hospital and Sadie finds herself the recipient of a dead man's will. Suddenly, it seems, her life has changed.

Sadie inherits a big old house at 1 Ocean Street. Here she meets Jake, 'the most gorgeous boy she had ever seen'. He says he is the reincarnation of the old man at the beach and an envoy from the gods. Sadie doesn't believe a word of it, but eventually she must as she is drawn into his world of Minotaurs, Drowners and Demons. Since her parents were killed in a car accident, she has had problems facing the idea of death. Now she can no longer escape it as she fights for her own life against creatures she never knew existed.

An ancient box goes missing, which contains a demon. If the demon is released the future of the world is at stake. Sadie, Tom and Jake must find the box and give it to the Drowners under the sea before the whole city of Perth is engulfed by water. But when the box is opened it is up to Sadie to make a choice. Will she make the right one?

Sadie is a strong character, skeptical at first, then courageous. Apart from a couple of sections from Tom's point of view, the majority of the book is from Sadie's perspective, which is more effective.  The story is grounded in Aussie suburbia, a nice contrast to the fantastical events that unfold. This action packed tale is suitable for young adults from early secondary school onwards.

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