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A Thousand Fires

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Shannon Price's A Thousand Fires is a breakout contemporary debut―think The Outsiders meets The Iliad―that's perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Veronica Roth.

10 Years. 3 Gangs. 1 Girl’s Epic Quest…

Valerie Simons knows the city's gang wars are dangerous—her own brother was killed by the Boars two years ago. But nothing will sway her from joining the elite and beautiful Herons to avenge his death—a death she feels responsible for.

But when Valerie is recruited by the mysterious Stags, their charismatic and volatile leader Jax promises to help her get revenge. Torn between old love and new loyalty, Valerie fights to stay alive as she races across the streets of San Francisco to finish the mission that got her into the gangs.


"Modern, unflinching and filled with haunting, lingering imagery, A Thousand Fires gives the story of the Iliad the bare-knuckled update it deserves." --Colleen Oakes, author of The Black Coats

"A Thousand Fires pulls you in close and shows you the essence of what it means to keep fighting. Shannon Price is one to watch." --Gwenda Bond, New York Times bestselling author of Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds

"Brutal and beautiful, A THOUSAND FIRES broke my heart. A fast-paced tragedy of love, betrayal, and vengeance." --Heidi Heilig, author of FOR A MUSE OF FIRE

"Fast-paced... Vivid descriptions and intricate details bring San Francisco to life ... A promising debut." --Kirkus

304 pages, Hardcover

First published November 5, 2019

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About the author

Shannon Price

2 books175 followers
SHANNON PRICE believes in good bread, good wine, and good books. She lives in California where she dreams of one day living in a house by the sea.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 177 reviews
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,480 reviews79k followers
October 17, 2019
I'm somewhere between 3-3.5 stars on this one.

The idea of making a blended retelling of The Illiad and The Outsiders is creative, ambitious, and intriguing, and while I respect what the author created here, I think my preconceived notions gave me different expectations of what this would be. I had a difficult time connecting with the characters, and the narrative felt a bit uneven and jarring, but I couldn't put this down! I'm a sucker for anything that involves gangs, and the author shows tremendous promise in her writing capabilities here. While I wasn't completely sold on A Thousand Fires, I do think there is a reader base who will adore the story Price has created, and I'm all about checking out her next book and seeing the growth she makes between now and then.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for Alana.
684 reviews1,310 followers
November 4, 2019
"My thoughts bleed with the reminder that I'm dancing with demons, flirting with the monsters."

WOW! I totally devoured this book. A Thousand Fires totally blew my expectations out of the water and I'm so happy I received a copy of this book otherwise I may have not even known it was releasing. Why is there not more hype around this?! This book is pitched as The Outsiders meets The Iliad so do with that knowledge what you will, but I was more invested in this because it reminded me of something that I love dearly and that's the TV show Sons of Anarchy. I swear it's not because both gang leaders are named Jax, and this is definitely the muuuuuch tamer version of the show (watch at your own risk 🙃) but this book was still so good.

Valerie, has spent everyday since her little brother was killed by a gang called the Boars plotting her revenge. The day she turns eighteen she's hoping to get selected by the Boars rival gang, the Herons, and will one day avenge her brothers death. Val and her ex-boyfriend, Matthew, quickly rekindle their romance in the beginning of this book which definitely adds a lot of complexity to the story later on that I was LIVING for. But when Val doesn't get recruited by the Herons (Matthew does) and instead is recruited to a third gang called the Stags with a leader who promises to help her avenge her bothers death, Val knows she has no choice to but leave everyone and everything behind. And thus, begins our story of love, lies, grief, deception, found families, new and old love, testing loyalties, and the truth surrounding her brother's death.

Val's story isn't a pretty one as she tries to navigate her new life within a gang. She often finds herself questioning the gangs intentions, where her loyalty lies, and maybe even fighting some attraction to her new leader Jax, all the way fighting her love for her ex-boyfriend, Matthew.  Not going to lie I definitely got some Romeo and Juliet vibes from this one too. Another reason I loved this one was because of the side characters that Val meets throughout her time as a Stag. Dare I say I loved this gang? Because I really did. I also enjoyed that Jax was trying to do good throughout this story even though he was definitely in over his head. He didn't always make the best decisions on how to deal with the Wars between the gangs, but his intention was to always make the outcome better for the greater good, much like Jax Teller, if I may add.

The one reason I didn't give this one  4.5/5 stars is because I wish the ending wasn't as rushed. The big climactic scene between all three gangs was SO GOOD and I didn't want it to end. There was definitely a lot of buildup over the first 280 pages to the final scene and the 20-ish pages just wasn't enough in my opinion. Although, I will add in that I did enjoy the way the story ended with a sense of open-endedness. Some people hate endings like that but personally when we're dealing with books centered on heavy topics I think it works so much better for a story. All in all, this was a fantastic debut from Shannon Price and I will definitely be picking up more of her books in the future!

tw: death of a child, self-harm, anxiety, violence, murder, grief, underage drinking, depression, gun violence

Thank you Tor Teen for providing me with a finished copy in exchange for a honest review!

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Profile Image for Phoenix2.
859 reviews100 followers
December 9, 2019
I was excited to read this book. As a High&Low fan, I was intrigued to read about gang wars and a girl who has to navigate her way into them. However, the book didn't live up to its hype.

