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Winter of Fire

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  2,252 ratings  ·  200 reviews
In a grim future world where the sun has vanished from the sky, people glean what warmth and light they can from the firestones mined by an untouchable caste known as the Quelled. Countless taboos are shattered when Elsha, an idealistic and rebellious Quelled girl, is chosen to be handmaid to the Firelord—the man revered by those calling themselves the Chosen. Traveling in ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 321 pages
Published January 1st 1995 by Scholastic (first published January 28th 1992)
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Average rating 4.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,252 ratings  ·  200 reviews

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Jun 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Few YA novels are are well-written enough to be just as compelling when read as an adult - much less read as an adult for the first time, and not just revisiting a loved story from one's youth, with all the fond memories and nostalgia we bring to a re-read. But that is how I've just read this book, and I was extremely impressed.

The parable of slavery and repression is a familiar one; whether we consider the idea of women being subservient to men, or one people enslaving another - both of which a
dystopia/post-apocalyptic fantasy (less fantasy, reads more like an alternate world)

This book was so good I am finding it hard to talk about it.

To say I loved it is an understatement. I felt incredibly moved right from the beginning. And by the end I felt like I had emerged from reading the book somehow changed.

*wipes tear away* That's all I have for this review for now.

Julie Morris
Jun 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
One of the signs of a good book is its ability to grow with the reader. I read this book a long time ago and was caught up in the characters, emotion and the energy of the story, but it has been one of the few novels that has moved with me as I have changed. It couples simple entertainment with thought provoking themes seamlessly. There is something in the soul of this book that resonates with who I am.
May 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Read this when I was in 7th grade. The only book I have read multiple times. When my house burned down three years later, and I lost the only copy I had ever been able to find I was very upset. In an effort to find a copy I wrote the author, Sherryl Jordan, asking if she knew where I could find one. Two months later I recieved a package from New Zealand with an autographed copy from her library and a signed drawing she had done of the characters in the book. I still converse with her to this day ...more
Aug 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: just the same but brand new
Recommended to Mariel by: laughing with a mouth of blood
Boy cockatiels will freeze out a girl cockatiel if she sings. I find that to be the most depressing thing ever (I'm shooting dirty looks at my cocky buddies Lester the Molestor and Hey Jude as I type this. They never even attempted to do a Lauren Bacall whistling lesson for me!). There's a scene in the film Clueless when Breckin Meyer (can't believe I just mentioned THAT name) tells Brittany Murphy (or that one) that boys do those dangerous stunts and girls don't so they'll have something to imp ...more
Dec 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Hands down one of my favourites of all time. OF ALL TIME.
Everyone needs to read this book forever.
Mar 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ya, read-in-2011
This is a pretty decent fairy tale/fantasy with a little hint of post-apocalyptic goodness going on. Elsha is a sixteen year old girl and a member of a race of people who are "Quelled" - forced to work in mines all day with little food or shelter while suffering abuse from their wealthy, spoiled overlords (the Chosen) who brand them and believe that they can't speak and don't have any intelligence or souls. Elsha has always had a fiery spirit and likes to rebel. She also seems to have prophetic ...more
Dec 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult, 2015
I re-read this book to fulfill the "book from your childhood" category of the 2015 Reading Challenge as it was my favorite book for many years as I was growing up. I have a very clear memory of finishing it when I was a kid and then flipping back to the beginning to start it again right away. I was nervous to read it as an adult as I was afraid it wouldn't stand the test of time. While it wasn't good enough to flip back to page one and read again when I finished it, I'm happy to say I wasn't dis ...more
Nov 04, 2009 marked it as unavailable
Shelves: 3-star
Affecting. Haven't read it for years, but I remember:
On her birthday, Elsha stopped working in the mines for a moment and was punished for it. When her father asked her why she would be so stupid as to stop working, she said - To have a minute for myself; to think; to feel joy.
"God, Elsha!" he said. "For joy?"
Winter of Fire is an unconventional middle grade (or very juvenile YA) novel. In it, Sherryl Jordan tells the story of a special girl who overcomes her own slavery and strives to make the world a better place. This is fantasy with hints of post-apocalyptic fiction, and the set-up and idea worked well for me. However, I was troubled with some parts of Jordan’s execution, and in the end I didn’t love this book.

Our protagonist, Elsha, is a Chosen One. She was born not only a slave, but is considere
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm starting a new shelf in honor of this book. It will be called "deep sigh upon ending." I felt so many different emotions while reading Winter of Fire. I was not among the many that read this already when they were a young adult. I'm reading now as a 45 young adult.

I was moved by the strength and drive that Elsha (the main character) showed as she played handmaid to the Firelord. She never backed down, but was never disrespectful about disobeying the Firelord. She was fiery and passionate ab
Fantasy Literature
Jul 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
4 stars from Katie, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE

Sherryl Jordan is a New Zealand-based author of young adult and children’s fantasy fiction. In Winter of Fire (1993) she tells the story of Elsha, a sixteen year old girl born into the enslaved underclass called the Quelled. As the sun has disappeared from the world, a memory only alive in mythology, the Quelled are forced to mine for the firestones that are the people’s only source of warmth. But Elsha has a rebellious spirit and is
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
I remember reading this in high school (on my own, not for class) it was a book I had accidentally stumbled across in the library while I was browsing for something to read. i was so moved that a few years later, I read it again and found myself no less moved.

