“Long ago, as the Firelings’ Story Stones tell, Belcher, then a blundering sky-creature, put his foot right through the sky and went falling into a sea of his own brine. Deep in Belcher’s belly inner fires still kindled, and to appease his rumbling appetite hapless victims had occasionally to be sacrificed down what was called the Long Slip. This had not happened for some time, but when Belcher again developed a bellyache and gave voice to his discomfort with cantankerous grumblings and growling, the Firelings began to whisper among themselves that the time had come for another victim to be sent the way of the Long Slip…”
The Firelings by Carol Kenall is a book I was on the hunt for but my sister kindly sent me a copy, along with two other Kendall books for Christmas. I really enjoyed reading all three books and can see why my sister loves them too. I have to say, ending with The Firelings was the best way to finish up this mini Kendall marathon read. It is definitely the best of the three for me. Each book just got better and better as I read. The Firelings is really special though. It really dug deeper emotionally than The Gammage Cup or The Whisper Of Glocken did.
The Firelings is also unique from the other two Kendall books because the enemy is not another group of people; its nature in the form of the volcano the Firelings call Belcher, and themselves. I usually like to write my own summaries, but the one above perfectly captures what to expect from this book, without revealing too much and gives you an example of Kendall’s style of writing. There is a lot going on in 252 pages and it’s done well. We have a younger generation of Firelings, who don’t remember much from the last time a morsel was fed to Belcher, but they are determined that it will not happen again and work together to see that it doesn’t. There are those of the older generation too, who will not be bullied and stand up to those who insist they sacrifice someone else to Belcher.
There are some very good twists and revelations that have you gripping the book tight. I want to talk about some of the situations and the characters but I feel I will end up giving too much away and I think this book is better enjoyed not knowing anything else going in so you feel the surprise and excitement when you start to figure things out on your own. And these characters are not slow to catch on either. They are smart and brave, which just adds to the enjoyment of this book. Another plus - and this will be the only slightly spoiler-ish bit I’ll add - is that nobody is paired up at the end. You only get a sense of deep admiration these characters have for each other after everything that has happened and it’s just refreshing and wonderful.
I’d also like to point out the great cover art on my copy. I really love the detail in it from the individual stones that make up the path, the green lichen on the rocks and the swirling purples, blues and orange used for the volcano and sky. Having such lovely cover art to accompany an enjoyable book made this reading experience one of the best I’ve had so far this year.