Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mortal Fire” as Want to Read:
Mortal Fire
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mortal Fire

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  769 ratings  ·  181 reviews
Sixteen-year-old Canny Mochrie's vacation takes a turn when she stumbles upon a mysterious and enchanting valley, occupied almost entirely by children who can perform a special type of magic that tells things how to be stronger and better than they already are. As Canny studies the magic more carefully, she realizes that she not only understands it--she can perform the mag ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published June 7th 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mortal Fire, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Mortal Fire

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  769 ratings  ·  181 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Mortal Fire
Monica Edinger
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My blog review:

Even though Mortal Fire isn't out till June I want to write about it now to get the word out as it is simply spectacular. And to encourage those fantasy fans among you unfamiliar with Elizabeth Knox to go and read her two other also fabulous young adult books,  Dreamhunter and Dreamquakethe later a Printz honor book. What, you may wonder, are they like? I would agree with Knox's own answer (about her newest book, but applicable I think to these earlier ones too) in this r
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an unusual book. Demanding at its outset, then compulsively readable once I was into it. It's a love story, with a very endearing heroine, Canny, and an intriguing and slightly mad hero, Ghislain. But it isn't just a love story. It's mostly a book about Canny learning who she is, and what she is good at, and what use she can be to herself and other people. It's a book where people have occupations, they work and make things. The setting is very much part of that. The Zarene Valley is a k ...more
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Sometimes the stars dictating my fictional and factional reading align, forming the constellation Serendipity: a sublime fantasy novel like Mortal Fire alongside Ursula K. Le Guin's brilliant essays on genre, magic and criticism. Leave it to Le Guin to identify why Elizabeth Knox's YA fiction means so much to me, a woman in her early-to-mid-30s. "[I]n talking about fantasy," she points out, "one can't exclude children's literature." Please indulge my emphatic head-nodding:

The capacity of much fa
Gabriel Pasquale
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Mortal Fire is the first new novel from Elizabeth Knox in 4 years and well worth the wait as it is one of her best. Set in an alternative New Zealand in 1959, the novel follows 16 year old Canny as she travels with her step brother and his girlfriend to Zarene Valley.  It is here that Canny encounters the mysterious and often morally ambiguous Zarene family, their lush and alive valley, their magic (which Canny finds she is capable of using as if it were her own) and a house hidden by magic that ...more
Reading Teen
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I decided to pick up a book that I haven't heard too much about, called Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox. I read her Dreamhunter duology a few years ago (on the recommendation of Stephenie Meyer) and they were so strange, but also really good. They've stuck with me over the years and I've often found myself thinking about the world Elizabeth created. I felt the same way about Mortal Fire.

I have no way, really, to describe this book, or explain how I felt about it. It was slow and strange, but beaut
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Can this woman write like an angel or what! Not as broad a canvas here as in the Dreamhunter Duet, but completely satisfying down to its final sentences. Here's hoping we don't have to wait six more years for the next book. ...more
Originally published at yAdult Review.

You guys. I loved this. This was like a book that was written specifically for me. When I requested this one, I didn’t know it was set in the Dreamhunter universe, so there are a few things I didn’t understand (though I intend to read that series soon), but that didn’t take anything away from the book for me. The story is slow to unfold (at 17%, I have a note saying, “still no clue how magic works, but unfolding nicely”), but I liked Canny and I liked discov
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reread in July 2017 and I realized this might need a trigger warning (view spoiler)

Also, Cannie, the main character, is Pacific Islander and the brownness of her skin comes up a few times on the page, as does her feelings of belonging or lack-thereof specifically related to her heritage. I have literally no idea if this is authentic or good representation.

I thought I reviewed this yesterday but apparently not?

Nov 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
So tired. Stayed up all night reading. Why didn't anyone in my excellently well-read circle of Goodreads friends tell me about this awesome book?!? What a lucky accidental library find.

This compelling, contemporary-ish YA fantasy has all the whispering magic of Juliet Mariller's "Heart's Blood," refreshing New Zealand cultural elements of Karen Healey's "Guardian of the Dead," the spine-prickling subtlety of Margo Lanagan's "Sea Hearts", with the addition of an endearing, unique heroine whose ad
Mary Farrell
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-fantasy
Okay, for the last few months I've been wondering if I was being chintzy giving some really good books four stars. No. Just, NO.

Books like MORTAL FIRE are why you save those five stars. Because when a book comes along that's this good, you want to be able to tell everyone that it's better than the rest.

Elizabeth Knox grounds MORTAL FIRE so firmly in the real world that she makes you believe in magic again. The kind of magic you knew was real before the world broke your heart.

Thank you, Elizabet
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, ya
The author of DREAMHUNTER and DREAMQUAKE has created another mysterious fantasy set in New Zealand. Forget a need for logic and enter her realistic world which introduces unusual magic. The action builds until the reader is immersed in a magical hidden valley where the heroine strives to solve problems and discovers a first love.
Aug 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. I adored Knox's Dreamhunter and Dreamquake. This book can stand on it's own as a story, however I loved the references to the other books. So clever, beautifully written, evocative of Te Waipounamu's places and people - LOVED it!! ...more
**I read this book for a 2020/21 library challenge, so it is not necessarily be my taste and I may be harsh because it's not my personal preference. Or it could be a total surprise and I ended up really enjoying it.