There were early signs that this book won't be what I was hoping it'll be. First of all, it was unclear whether this was a contemporary YA urban story or a fantasy dystopian story. The reason why the gangs came and took teenagers was unclear and it lost its illusion of momentum when it was clear that the gangs just asked you to join and if one just didn't want to, they could simply refuse and go on with their lives. Also, the gangs were never really and in depth analysed. Which was a shame, because it seemed to be a good story to tell. The big war story was a let down too. They didn't really start a long time ago, so there wasn't a big, deep hatred or tradition about them. Plus, they only seem to be doing social media campaigns, vandalizing
Profile Image for CW ✨.
669 reviews1,711 followers
November 28, 2019
Read my full review on my book blog, The Quiet Pond.


Reading this book made me feel something that I don't often feel when I read a book: bewilderment.
This book was a wild ride from start to finish, and not in a good way unfortunately.

- Follows Valerie, a biracial Phillipino-American teen who joins San Franciso's gang wars so she can avenge her little brother.
- To start with the good stuff... I can see where Price was coming from with the themes of gentrification and violence, though I feel like the themes were a bit of a mess and were confounded by, well everything else.
- I had a lot of issues with a lot of things in this book, all of which I will address in a full review but to sum, I had problems with: the love interest, the "romance" (UGH), the character development, the emotional payoffs and climax of the story, the consequences of the climax of the story.

Trigger/content warning:
Profile Image for Kal ★ Reader Voracious.
560 reviews192 followers
November 16, 2019
I read this in one sitting! I definitely picked up more Romeo and Juliet vibes from this than expected, but the themes of the Iliad are evident throughout - the underlying story being an important one of privilege and gentrification set in San Francisco.
"You turn eighteen, and they find you. There is no other recruitment. Eighteen - old enough to have had your heart hardened, young enough that blood still passes through it. Not everyone is recruited, of course, but the gangs are smart. They pick people with nothing to lose. The ones who are angry. Those who join San Francisco's infamous Red Bridge Wars do so willingly."
The ultimate war between the haves and the have-nots has waged on the streets of San Fransico for ten years. Three gangs run by teenagers are the players: Herons, Boars, and the mysterious Stags. The Herons are the tech companies and their families; their power and wealth drastically changing the city and displacing the poor. The Boars fight back, largely with violence. And the Stags? Well, some people say they don't even exist.

The book begins on the night of Valerie's eighteenth birthday. Her younger brother was killed in crossfire by one of the gangs two years earlier, and she is determined to join the Wars to find out who is responsible to exact her revenge. But instead of being recruited by the Herons like she always thought (and thus being separated from her ex-boyfriend), she joins the Stags.

I really fell for Valerie and the rest of the Stags, especially Micah and Jax. Valerie is biracial (half Filipino and there is Tagalog in the book) and comes from a comfortable middle-class upbringing, which compared to her ex-boyfriend's family never felt like much. I appreciate that she doesn't deny her privilege when confronted by her fellow Stags, who for the most part grew up poor. I wish there was stronger LGBTQIAP+ representation. One of the stags, Nianna, tells Valerie that she is "queer and damn proud of it," but other than that line there isn't a mention of what her identity explicitly or implicitly is.

Losing her brother really affected Valerie; her grief and guilt run through the book. Major content warning for self-harm. She bakes in order to quiet the anxiety and occupy her thoughts, but she is also a cutter and there is on-page cutting in the book. As someone who has struggled with this for most of her life, I am not sure how I feel about the self-harm representation. I was able to comprehend the motivation because I have experienced it, but I don't know the motivations were really explored in text. I wish that the way Valerie talks about baking is how she would discuss the cutting. It just felt very surface level to me, and with something as serious as mental health and self-harm, I wish the representation were better than just... being there.
"Live fast, fight for what we want, then die and be remembered for all we accomplished."
Despite this being a heavy book of loss, grief, and vengeance, it is also filled with hope. Of the little things we can do to make a difference: frequenting mom-and-pop shops when we can, questioning the status quo and, researching things for yourself instead of believing what you are told. It's a love letter to civil disobedience and paints a picture of potential ways bad actors can ruin the message.
"I figure, if anything, the city's myriad ailments help the Wars. It's like a cancer - there's no easy fix, and while the state and local government tangles itself in red tape, the Wars go on as a newer symptom masked by others."
The book feels very punk rock to me, and nails the teenage optimism and fire to change the world for the better. They haven't been hardened by the reality of the world and complacent to let it simply continue as it always has. I haven't read The Outsiders, but this does remind me of my punk youth... and the Stags' methods for addressing the growing social inequality in their city reminds me a bit of SLC Punk. *choked sobbing*

The writing is gripping and engaging, once I started the book I was hooked until the end. It's a fast-paced read and a solid debut. As a note, I think the publisher got the genre classification wrong. The book is listed as a Thriller in their catalog, but it's really more of a contemporary story with elements of a dystopia setting. There is the mystery of who murdered Valerie's brother at the center of the story, but don't go in expecting an edge-of-your-seat thriller.
"Society says we're bad, but we're doing what the police can't and the other gangs won't [...] We're smarter than they are, and doing the right thing.'"
At the heart, this is a touching story of love, sacrifice, and revenge in a city at war between the haves and the have nots. San Francisco is a city where gentrification is evident on every street corner thanks to the growth of Silicon Valley, so it is the perfect setting for this story. Price did a fantastic job transporting the reader to the streets of the City, and she is definitely an author to watch. I look forward to reading her next book!

Content warnings: anxiety, child death, depression, grief, gun violence, mention of suicide, self-harm (on-page), underage drinking and drug use

eARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review. Quotations are from an uncorrected proof and subject to change upon final publication.
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Profile Image for charlotte,.
3,220 reviews868 followers
November 6, 2019
On my blog.

