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The Language of Fire: Joan of Arc Reimagined

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  213 ratings  ·  57 reviews
The Language of Fire is a lyrical, dark, and moving look at the life of Joan of Arc, who as a teen girl in the fifteenth century commanded an army and helped crown a king of France.

This extraordinary verse novel from award-winning author Stephanie Hemphill dares to imagine how an ordinary girl became a great leader, and ultimately saved a nation.

Jehanne was an illiterate
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ebook, 512 pages
Published June 11th 2019 by Balzer + Bray
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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Kimberly Antill
I have always loved reading about Joan of Arc. A teenage girl in the 1400s is raised above her station and called by God to fight among men and unite France. It's amazing for it's time. It's amazing for any time. And Stephanie Hemphill does a wonderful job capturing the life and the legend of the Maid of Lorraine.

In the Language of Fire, Joan is everything I thought her to be. She is courageous and strong but also humble and pious. Her character is complex and human. And while her life was
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Katherine
This book begins when Joan of Arc, in her early adolescence, first hears the voice of God assigning her the task of helping to end the Hundred Years' War, and continues up to and beyond her death. Told in the format of a verse novel, the book reimagines the rise of a well-known historical figure in a way that feels completely fresh and full of the kind of details that are often discarded when discussing the almost mythical leader. An excellent retelling.
Saruuh Kelsey
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm always on the look out for new novels in verse, so when I saw a poetry book about Joan of Arc? No brainer, got it instantly.

This book is, as you would expect, difficult to read at times. It shows the best and worst parts of religion, humanity, and the treatment of women at the time (and does a not terrible job of reflecting the current state of things, either.) I didn't enjoy the book per se, I don't think you CAN enjoy something this rough and difficult to read, but I am glad I read it. I
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Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
Plot twist: she dies

Why have I never read verse before this year?! It lends itself SO WELL to historical fiction!
I really liked the start of this book especially since her family life is not something I've really ever heard of. I also loved how this showed how heavily manipulated faith was in order to suppress women. Also, big shout out to the author for simplify the Hundred Years War and complex political conflicts into like 3 digestible pages at the beginning.
Caylynn Bleess
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Even if I can't change the direction of the wind, why must I agree that foul air smells sweet?

Meh. I can't say that I really enjoyed this one as much as I hoped I was going to. Admittedly, I found myself continuously comparing this novel to David Elliott's Voices that was published back in March of this year. I was absolutely blown away by that novel, since it was my first introduction to fiction told through verse.

However, The Language of Fire just fell a little too short for me. Where
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Jordan
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know much about the story of Joan of Arc other than the simple details of her hearing angels, helping to crown the Dauphin, and subsequently being burnt at the stake by the English. That being said, I really enjoyed this book!

The point of view of Jehanne (as she called herself) was so vivid. I felt as if I was with her throughout her journey. However, I would have enjoyed knowing what was happening in a broader sense, like what other people were thinking or doing. I might end up looking
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Claire
Oct 31, 2018 marked it as to-read
UM YES PLEASE

Joan of Arc is the best
Kelly Hager
Stephanie Hemphill explains in a note before the book begins that she chose to call Joan of Arc Jehanne because that was how she referred to herself. Also, like her other books, this is a novel in verse.

I didn't know very much about Joan of Arc before reading this book. (Young girl hears voices from God, leads an army, burned at the stake, eventually canonized.) I'm over twice her age now; she was martyred at 19.

Another thing I didn't know is that she started hearing voices (technically, she
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Emilee King
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I should’ve guessed this book would be a little heavy, but I’m shocked at how much it hit me. Such a unique blend of history, fiction, and faith. Honestly makes me wish for more female-led scripture stories. Not only did I learn a lot, but Jehanne’s personal and endearing narrative combined with a unique writing style and hard-hitting tale makes for powerful storytelling 4.6/5
Jennifer
3.5/5 stars

The Language of Fire is a Young Adult version of Joan of Arc told through verse.

This book is divided into eight parts and tells the story of Joan of Arc. The book starts with a very long foreward explaining the actual story.

Before reading this I wondered if the verse would be extremely complex. But the book is written quite simply, in very short chapters. And it was easy to understand.

The narrator is Jehanne (how the author refers to Joan of Arc). The book comes across almost as
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Dawn Ferencz
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book took me a while to read, but I learned a lot about Joan of Arc and appreciated the way the author helped take us inside the story and situation.
Robin Bigda
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I do love a good heroine story that’s historically accurate. And I do so love a novel in verse. This novel has both. I’ve always loved Joan of Arc. This story chronicles Joan’s earlyish life to her martyrdom. Creative liberties were taken. But overall, it’s based in history.
Kate
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
My first novel in verse! Beautiful and haunting.
Shauna Yusko
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Long but good. Pair with Elliott’s Voices
Kimberly
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've always been fascinated with Joan of Arc and this reimagining of her life was a wonderful exploration into her journey. I am inspired by her. Although I'm not particularly religious, I am her for Joan because she was steadfast in her beliefs and although she may not have intended to be she was quite ahead of her time.
Sophie
Jun 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I don't have much taste for verse, but I received an ARC and IT'S JOAN OF ARC. She and I have been tight for a long time. The verse was very accessible and being written for a younger (teen/YA) audience didn't detract from the quality. The style feels simplistic but compliments Joan’s earnestness and devotion. Excuse me while I go rewatch Joan of Arc (1999).
Lauren
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, spirit, library-book
This book is a stunner, an epic work of poetry retelling the story of Joan of Arc in a very accessible and modern way. It’s meticulously researched and focuses more than anything on her humanity—her fears, her doubts, her devotion, and her bravery. I couldn’t put it down. It’s a story all girls and women need right now. She spoke her truth and never backed down. She was a true warrior.
Kristen
I love novels in verse and I love historical fiction and I really love strong, warrior women. This version of Joan of Arc's story begins with the horrific knowledge that our protagonist will be burned at the stake. Then reading the story of this unwavering and powerful teenage girl makes us ache.
Tamara
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, arcs, 2019
Even if I can't change
the direction of the wind,
why must I agree
that foul air smells sweet


The Language of Fire is a fascinating novel. It recounts Joan of Arc's life from her childhood to her early death and fills this myth of a girl with so much life and detail.

