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4.62  ·  Rating details ·  55 ratings  ·  21 reviews
The truth might set them free, but at what cost?

In the summer of 1860, when slavery ruled the heart of America, two young abolitionists discover how dangerous it can be to believe in freedom for all.

Saoirse Callahan’s family is broken. Hunger forced them out of Ireland and they still struggle to survive in their new home, where scorching Texas droughts threaten their small
Published March 22nd 2016 by Dove Hollow Books
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4.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  55 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Jacqueline Smith
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Firebrand is an engaging and beautifully-written historical thriller written by debut author, Sarah MacTavish. Set in 1860, Firebrand follows the story of two families from two very different worlds, the slavery-ridden South and the free North. I've always looked back on the abolitionists as those who bravely stood up for what is right, but I never fully understood or appreciated the dangers, the true horror, of what it was to believe in something that the rest of the country so passionately opp ...more
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
MacTavish has done an amazing thing. YA book that doesn't feel YA. Historical fiction that rolls with the more comfortable fluidity of contemporary fiction. Characters so believable that I didn't even like the main female character for the first part of the book, her teen angst so real it was almost too hard to see past it. But, true to nature, she hits a time of such raw emotion I don't know if I could read it again, and she was slammed with so much pain and humility, my heart totally went out ...more
Joshua C.
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful first novel from an inspiring new author. I confess that historical fiction is not my usual genre, but this book drew me in and kept me engaged despite myself. The characters were endearing and felt like friends by the end. The entire thing is beautiful and thought-provoking, full of lines like this:

"We had the power to change things, and yet while we had pity for the oppressed, we held parties for their oppressors. Injustice festered around us, and we held our tongues. Kept our heads
United Indie Book Blog
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I honestly have no idea where to start with writing this review. This is a wonderful debut novel! I will say that I am not a big history genre reader but I absolutely love Firebrand. I was pulled in right from chapter one and made myself go slow so I could savor the story and the wonderful characters. There is a lot going on but under it all is one common thread that links all the characters. I'm not going to give away any plot in my review, please read the blurb for that. It's written in two PO ...more
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Firebrand, Sarah MacTavish’s debut novel, takes place in the volatile pre-Civil war years of 1860 - 1861 and lets us see this tumultuous time through the eyes of two young abolitionists – Saoirse, a headstrong and passionately impulsive Irish immigrant, and Wesley, a contemplative and studious idealist. The book alternates each chapter between Saoirse in Texas and Wesley in Pennsylvania. Their stories converge in the last fifth of the book and the chapters continue to alternate between Saoirse’s ...more
Monica Nolan
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sarah when I saw you at the book signing it was exciting to know you had finished the book you started and talked of for so long. I got the signed copy and promised myself to read it when I could. It's taken me four months to get to it but I'm so very glad I did. A great job at historical fiction. Wonderful characters leaving me wanting for more of the story. Can't wait for book two!!! Congratulations on a job well done.
Erin Kelley
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I adored this book.
I go to Sarah's teen writing club at the library, and this book deeply reflects her- filled with heart and sarcasm.
Very well written characters and a captivating plot.
Jessica Dowell
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction lovers, lovers of deep characters
Saoirse buried her older brother the day after they arrived in Texas. Her family has never been the same since. She blames herself for his death and so does her family. The only ones in her family who still speaks kindly to her is her cousin Jack and Abigail, the family's loyal slave. The two cousins want to free her, but that sentiment is a dangerous one to have for people in their town.

Westleigh lives in the relative comfort and safety of Dove Hollow, Pennsylvania. His anti-slavery views, tho
Karen Keith
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathleen Rodgers
Oct 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A Novel Rife With Tension On Every Page!

Sarah MacTavish's Firebrand is a page-turner. Her characters rise up off the page fully formed, and you will think of them for weeks after finishing this well-crafted story. The writing is tight, and from the opening sentence until the closing scene, she pulls the reader along at a breathless pace.