Rep: Filipino American mc with PTSD, non-white side characters, lesbian side character, side character with depression

CWs: self harm (graphic), ptsd, gun violence, gang violence, suicidal ideation and attempted suicide (side character), alcohol abuse, drug abuse, abusive relationship (not condemned, maybe even romanticised)

Galley provided by publisher

A few months back, I read Beth O’Leary’s The Flatmate and, in that, there’s an emotionally abusive ex boyfriend. Throughout a good chunk of the second half of the book, I had this constant sense of unease that he was about to do something awful to the MC (which he subsequently did). That sense of unease is very much the same feeling I had reading this book, although I’m not entirely sure it was intentional in this case.

To give you a summary of the plot: for some (to be later explained) reason, there are gang wars in the city. Also for some reason (not explained), the gangs go around picking up new recruits who have to commit to the gang for at least a year (like some kind of messed-up national service). Val’s brother was killed by the gang wars a few years back and she’s determined to find out who did it, even if it means joining the gangs herself. Only, instead of joining the Herons as she expected, she gets picked up by the Stags. And their (as the blurb states) “charismatic and volatile” leader (who just so happens to be the hottest guy Val has ever seen and you can probably hear me rolling my eyes at this point).

I won’t pretend like I was enjoying this book at the start. It opened with a number of things that made me roll my eyes (again). Like the fact that you know there’s going to be a love triangle from the moment Val meets Jax, that her ex is in a rival gang so it’s going to be all cliched Romeo & Juliet, the fact that I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be a dystopia or a contemporary or what. And also the fact that, from the start, Jax treated Val like shit and I thought oh here we go again, another dickhead LI who’s going to be excused with a tragic backstory.

Only, Jax is more than just a dickhead LI. You know there’s your common or garden dickhead LI, who is basically just rude to the MC, but ultimately not much more. But then there’s the actually abusive dickhead LI, and Jax fell squarely into that category.

I think I first started to feel uncomfortable about Jax when he pushed Val into a wall and threatened her, all because she didn’t follow an order. And that’s within the first quarter of the book, easily.

But it didn’t end there.

When the Stags take Val, they ostensibly save her from an attack by the Boars, who point a gun to her head, threatening to kill her. However (and there are spoilers here), it’s later revealed that they weren’t the Boars, but the Stags. And that the attack was all staged by Jax. To which, Val has a very reasonable response.

“You’re insane,” I say. A flood of worry hits me and I tack on a “sorry”.

That she feels the need to apologise to him for this, for having an actually pretty understated response to being attacked by him, because she worries he might snap. The red flags are coming out, folks.

But that’s not all because, a few chapters later, there’s this:

I think Jax may actually kill me if he finds out I’ve left again.

This isn’t a reasonable reaction to someone disobeying orders unless you’re some kind of dictator. Especially not in a “gang war”, which is starting to look more and more like just kids running around the streets because they’re bored.

But, you guessed it, there’s still more! Firstly, now whenever Val disobeys an order from Jax and he finds out, she goes to him, expecting to be punished and babbling excuse and then is grateful when she’s not punished. Because Jax has a pattern in this book. Punishment followed by piecemeal affection. He lashes out by breaking things, he hits someone who even thinks about leaving the gang, they worry about ruining his good moods, always apologise first even when he’s in the wrong, and yet, because he’s nice to Val once in a blue moon, he’s not a villain.

Tell me how I’m supposed to view this as anything but textbook abusive behaviour.

The thing is, part of me wants to believe that this was actually all intentional, that Jax was always meant to be read as abusive. But there’s no condemnation of his behaviour. Yeah, so it’s not romanticised really, but it’s also not condemned in the narrative. So even if the intention was there, it hasn’t translated onto the page that well (I mean, death of the author and all that). (There are more quotes in the twitter thread I made.)

So, the prevailing reason for how much I disliked this book was Jax. Take Jax out, and maybe I would have liked it more. But there were also the issues I had with the worldbuilding and plot more generally. Firstly, it never feels like there are any stakes to this world. Someone gets shot, and I still didn’t feel like there were stakes. I think part of that was because of the backstory for how the gang wars started. This book is comped to The Iliad and The Outsiders but it feels a whole lot more like Romeo & Juliet from the other characters’ POV. And that could have been good! But combine that with the various reasons why people are fighting, particularly Jax’s (can I say bored rich kid?), and it just doesn’t have any impetus to it. (And don’t get me started on how all the Stags seem to do is use social media to start protests. Another thing that could have been good but ended up flopping.)

Secondly, the book’s ostensibly about Val’s quest to avenge her brother’s death, but from the point where Jax tells her he knows who did it, but he’s not gonna say until she’s earned his trust (yet more evidence of him being abusive, no?), she just seems to accept that and never bothers trying to find out herself. Which leads me to question what this book is actually about. It’s almost like it’s trying to be too many things at once and not doing any of them in enough depth.

Ultimately, then, this book ended up disappointing me. Despite how good it sounded, it never lived up to all that.
Profile Image for Shannon Price.
Author 2 books175 followers
April 18, 2021
4/18/21 update from author: It was pointed out to me that the CWs aren't as visible as they could be, something I'm happy to correct: please visit spricewrites.com/a-thousand-fires/ and scroll to the bottom for a full list of CWs and share with others as needed. There are quite a few triggering topics in the book (it's inspired by a violent epic poem, after all), and I want readers to feel safe and supported going into the story. Thanks!

Edit: A THOUSAND FIRES is out now!! Thank you all for your support, I hope you enjoy my modern take on the Iliad and that you love the Stags as much as I do. :) Please don't forget that CWs are on my website at spricewrites.com/books. And watch out for my next book—YA fantasy this time!—coming out November 2020!