Rating: 2 stars

If you can't be bothered reading this whole review, (and I don't blame you) I'll save you the trouble and just say all I do is complain about the YA-ness of this book (if you are immature like me, say "YA-ness" aloud, as in the letters not the words they stand for, and
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I paid a hefty reading tax (aka library fine) for the pleasure of reading Elizabeth Knox’s Mortal Fire in my own good time. And I’ll tell you – I don’t mind the fine, because the extra time allowed me to find a day when my mind was clear, my stress levels low, and my imagination ready for a fantastical mystery unlike any I’d read before. Mortal Fire is a brilliant book, and certainly one of the best I have read this year.

Canny Mochrie is one person, but she’s got more layers of identity than any
Dec 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Genre-wise, Mortal Fire isn't magical realism of the Jellicoe Road "You named yourself" sort. It doesn't have that kind of wonder. It doesn't fit the same not-quite-fantasy mold of Frances Hardinge, either - it doesn't have that playfulness. Nor does the novel belong in the non-historical fantasy niche of Attolia, because it is decidedly contemporary.

Instead, it's set in a slightly skewed, off-kilter but recognizable world, though one that's populated by ideas, not people. It's so deliberately c
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Mortal Fire is a delectable slow burn of a read. This is a book to sink into, slowly unwinding the secrets of Knox's alt-history Southland and its inhabitants through the setting's summery haze of unease.

Canny is a gem of a protagonist, and reminds me of Diana Wynne Jones' child protagonists - intelligent, inquisitive, and considerably more self-centred than more saccharine children's writers allow their characters to be.

Mortal Fire follows Knox's previous YA duet Dreamhunter and Dreamquake, but
Dec 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Well, Ms Knox, this is an astonishing, marvellous book. The intelligence and imagination that permeated the Dreamhunter and Dreamquake books is in this one too.

The overly detailed description in Knox's adult books is pared back here so that it informs without becoming dull. The characters are vibrant and interesting with all the nuances required in good characters (dark and light, small spirited and grand, and ordinary), the plot was clear but twisted about like a well made, silvery wind chime,
Kiwi Sarah
I found this book astonishing in its inventiveness. Dust still settling after reading it - one of the those books that you process after the fact. I love the central character of Canny - so original and unlike a number of teenage female characters around which stuff happens. Canny makes the stuff happen. So heartening to see this.
Karyn Silverman
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Dense and rich and brilliant. I want to go back and reread the Dreamhunter duet and then reread this one just to immerse myself more in the world.

Although it really really needed a map.
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
DNF at page 235.

I am just too bored to continue with this. Nothing happens, no one is interesting, and the writing style just did not work for me.
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Mandy Hager
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Vivid writing with lots of fascinating ideas
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, ya
An astute, well-judged novel, about a young woman who is a Pacific Islander living in a magical version of New Zealand. Canny is a math genius, strong-minded and courageous, and dislocated from the world. When she, her stepbrother, and his girlfriend, travel to the rural Zarene Valley, she discovers a new side of herself. She's always seen 'Extra', patterns of symbols and numbers that no one else can see. In the Valley, she begins to discover what these symbols mean, and how that relates to who ...more
Leah Fitzgerald
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, favourites, 2013
This book.... Just this book. It was amazing to visit Southland again, at mid-century, and the story was so beautiful. Loved the characters, loved the story, loved Knox's writing. Magic and history, rolled into one.
I saw an interview or a blog post from Knox and she mentioned that her research took her to Springhill's mining disaster and the accounts of the rescue. I had that in mind as I was reading, and it definitely had the story resonating a little closer for me (my mom is from the next town
Baz De
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The story is like the two rivers in the novel, lucent, deep and powerful, and full of deceptive twisty currents. It starts slowly, then goes on getting deeper and weightier.
The characters were a little hard to get a grasp on at first. Knox is all show don't tell. Then I just found myself laughing at them with affection (Sholto and Cyrus), or getting a kick out of their plans and schemes (Ghislain and Canny). But it is wrong to say 'and Canny' because she's the heart and main mover of the book.
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous. As weird or weirder than some of Elizabeth Knox's other book, and that's a very good thing. She makes you keep up as a reader. I don't always want to be held to this standard when I read, but when the language is this lovely and the characters this compelling it's the best. Knox can't go wrong for me. I hope for more books in the Dreamhunter world. ...more
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was intrigued from chapter one and have just loved immersing myself in the world Elizabeth Knox has created. Had no idea where it was going so was on a hurry to get there. Am sad to have finished it and expect I will read it many more times.
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
WOW. Just read the galley. WOW.
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
I'm going to write my review for this a bit later (when I shouldn't be working), but I loved it. I wish I could give it 6 stars. ...more
May 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth Knox's books are always top-notch. MORTAL FIRE is no exception. Gorgeous prose and devious plot twists. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry
  • Beyond the Black Door
  • Passenger (Passenger, #1)
  • A Dark and Hollow Star (A Dark and Hollow Star, #1)
  • Sweet & Bitter Magic
  • The Underground Moon
  • The City We Became (Great Cities, #1)
  • The Peasant's Choice
  • We Can Only Save Ourselves
  • City of the Plague God
  • Firefrost (Flameskin Chronicles)
  • Ridiculously Proud: Diary of a Diva
  • Ember Queen (Ash Princess Trilogy, #3)
  • Vera
  • The Betrayals
  • The Gamble Novellas: Books 1-2-3
  • Sing Me Forgotten
  • I Am Not Okay With This
See similar books…
Elizabeth Knox was born in Wellington‚ New Zealand‚ and is the author of eleven novels and three novella and a book of essays.

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
3 likes · 0 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“What no one else sees, no one else cares about.” 5 likes
“Don't take this the wrong way, but you seem like the strangest stranger I've ever met.” 3 likes
More quotes…