Part of me craves a sequel to this fantastic book (or a prequel) and part of me is happy the book was left the way it is. It's even more fascinating when you realize that the author implies that this dark world is what ours is in the future
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Sherryl Jordan's young adult books don't condescend to the reader, and that really attracted me when I was young. They're less "fantasy" and more "kinda-supernatural-alternative-world-fiction." Her female characters are strong without that annoying "Young girl comes of age in X culture" feminism that is sooooo overdone in young adult fiction. Definitely for teens.

This was one of my absolute favorite books as a kid. I must have read it once a week for at least two years. I even wrote the author o
Diana Sandberg
May 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
I’m afraid I just can’t quite warm up to Jordan. We read her Juniper Game a few months ago and I had a similar feeling about it. She has some good ideas, but I find myself wrinkling my nose at the characters: too self-consciously fey, too clever, too talented, too unreal. This was a read-aloud (daughters 10 and 13) and by the end we were all snickering at the main character’s talent for attracting gorgeous, devoted men.
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Somewhere in my childhood, I mentally classified this book in the 'perfect-for-me' category, despite never remembering a thing about it except scenes of darkness and bleak mountains, dim hearths and hushed voices. The fact that such a sooted landscape could stay so rooted in my brain speaks volumes about Sherryl Jordan's writing. People often criticize descriptive writing; Jordan knows how to do it right. I've only read this book a couple times in my life and each time I vividly recall an 'ahh, ...more
I read Winter of Fire for the first time in sixth grade ten years ago. I devoured the story, and it never really left me. Unfortunately, Winter of Fire is out of print, but every time I went to a used book sale I searched for it, until I finally found it for cheap on Amazon a few years ago. This was my third time reading Winter of Fire, and I have to say, it never gets old.

Winter of Fire is definitely a middle-grade book, which was a little hard to get used to after reading so many young adult b
Feb 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite things in the world is finding a good book that I've never heard of, and Winter of Fire defiantly filled those requirements. Even after finishing it this afternoon, I am still finding myself thinking about the amazing world and wonderful characters that Mrs. Jordan created. The main character is Elsha, one of the enslaved race called the Quelled. She is chosen by The Firelord to be his handmaiden and Elsha begins on a quest to bring equality to her world. While the whole 'slav ...more
Mar 10, 2012 rated it liked it
I was actually slightly disappointed in this book. I liked the spunk of the main character, Elsha, but all of the other females in the book seemed to be just tacked on so that the male to female character ratio wouldn't be so overwhelmingly male. None of the other female characters had anywhere near the level of interest that the surrounding male characters did.

And, the ending seemed almost like a Deus ex machine - where everything was wrapped up almost too neatly by the people learning how to "
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book. The journey of Elsha of the Quelled blends relevant social commentary with allegory while remaining absolutely age appropriate. It tickles the dystopic-future itch but stays a wonderful fantasy with a fully-developed world.

I especially appreciate the way Jordan approaches romance. Unlike so many YA novels, "Winter of Fire" doesn't throw Elsha into a love triangle between two dark princes. Instead, she meets a variety of men who all mean something to her in the various s
Sep 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, and I'm so sorry it's out of print! I thought Elsha was an amazing character, and I had a lot of sympathy for her. It's true, one reviewer said, that she's very reckless sometimes, and does some stupid things. But, to me, that made her character more vivid and believable.

The book does have one or two problems. Definitely, Elsha relies a little too much on men, and I can see how her relationships with them might bother some readers -- though I think they are very true-to-life,
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shelves-of-gold
Elsha is one of the Quelled, a race of slaves who are branded with marks on their foreheads, marked forever as those who will mine coal for a frozen world. The coal warms those of the privileged race. Elsha, however, has a gift that may lead not only to her own salvation, but that of her people, and even the world.

I read this book when I was in junior high, and I adored it. I tracked it down recently and bought a copy to read again. Although as an adult I saw the plot as a little more obvious, I
Autumn Kalquist
Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I love this book. I guess I really connected with Elsha and still do. It's the one book I've read over and over since I got it at a school book sale when I was 11. (I'm almost 29, so it's been my favorite for a long time!)

I remember all my classmates being scandalized during lunch when I shared the scene of Elsha dancing around the fire. The cover of my original copy has nearly fallen off, but I bought a replacement hardcover a few years ago. I'd love to see this come out on Kindle. It's apparen
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
My favorite childhood book. I first read it in 6th or 7th grade when I stumbled upon it in the school library. I love the main character Elsha and she gave me courage during my middle school years. It's a really good read and I recommend that everyone should at least give it a chance! It teaches important life lessons and values all the while getting you hooked into a good story that has you non-stop reading until the very end!
Oct 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
This book is awesome. I cannot praise it enough. I have read and re-read this book. What are you waiting for?!
May 03, 2010 added it
I fell in love with this book in high school- ten years later and it is still one of the few books I keep on me when I travel.
Jul 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in middle school and I fell in love with it. A teacher lent me this book and I haven't been able to find a copy since.
Kristen Jacobsen
Feb 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book ever. The only book I've read more than twice.
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
I really liked this book, I loved the character's journey and her struggles. It was an easy read, but really enjoyable!
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was one of my favorite books as a teen (giving away my age there).
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Award-winning New Zealand author Sherryl Jordan began her writing career with picture books, but soon moved on to novels for older readers. Her breakthrough came with Rocco, published in the United States as A Time of Darkness, and since that time she has gone on to pen many more titles for young adult and juvenile readers that have been published both in her native New Zealand and throughout the ...more

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“The earth grieves, and I grieve, and I am weary of the fight” 8 likes
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