Thank you everyone for your excitement for A THOUSAND FIRES; it's now available for preorder on Amazon! Indiebound, B&N, and other links coming soon. :)

Edit: Pre-order links are LIVE!! Also, I'm starting to see some longer reviews, which means my book is starting to head out into the world. Let me know your thoughts on Twitter, IG, and here and thank you all for reading, sharing, everything. I am so honored to share this story with you all.

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/2TzHwam
BN: http://bit.ly/2Ne8zp6
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2AW33Tl
Profile Image for Claire.
798 reviews91 followers
January 24, 2020
I'm sad to say that I'm a bit disappointed with this one.

I had high expectations and they have not been met. The premise seemed too ambitious and the execution is lacking. Characters needed more development and fortunately enough the main character is not one of them. I would say that the best thing about the book had been the development of the main character. Besides that, I think this YA novel needs a bit more work.

However, I would say that this book is extremely fast-paced. The reader gets thrown into the action during the first few chapters. I think it would have been better if the world-building had been set up earlier in the book.

Lastly, as a Filipina myself, I love the representation in this book. While the reviews can be a bit divided, I believe the author had set up a solid fan base. I know she has the potential to write another best-seller. But this one, unfortunately, is a miss for me. I still thought it was an 'okay' read for a first book though.

Trigger warnings: some characters can seem creepy (i.e. too close or too touchy), violence, self-harm, depression, murder, etc.

Huge thanks to the publisher for providing access to this arc in exchange for an honest review.

I'm here for the retelling and the FILIPINA character.
Profile Image for Amanda .
432 reviews156 followers
November 14, 2019

You can also read my review here:https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress....

Review: 4 Stars

A Thousand Fires was an absolutely incredible read that I found myself tearing right through. Books that are about criminals are my catnip, so I’m not surprised that I loved this book about gang wars in San Francisco. A Thousand Fires is marketed as a re-telling of The Illiad and while I never read The Illiad I know about it and I know a lot about Greek and Roman mythology. I had expected this book to have some fantasy elements because of the comparison, but there weren’t any. Typically I would be really bummed about the fact that a book I thought would have fantasy elements didn’t turn out to be a fantasy at all, but this book was amazing just the way it was and if I knew it wasn’t a fantasy ahead of time I might not have given it a chance.

By the end of the first chapter I was so intrigued and I knew that I was already hooked by Shannon Price. The plot of A Thousand Fires is about 3 gangs fighting against each other, but the story didn’t just focus on the criminal elements of gang life, but also the politics and corruption of the city. The ways that the gangs contolled the city of San Francisco reminded me of how the mob used to be a controlling force in NYC. The corruption of the city and the politics of rival gangs make this book a fascinating read. This isn’t just a book about gang violence and trivial vendettas, this is also a book about scheming and plotting to help turn a city around.

The plot had me intrigued, but it was the characters that got me so invested in this story. Valerie found a family within the stags and the close relationships between the gang members felt so realistic. Found families are something I love to read about and I think that this one was done really well because I really cared about each character. Valerie was a great main character because she was so relatable and it was easy to sympathize with her. The death of her brother was her reason for getting involved with the Wars and her pain and grief were both conveyed so well that I felt like I really understood her. I think the teenage portrayal of the characters were done very well. I felt like I could see myself during my own teenage years in each of the characters throughout the story. All of the characters felt so real and were written so well.

While the characters truly made the story what it is I don’t feel that I can say that this novel was character driven, or even plot driven. Shannon Price did a fabulous job of balancing an intriguing plot with characters that felt like real people. I’m so glad that I stumbled upon this book because it was so worth the read. I think this was a great debut YA novel and I can’t wait to see what Shannon Price writes next.
Profile Image for Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard.
1,146 reviews245 followers
December 9, 2019
Plot: yassssssssss
Cover: ...ehhhhhh...

Actual review:
This book should have been left with the title The Red Bridge Wars. It made sense. It was tied into the book and setting. The cover looks cheap and flat. They should've incorporated a stag with a tattoo or something.

I liked the end of this but the whole thing was destroyed by the awful and unnecessary romances. Everything was rushed through and I wasn't given enough time to get attached to anyone.
Profile Image for Jessica.
280 reviews51 followers
July 28, 2019
This was mind-blowingly good. I read it in one sitting and now I have the worst book hangover I’ve had in ages.
Profile Image for Marta Cox.
2,624 reviews194 followers
October 23, 2019
Ok I read the preview provided on Netgalley so was quite intrigued to see where this story would go. Essentially we have Valerie who dearly wants more than anything to find out which gang member killed her brother. Her chance to finally find out is crushed when instead of being offered a position with the Herons she suddenly finds herself taken by the Stags ! Not what Valerie wanted but their unpredictable leader offers to help her so Valerie leaves behind her safe world and enters one full of secrets, deceit and danger.
I really wanted to like this as I thought the idea of Gangs reminded me of West Side Story and obviously Romeo and Juliet. I will say because Valerie is in love with Matthew the idea of star crossed lovers did crop up but sadly it didn't actually go in the direction I'd hoped for. Valerie and Jax just never made sense to this reader as he wasn't developed enough. Plus the three gangs and the power they had really wasn't that believable. This is a standalone book so expect Valerie to get revenge but the cost is hard leaving this reader feeling empty.
This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair
October 5, 2019
I almost skipped over the book because of the cover, but luckily I decided to read the synopsis.  Do not skip over this.  After reading it, I get the cover more.  Still not my favorite, but it does fit.