I highly recommend Firebrand for readers of all ages. It will appeal to both males and females.

I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Kathleen M. Rodgers, author of t
Cary Cox
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachel Abarca-Contreras
Adventure and History

Historical Fiction is my reading niche without a doubt, and this book did NOT disappoint. The characters felt real, like my own loved ones, instead of fiction. Like the author, I’m a Texan with Yankee roots, so I’ve struggled to understand the South in the events leading to the Civil War. The stories intertwined throughout this book gave me a good picture of what happened in my home state, and how real people probably felt. I was a little late to this party in reading Firebr
Lisa Betham
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am eagerly awaiting the sequel to this book. I love these characters so much. Do yourself a favor and read this book.
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Historical fiction strikes me yet again to the heart, and I can thank Sarah MacTavish for several emotional hours of reading.

Like many people, I have taken history classes in high school; I might not have paid much attention, but I always got the general idea of a historical concept, you know? When I hear the word “abolitionist”, I think of heroes, of revolutionaries, of courage and of change. But I forgot that with those, there come villains, resistance, danger and a cause to change. And that’s
Tonja Drecker
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Historical fiction is a genre I don't hit often, but since I've been taking an interest in this time period lately, I thought I'd give this one a try. I'm more than glad I did.

Sarah MacTavish does a marvelous job of bringing the past to life. This is told from two different points of view, one from a character living in the North, and one from the South. Each has a very different perspective on the world around them, which grants the entire plot a broadness not usually found in stories set durin
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sarah MacTavish has written a first novel that is full of intrigue, adventure, excitement and romance in Firebrand. The author takes you into the past to a part of history of the Civil war that we do not study in school. Told through well-defined characters who are on both sides of the slavery question, Ms. Mactavish spins a tale that will enthrall you. Be sure to set aside enough time to finish the book in one or two “sittings”. And waiting for the next book will be exasperating, since you want ...more
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was a great read! I ended up reading the whole thing over the course of a lazy afternoon because I couldn't put it down. What really impressed me about this book was the sharp dialogue - what usually turns me off of most historical fiction books is cheesy, overdone dialogue that doesn't advance the plot or add anything to the character, but that certainly cannot be said of Firebrand. This book has a wealth of characters, including a fiesty young female protagonist you will grow to love, and ...more
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
I never thought the word "abolitionist" was a dangerous term. I had always pictured abolitionists as the brave men and women who rallied for freedom, of course, but I never thought of the consequences. In the South that term was especially dangerous as those who stood for freedom also stood against the will of the slave owners. Reading "Firebrand" pulls you into so many different perspectives, allowing you to see just a glimpse of what it truly took to stand for freedom in a world where slavery ...more
Tamara Morning
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Way back in…March, I think…I went to a local author event, mainly because Rachel Caine was going to be there, and I love her writing. I’d heard her speak before, and was pleased to have another opportunity. There was another author there, Sarah MacTavish, and I really enjoyed her talk as well. So, I ended up buying her debut novel, Firebrand. And it’s been sitting in that particular TBR pile until last week. Yes, I stockpile books…and then don’t have a chance to read them for months. I have a pr ...more
Phillip Murrell
Just barely

Sometimes a story just doesn't resonate. Firebrand is written well enough, but I couldn't get into it. It reminded me of a South Park episode when they discuss how freemium video games work. Many times I considered adding it to my small list of DNF titles, but it was just "barely fun" enough to keep me slogging along. The characters were great, but the end was too convenient; at least the part we get before a giant "To Be Continued" is written. It wasn't entertaining enough to get me
Raychel Faulkner
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Review coming soon
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Mackenzee Bumgarner
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Hayley Shearer
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Sarah MacTavish is a librarian-author who writes historical fiction for teens. She's also a gamer, cat lady, and Hufflepuff. When Sarah isn’t writing, she’s either gaming, working on the family tree, or reading Star Wars novels.

Connect with her online and get the latest updates on her books at

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