It does all that in verse form which is a fascinating writing style in itself and which works beautifully in this context.

Though the plot sometimes drags and the battles and journeys weren't as interesting to me as I would have liked,
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Tasya Dita
I received an e-ARC through Edelweiss Plus in exchange for an honest review

Joan of Arc has been a fascinating figure for many centuries for many people. There's not many known of her as a person, what we know of her is claim to be chosen by God, her subsequent role during the 100 years war and her eventual death. Many fascination rests on the fact she was a simple farmer's daughter, whose role and place were defined strictly at her time, and yet she managed to lead an army towards victory.

This
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Kiara
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book occupied the strange middle ground between prose and poetry, and I personally didn't really enjoy it. I felt like the writing wasn't flowery enough to be poetry, but was way too lyrical to be prose. Aside from the language and the formatting, I feel as if this book would have been better served by explaining more of the historical context of the 100 Year's War, framing Joan of Arc's story in the larger events of the time. But damn, what a story it was. Hemphill nails the details about ...more
Katherine
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
The Language of Fire is Joan of Arc's story from her own perspective, told in verse. The poems easily flow from one to the next, making a timeline of Joan's life from her childhood and first encounters with the voice of God, to her finals days and execution. In terms of structure, this was very similar to another book I've read, Blood Water Paint . I love seeing these new ways of telling stories becoming more popular. I think it adds a new element to them, especially stories like Joan's that ...more
Sesana
I couldn't help but compare this to Voices, another recent novel in verse about Joan of Arc. Elliott's version had better verse, for the most part, though Hemphill's is perfectly fine. Read this if you want a much more historically grounded version of her life, though. I feel like Hemphill had a much better understanding of Joan, and she also didn't throw in any weirdly sexualized metaphors, rarely appropriate in any case but even less so in Joan's.
Samantha
Dec 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: teen, historical
Despite being written in verse, this was a little long for me. I knew very little about Joan of Arc prior to reading this, but now I feel like I know everything there is to know. Yes she was an incredible person who did incredible things, but it was still a little long winded. I felt more like I was reading her diary rather than someone else's words some 600 years later. The author obviously did a ton on research, and it shows. The ending is of course sad, but I like how the author includes what ...more
sgould8
This is an intense story- absolutely amazing what thirteen year old Jehanne/Joan of Arc set into motion and accomplished in the 15th century. With everything going against her- her sex, age, and social status- she managed to lead an army and accompany the king of France to his coronation. I hope that's not a spoiler; we probably all know how it ends.

The book itself is told in verse, so it flies by. Historical fiction, but very unique, and in the YA section of my public library.

Highly recommend
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Elizabeth
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism, poetry
While it was a little dry for some of the historical parts (the travel and battles, mostly), I thought it was overall interesting and offered insights about society's treatment of women that are still relevant. It was also quick to read and absorb.

I'll be sure to check out the author's Wicked Girls someday (about the witch trials in Salem), to see if it's similarly reflective about women and history.


(EDIT: I forgot to note that my copy was an ARC, so it did have some typos and I'm assuming
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Christine
I enjoyed learning more about Joan of Arc, a historical figure I previously knew little about. It is obvious from reading the author's note that Ms. Hemphill is passionate about Joan of Arc and that her novel-in-verse was well-researched. However, at more than 500 pages, I thought this book was twice as long as it needed to be. I was bored by the detailed descriptions of the battles and Joan's travels. Overall, I am giving this novel 2 stars.
Lisa
Jul 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Language of Fire, Stephanie Hemphill has"reimagined" Joan of Arc's tale and told it not only in verse but in Joan's own voice. She elects to refer to Joan as Jehanne, which is how Joan referred to herself in documentation of the time.
There was so much about Joan of Arc I didn't know and this book really enlightened me as to her journey, how she became a soldier and led the French Army and of her downfall and ultimate execution. It is not light reading but well worth the time to read.
emma
Jun 20, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I have a hard time reading books about Joan of Arc who subscribe to tropes that she hated femininity and things like sewing. This occurs within the first three pages of this book. I've read enough about Joan of Arc to know that this is a modern projection- there was nothing or little in history to suggest this. I might still read this book, but really, this grates on my nerves so much.
Sherry Guice
I have become a bit obsessed with Joan of Arc this year via YA verse novels. I enjoyed this book, but Elliot's book "Voices" was better written with quotes from Joan of Arc taken from her trials and focused on her final days. This book is longer, but gives more background and history. Not sure students will enjoy either of these...though I had very little background knowledge myself.
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Stephanie Hemphill's first novel in poems, Things Left Unsaid, was published by Hyperion in 2005 and was awarded the 2006 Myra Cohn Livingston Award for Excellence in Poetry by the Children's Literature Council of Southern California.

Her second novel, a verse portrait of Sylvia Plath, Your Own, Sylvia was published by Knopf in March 2007. A third novel in verse for teens, Wicked Girls, a verse
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“I want to stay young
and pure and free,
unstained by the sin of Eve.”
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