I'm going to start this with some warnings.  I apologize if I missed anything.  There is cutting, a child's death, murder, gang wars, depression, talk of suicide, teens drinking, teens smoking pot, sex (but no details), control, revenge, rage (breaking things, etc).  It's a thriller that is a bit dark.  

This book takes place in San Francisco and I loved all the different places mentioned.  During this time, there is a gang war going on.  But not gangs in the way we think of them.  These gangs recruit people on their eighteenth birthday and they only have to stay in for one year.  They have to be loyal and never go against the leader.  These wars were started ten years earlier when there were just two.  The Herons and The Boars.  A guy, Jax, started The Stags later after the gangs started getting violent.  The Stags mostly try to keep the rich Heron's from buying up all the property and pushing out the people who aren't rich.  None of the gangs get along, but they do have rules to follow.  Not that it always happens.  There are revenge killings and betrayals.  

Valerie (Valentine) grew up next to Matthew's family.  The families on her street are extremely wealthy, except hers.  She still has money, but she's not a rich kid.  Valerie and Matthew become friends and later, boyfriend and girlfriend.  Their relationship ended abruptly and Valerie isn't over it.  Valerie's younger brother was killed by a Boar when he was just a little kid.  Valerie blames herself, but her main goal is to get revenge.  Valerie and Matthew share the same birthday, so they are expecting to be recruited.  All of Matthew's family has been recruited by the Herons, so Matthew was a definite.  Valerie wanted them to recruit her, too.  She thought they were the best, but she also thought that a year with Matthew would be perfect for them.  The night of their birthdays, he actually tells her that he loves her.

"Our stories are intertwined, I remind myself.  Is that still true, now what we're on opposing sides?"

Valerie was not recruited by the Herons, but instead by the Stags.  She joined with the knowledge that she could still get revenge, but hated being a rival to Matthew.  Jax knows who killed Leo, so Valerie just needs to listen, prove her loyalty, and wait.  Jax starts calling her Valentine.  Jax's mom, Theresa, is a Heron.  But she is the one who funds the Stags because she loves her son and it's what he wants.  She can also give them some intel and a heads up from time to time.  Valerie starts to really love her members.  They're a small group, but all very loyal to each other.  She also realizes that she has some strange feelings for Jax, but still loves Matthew.  

The Stags decide to team up with the Boars to take out the Herons.  They agree that the Herons need to be stopped.  They're destroying the city and blame anything bad on the Boars and Stages.  Even though the Boars are the most violent group, and one killed Leo, it's something that must happen.  The Herons have old money/families supporting the new Young Herons.  The Stags are too small to do anything alone.  Jax and Ty, the Boar's leader, make an agreement that they work together and don't kill each other.

"The gang I'm sworn to has teamed up with the one I hate to take down the group that the guy I'm in love with belongs to."  

I found that Valerie's thoughts of revenge could sometimes be too much, but overall, the story is fast paced and really good.  I ended up loving the Stags.  I was able to guess some things, but the book definitely has you wondering who you could trust.  There were so many lies, backstabbing, and assaults/murders.  A person I adored died and I had tears.  The Herons basically own the police, so that was another interesting part to the story.  While the story was about revenge and the gangs, I still found myself more invested in the people.  

I gave this book 4 stars.  Thank you to Tor Teen and Edelweiss for my review copy.  Quotes were taken from an arc and may change before publication. 
Profile Image for Liz (Quirky Cat).
4,331 reviews69 followers
October 21, 2019
I received a copy of A Thousand Fires through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

A Thousand Fires is the debut novel of Shannon Price, and is a novel worth checking out. It's a modern-day retelling of The Iliad, with a touch of The Outsiders thrown into the mix. Naturally, that has a lot of readers more than a little bit curious about this one.
In a world where three gangs rule the land, everything is both familiar and dangerous. On your eighteenth birthday, you stand a chance of picking recruited by one of three gangs. If recruited, you're expected to put in a year with them. You cannot leave. You cannot run.
The Herons are the most organized gang of the three. They've got their hands on corporations and politicians. As such, they tend to rule the roost. The Boars are wild and loud, and will do what it takes the stop the Herons from getting bigger. And then there are the Stags. They're the smallest, and some people even believe that they don't exist. Their goals are much more obfuscated than the other two.
Ten years ago Valerie Simons lost her little brother to a gang war. A Boar gang member killed him, even though he was just a kid. Ever since then, Valerie has been working towards getting herself recruited by the Herons so she could get her revenge.
Only, she wasn't recruited by the Herons. Instead, the Stags came to her. And they offered her the chance at revenge that she so desperately wanted. All she has to do is earn their trust before they'll give her a name. Just one name, and she'll get the man who murdered her brother.

“Eighteen – old enough to have had your heart hardened, young enough that blood still passes through it.”

Warnings: This is probably fairly obvious, but this novel contains more than one example of gang violence within its pages. It's never gratuitous, for what it is worth.

A Thousand Fires was a magnificent and emotionally compelling novel. It's a prime example of a character driven plot, with Valerie's pain and determination driving her and the plot forward. It was impossible not to feel the pain and anger she was suffering from, while also hoping that she would find a better path in life.
As a fan of both The Iliad and The Outsiders, I knew that I had to give this novel a chance. Now that I've read it, I can honestly say that it lived up to all of my expectations. You can see the influences here, naturally. But it also felt very much like its own beast as well. The end result was something both unique and amazing.
Valerie's character was dynamic and vibrant. Her pain felt real – like it was emanating from the pages. Watching her get into something over her head made for an interesting read, even if there were times where I felt like screaming at her (have you ever watched a movie and wanted to warn the characters about what was about to happen? It's like that).
The secondary characters were equally interesting. The romantic subplot(s) added a lot to Valerie's story...and her confusion. It was a perfect touch. And of course, it helped to add emotional tension to what was happening.
Part of me is actually a little bit sad that A Thousand Fires is a standalone novel. I would have happily read a second novel in this series. And even a third. I guess that just means I'll have to check out whatever Shannon Price comes out with next.
Profile Image for A Book Shrew.
635 reviews145 followers
May 18, 2021
A Thousand Fires hooked me so fiercely with the first chapter. Then it lost me in chapter two with a line something like, "He was the hottest guy I'd ever seen." Le sigh. I hate writing reviews like this, so I'll endeavour to keep it short.

Full review at A Book Shrew

First, a quick note about trigger warnings. There is self-harm, depression and potential suicidal moments. I have yet to see anything anywhere about these being in this book. I am not an individual who would be affected by these, but I was shocked when all of the sudden the main character starts cutting. It was out of the blue and frankly not necessary, so please be advised if you are interested in reading this book.

For a book that revolved around gangs recruiting people the second they turn eighteen, gangs they can't get out of for an entire year, I expected a heck of a lot more ... you know, edginess. Instead this was pretty weak, and I don't know why anyone would call these three groups gangs in the first place. The Boars are just there to f**k sh*t up by not really doing anything. The Herons are the children of wealthy Silicon Valley people. And I guess the Stags are there to stop gentrification? What did I tell you? Weak gangs. There is next to no violence or actual gang work that would have interested me. Instead there is tagging buildings—in water-based spray paint so it comes off no less—plastering streets in flyers, and arranging protests against, you guessed it, gentrification. That'll stick it to those Herons. When it finally started getting twisty and surprising, it was too late for me to even be bothered to care.

Man, did I ever feel prissy and wholesome while reading this. Apparently the edginess and grit of the book comes from the incessant underage drinking and smoking pot. For a while it felt more like a frat house with five people than a gang. Oh, wait. They're almost all 18 years old and have nothing to do but bum around in a house the leader's mama bought for them and feel like they're dangerous and untouchable. Not my kind of people.

I have a potentially random bone to pick with YA novels, namely when it comes to high school. Unless you were held back a year, there is absolutely no reason why you should be turning 18 years old in November/December and still be in high school. Like why would you do this? Twilight did the same thing and it still bothers me to this day. Valerie turns eighteen sometime just before Christmas and is still in high school when no, that would not be the case. It must be an American thing.

Overall this felt really cliche, tropey and all around trying too hard to make things seem more than they are. Sadly, I don't think I'll be looking to read more from Shannon Price.
Profile Image for Trisha.
4,742 reviews167 followers
December 25, 2019
"that's all a person needs - someplace to spark the tinder of change and an audience to watch the flames."

I liked the idea of this - the gangs and the lands and worlds these kids live. Grabbed at 18 by a gang, you choose to join for 12 months and fight - or decline and go about your world. But things broke down pretty quickly from there. I'm not sure the benefit of joining the gang - why one gang full of "haves" still choose to lose some of their kids instead of sending them away to their expensive colleges.

I also found the plot a bit predictable. I was hoping the ending would turn out a little different and give a twist I thought possible but it didn't do that either. Although I did find the story an adventure and it was easy to read, I didn't find the characters engaging or the story well flushed out or brought together.
Profile Image for Mari Johnston.
452 reviews58 followers
November 15, 2019
This review and many others can also be found at Musings of a (Book) Girl.

Content Warnings: self-harm, PTSD, anxiety, nervous tics, suicide ideation, suicide attempt, gun violence, gang violence, grief, depression, descriptions of blood and wounds, death of a sibling, underage drinking, drug use, unhealthy eating habits

I’ve read some pretty incredible debuts this year and A Thousand Fires did not continue that good luck. Shannon Price has potential but she isn’t quite there yet.

We’re thrown pretty quickly into the main story and not given much background information to go off of. There is no introduction to the main character or setting before things kick-off and that made it hard for me to care about what was going on. Things were just suddenly happening.

When it comes to the characters it felt like Price barely scratched the surface. She tells us just enough to get by but never fully fleshes anybody out. There was such an air of detachment surrounding everything and I had a hard time keeping up with who was who. Other than Valerie and Jax I couldn’t keep any of the others straight.

The romance between Valerie and Jax also bothered me a great deal. Jax is a complete asshole and to me was creepy af. Towards the beginning, he just randomly grabbed Valerie and kept going after her even though it was clear she was uncomfortable and trying to get away. Then, Valerie goes into her room to find him with a pair of her underwear. The whole thing felt almost predatory. But she of course fell in love with him anyway because isn’t that what girls are supposed to want?

Overall, the entire story felt too repetitive. Nothing would happen for quite a few pages as the Stags just hung around their house drinking and playing video games then suddenly a huge conflict would appear without any build-up. Once it was quickly over the cycle would start again. The lack of build-up to anything and the fact that it happened so often made it impossible to care about any of the tension.

A Thousand Fires was a fairly quick read and that’s the only thing I enjoyed about it. If it’s one that sounds interesting to you then go ahead and give it a shot – just don’t hold your breath in hopes that you’ve found your next favorite read.

A digital ARC was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for TheGeekishBrunette.
1,238 reviews30 followers
October 31, 2019
This was a book I was really looking forward to reading. I was so excited to start it and the first few pages really draw you in. I felt like this was going to be a great read. Unfortunately, I ended up having some issues with it.

Let’s start with the characters. There were some I liked more than others which is usually how it goes. Valerie, the main character, is half Filipino, comes from a decent neighborhood, and is dealing with the loss of her younger brother. She blames herself for it and wants revenge. She does have good development throughout the plot but there was just one thing that annoyed me about her. Every time she is around Jax, the leader of the Stags, she becomes enthralled with his looks or smell. When she was first introduced to him, she talked about how hot he was for a couple sentences. It just felt repetitive.

Since I have already mentioned Jax, let’s talk about him. He was an okay character who was a little flat at times. He also wants revenge and will do anything to get it. He is probably one of my least favorite characters overall.

As for the other characters, I really liked the ones that Valerie finds herself surrounded by when it comes to being in the Stags. A few come from harsh backgrounds and they just want the world to be better for those that have a hard time getting by and are trying to be pushed out by the richer ones aka the Herons. A few fell flat here and there but overall some of the minor characters added to the plot in a big way. There is also great diversity in the characters.

The plot is one thing that saved this book for me. It was unique, intriguing, and at times quite heartbreaking. I liked how different the three gangs were. I was not a fan of the romance that was involved and felt that it didn’t add to the story. It was insta-love and that’s one thing I do not like. As for the plot twists, there were some but only a few were surprising. I also didn’t like the ending and felt that it was rushed and didn’t have enough closure as to what happened with certain people and the wars.

Overall, I am a bit disappointed I didn’t like this book as much as I had hoped. It did have diversity and an interesting plot but it just had one too many issues for me to fully enjoy. Shannon Price’s writing is wonderful for a debut novel and I will be looking forward to seeing what she writes next.

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Karlita | Tale Out Loud.
109 reviews79 followers
Want to read
July 29, 2019
Hi guys! I am co-hosting an INTERNATIONAL BLOG TOUR for A Thousand Fires by Shannon Price with Afire Pages and the Blog and Bookstagram Tour Sign Up is now officially LIVE.

Please check details on my blog by clicking the image below!

Tale Out Loud
Profile Image for Sam.
264 reviews19 followers
September 17, 2020
A Thousand Fires promised an impressive premise drawing inspiration from The Outsiders and The Iliad and strangely enough it actually delivered quite well on this, without being too obvious or overplayed. Full disclosure, I haven't read The Outsiders so I could only judge the inspiration from The Iliad and I gotta say ... I'm not mad.

CW: self harm, death (and can I say I'm so happy the author wrote CW's herself and published them on her website)

We are wild, neon-blooded devils as we go into the night

In A Thousand Fires we follow Valerie along her journey of grief and revenge, immersing her in with the gangs that have risen up in San Francisco. The one thing that really stood out for me was that amongst the world building and the character driven storyline, we were also introduced to the effects of gentrification and how privilege shapes our waking moments. These were commented on in a way which came across as really sincere and not as an author hoping to tick off 'diversity points'. Speaking of which, there is a wide range of well written representation in this book, including (but not limited to) Filipino biracial mc, queer supporting character (with no bury your gays trope!) and mental illness.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Whilst some parts were following an easy to guess plot destination, the journey there was no less enjoyable. It's refreshing reading a one-off novel that has a clearly defined ending without too much of a "what if" to spoil it.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Michele.
1,316 reviews
July 31, 2019
Wow! That one chapter has me absolutely, positively hooked and wanting more! A Thousand Fires has great potential and I look forward to reading it in its entirety. I can already tell that it will be full of twists and some unexpected surprises. It had a little West Side Story combined with Divergent vibe going on within that first chapter. That feel may change as the reader gets further into the book, but that was my initial impression. Now...how to wait until the book releases in November...

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this excerpt.
Profile Image for Anna Bright.
Author 4 books749 followers
October 8, 2019
i. don't have words for how much i adored this one. i'm so endlessly impressed with shannon's talent-- the pacing gallops, the characters are ferocious and sharp, and the plot and emotional stakes of the iliad transfer so well to a gang war on the streets of san francisco, which is obviously IRL the site of a lot of socioeconomic tension. i can't wait to see what shannon follows this up with.
Profile Image for Miranda.
159 reviews4 followers
February 10, 2020
Once I picked this up, it was nearly impossible to stop reading. Val is one of those main characters that is easy to get attached to; readers will find themselves wanting to defend her honor even if they don't necessarily agree with the way that Val has chosen to defend her own honor.
Profile Image for Joss.
114 reviews38 followers
April 7, 2019
This was amazing! I’m crying it was so good. It’s past my bedtime but I had to finish this.
Profile Image for Melanie  Brinkman.
619 reviews77 followers
January 20, 2020
When love hangs in the balance, where will your loyalties lie?

After her brother is killed by one of the city's games, The Boars, Valerie wants nothing more than to avenge his death. Once she turns eighteen, she manages to join The Stags, who promised to help her and asked her revenge. They reveal deeply guarded secrets about the gangs of San Francisco that could change everything. However, Valerie's heart is swayed by the call of her first love who offers another way out, but happens to belong to The Herons. Caught in a world far more bloodily entwined then she realizes, Val struggles to survive as she finishes what she came to do.

A story of motives far messier than they seem. A tale of a young girl driven by the need for revenge.

Trigger warnings for self harm, gun violence, trauma, murder, death of a child, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and underage drinking.

Courageous but troubled, Val was full of unwavering bravery. As we were kind of thrown into Val's world and mindset without a lot of introduction, it took awhile to warm up to her, but she was truly fierce as she set out to find her brother's killer. The biracial (half Filipina) teen learned a lot of information that weighed heavily on her heart and combined with her soul crippling past, caused her to strive for anything to alleviate the pain, no matter how unhealthy. She made a lot of choices that put her in unnecessary danger, but I adored Val, especially for her follow-through.

From The Stags, to her old flame Matthew, to the opposing gangs, it was horrifyingly interesting to see just how many people Val's crime-ridden San Francisco had swallowed. Her first meetings with The Stags revealed the group was comprised of some unique and dominating personalities. As the story progressed, we got to know more about the supporting cast and see the roles they played within the group. Unfortunately, while they started out with stunning characterization, they gradually became very stagnant. Val's heart was consumed by revenge for her brother, but two young men fought for her affection. Matthew, her ex, knew her history, but urged her to make commitments she didn't feel ready to make, leaving her with even more frustration. Jax, the leader of The Stags, was the dark and broody bad boy, who honestly elicited all of the bad sort of chills. Often volatile, demanding, and manipulative, he displayed of a lot of abusive behaviors. Jax was never truly held accountable for any of his creepy mannerisms, and I saw absolutely nothing alluring about him. Honestly, although I loved her, I wish Val would have guarded her heart better as she already was going through enough.

What are you willing to give up to get what you want? Val left normal life behind and entered a world of vengeance, lies, deception, and choices as she fought to soothe the ache of her soul. Never able to escape her guilt, Val's mental health suffered as she struggled to cope with her grief and figure out where her loyalties lie. Exploring both good and bad coping skills, I'm not entirely at peace with the representation of the bad skills, given that the motivations behind them were never truly explored. Blending The Iliad and The Outsiders with hints of Romeo and Juliet, this modern retelling was filled with love, lost, found family, and truth. Set against a detailed depiction of San Francisco, Shannon Price's novel also subtlety discussed privilege, gentrification, and the ways we can change the world. Although the structure of the gangs needed a bit of work, the action-packed sequences juxtaposed with moments of fraudulent calm kept me entranced in Val's world until the very end. The ending was rushed, but still took my breath away. Overall, A Thousand Fires was a brutal look at how far one girl was willing to go.

A Thousand Fires is a reminder that no matter your intentions, there will always be damage when you set a fire.
Profile Image for Emily G.
183 reviews43 followers
October 4, 2019
I was initially fascinated and drawn in by the plot of this book - a reimagining of the Iliad is an amazing concept. Unfortunately, however, the writing and the characters didn’t quite make the mark for me. I found character traits and plot progression to be a little forced - felt a lot more like tell than show.

While this book might not have been for me, I think the author does show a lot of promise and I’d be interested in checking out more from her in the future.
Profile Image for Surbhi Das.
484 reviews44 followers
September 26, 2019
I am having one bad streak after another with ARCs these past few months and the latest addition is obviously A Thousand Fires!

Right, where do I begin? A Thousand Fires is supposed to be a retelling of the The Iliad and to be honest, I haven't read The Illiad therefore my point of context is completely negligible. However, the reason that this book didn't work out for me is because, it seemed interesting to begin with but by the time I was done reading it I realised I wanted more from this story and what I got wasn't enough for me.

In the near future, San Fransisco is ruled by teenage gangs and our MC Valerie has lost his younger brother in a gang shooting. Somehow she feels responsible for it and she plans on taking revenge against the gang called Boar who is responsible for killing her brother. In order to do so, she is willing to join its rival gang on her 18th birthday and the story moves from there on...

Like I mentioned above, the book started on a promising note but it slowly went downhill for me. The plot is extremely inconsistent, the characters aren't fleshed out well and the history of how the gangs and the wars came to be is minimal at best. There are pages upon pages where absolutely nothing happens and the characters would just spend their time idling around and drinking then all of a sudden something big will take place without any substantial build-up. I didn't feel the grittnes or any sense of danger which being in a gang would have otherwise caused.

The characters too were very flimsily written and most of their motives felt unclear to me. Somethings, ex. Kate's depression and the relationship between Jax and Valerie felt abrupt and out of now where, I kept wondering whether I missed something. In fact, I couldn't really connect to any of the characters and the relationship development between Valerie and the other members of the gang that she joins felt underdeveloped, I ended up not really caring about these characters or the situation they were in. Honestly, I feel that the writing lacked depth and the ending somehow felt inconclusive.

That said, this book deals with some important themes like depression, PTSD and distress caused by guilt but at the end, poor execution of plot and bland characterisation left me feeling disappointed.

ARC received by Netgalley in exchange of my honest opinion.

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Profile Image for Teri.
Author 5 books145 followers
October 21, 2019
Gang wars, revenge, and volatile leaders?  As a Sons of Anarchy fan, I couldn't wait to read this (even though the gangs aren't MCs).

First, let me say that it took enormous effort on my part to put down my Kindle while reading this - I was riveted.  Valerie losing her younger brother is a tragic story, and her warring emotions are well-portrayed.  Important topics such as depression, cutting, and talk of suicide are also addressed.  While much of this book is very dark, having a supportive circle of family and friends is emphasized.  The origin of the gangs is explained well, and the Stags fight against gentrification is understandable.  I found myself rooting for them - just maybe not all the methods they use in their fight.

While I felt I knew Valerie and Micah pretty well, when it came to Jax, there were still several blank spaces by the end of the book.  Valerie's feelings for him seemed to be based on nothing more than his looks and the information he possessed that she wanted.  He's an interesting character, and I craved more details.  The Westons and their influence were also a gray area for me, and more explanation of their involvement would have helped.

Taking the subject matter into account, don't expect a unicorns and rainbow-type of ending, but many things are resolved.  With a compelling tale involving themes of family, revenge, betrayal, and grief, this is a fantastic debut novel, and I'll be looking for future books by this author.  

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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