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Addicted to Heaven #1

Bursts of Fire

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To survive. To fight. To restore balance.

The Falkyn sisters bear a burden and a legacy. Their mother, the imperial magiel of the kingdom of Orumon, protects her people from the horrors of the afterlife by calling upon the Gods with a precious Prayer Stone. But war among the kingdoms has brought fire and destruction to their sheltered world. When a mad king's desire to destroy the Prayer Stones shatters their family, the three girls are scattered to the wilderness, relying on their wits and powers they don't yet master.

Assassin. Battle tactician. Magic wielder. Driven by different ambitions, Meg, Janat, and Rennika are destined to become all these and more. To reclaim their birth right, they must overcome doubtful loyalties within a rising rebellion; more, they must challenge a dogma-driven chancellor's influence on the prince raised to inherit his father's war: a prince struggling to unravel the mystery of his brother's addiction to Heaven.

394 pages

First published August 6, 2019

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About the author

Susan Forest

24 books91 followers
Susan Forest grew up in a family of mountaineers and skiers, and she loves adventure. She also loves the big ideas found in SF/F, and finds fast-paced adventure stories a great place to explore how individuals grapple with complex moral decisions. Aurora Award winners, Bursts of Fire and Flights of Marigold, first books in her Addicted to Heaven series, confront issues of addiction in an epic fantasy world of intrigue and betrayal.

Susan is also an award-winning fiction editor, has published over 25 short stories (Analog, Asimov's, BCS, & more), and has appeared at many international writing conventions. She loves travel and has been known to dictate novels from the back of her husband's motorcycle. http://speculative-fiction.ca/

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 60 reviews
Profile Image for K.S. Marsden.
Author 15 books719 followers
February 22, 2019
It's a terrible thing, to see no future; but a powerful magiel has to protect her daughters.
The three Falkyn magiel sisters, have to embrace their fate, to survive a mad king.

I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

After their mother is disturbed that no magiel has seen a future beyond the year, a sign that their peaceful existence will be destroyed: she sets about planning the escape of her three daughters. They will become powerful magiels, and allies to kings and gods, if only they have the strength to survive.

I confess, when the book started, I was a little put off by the young, squabbling siblings. Meg and Janat are teenagers, and Rennika even younger. All they have ever known is a life of comfort, in the courts of kings. When their home is attacked and they have to escape, they are ill-suited to living rough, and take it out on each other.
This is only for the first couple of chapters, and things soon started to pick up. Sulwyn enters their lives, as their mother designed, and through him the girls become aware of the rebel force, gathering to oppose the king. At first, the girls are only concerned with survival; and the men in their lives see them as liabilities, mere girls that need protection. But slowly, they find their own drive and voices.

The world that Forest has created is brilliant. Different kingdoms, all ruled in a peaceful co-existence for generations.
Until an ambition king, and even more ambition magiel, conspire to break every pact and promise.
Each king has a royal magiel - someone of the highest magiel bloodline, that can access prayer stones. Their duty is to use these prayer stones to access Heaven, bring prayers to the gods, and to bring death tokens back for the people (people have to put death tokens in their mouths before they die, so their souls can go to Heaven, otherwise they are cursed to roam the land as fading ghosts).

King Artem goes against every code, when he decides that every stone should be destroyed, and only his Ruby stone preserved, forcing everybody to give up their religion and worship the One God.

Gods and the freedom to worship your own religion is at the background of this book, and drives the story, but it's done naturally and weaves subtly with the rest of the plot.
The book follows the men and women that are standing up to fight for their freedom, because you can't sit and wait for a higher power to save you.

This ended up being an intense and enjoyable epic fantasy, and I can't wait to see where the rest of the series leads.
Profile Image for Max.
734 reviews17 followers
March 21, 2019
Where do I begin? This was a very good fantasy book. But besides fantasy - there was more. It was also about mental health and other problems. The characters were good, very believable. I always love stories about great sister power! Also some characters put a lot of faith in religion, and I always find that fascinating.

The book started off slow for me - it's an epic fantasy where a lot of the world the story takes place in needs to be established. I was never thinking about DNF, but it wasn't sucked in from the start like with some books. I think the magic system could have been explained more and better. The second half was way more flowing for me. I loved the sister's individual struggles and how they got together in the end. There was some love and romance, but just a tiny bit, not too much.

So in short: loved the story, I hope there's a sequel. Check it out if you like epic fantasy.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC to read. Opinions are my own!
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,765 reviews583 followers
July 22, 2019
Their legacy was stolen from them, and now they must steal it back, but first they must learn to control the magic given to them in order to protect the Prayer Stone from destruction.

BURSTS OF FIRE by Susan Forest begins a journey into the world of epic fantasy and brutal wars waged in the name of convictions, beliefs and power. Everyone has a role to play as the battle lines are drawn, can the three sisters restore balance to the world they live in? What will it take to bring peace when ideologies clash? Who carries the truth in their soul?

After a pretty chaotic and choppy start, this tale settles into a story of love, hate, religious beliefs, loyalty and so much more that at times I felt I needed to back up to verify what I had read. Three sisters are ill-prepared to face their destinies, are feared and do not truly come into any type of defined characters until over halfway through this tale. I am not actually sure I could believe in them.

That said, the scenic descriptions and world building are powerful and easily imagined. The concept of bending time was intriguing, but needed more development and be less dependent on the reader’s ability to mentally define what was happening and why
Certainly some good writing went into this one and Susan Forest has a delightful imagination promises to grow with each book she writes!

I received a complimentary ARC edition from Laksa media Groups! This is my honest and voluntary review.

Series: Addicted to Heaven - Book 1
Publisher: Laksa Media Groups Inc. (August 6, 2019)
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy
Print Length: 548 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Janet.
119 reviews6 followers
August 1, 2019
This book started slow for me but it's an epic fantasy where a lot of the world they story takes place needs to be established. I think the magic system could have been explained better but it didn't suck from the start. There was more, it had mental health and the characters were good, very believable. I always love stories with great sister power! I enjoyed the story and hope there's a sequel.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an eARC to read!
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,475 reviews259 followers
August 1, 2019
DNF @ 20%

The concept of this YA fantasy sounded so promising. Unfortunately, it just wasn't for me. I was honestly bored out of my mind. A big part is that I couldn't get interested in any of the characters and the slow pace.
Profile Image for keikii Eats Books.
1,063 reviews54 followers
August 3, 2019
To read more reviews in this series and others, check out my blog keikii eats books!

61 points, 3 ¼ stars.
Warning: depictions of self-harm, suicide attempts

"But a wealthy country put greed above worship. An educated country questioned the divine right to rule. A country where men changed their stations became unstable."

Bursts of Fire showed a lot of promise from a rather new author. I read the description for the book and it stayed with me for days before I finally gave in and requested the ARC. I'm glad I did, and I'm looking for more from the next book in this series. Susan Forest just has so much potential to become great. Potential because I can see what she is doing, but the execution is just very.. young. There are a lot of mistakes that I see new authors make, that get stamped out over time. I'm looking forward to a lot from Susan Forest, because these are correctable problems within a series that interests me so much. Some of my favourite series started out this exact same way.

What caught my attention for Bursts of Fire original was the entire concept of the book. The whole idea of Heaven being a place where the kings and their magiels (religious magicians) go to is completely fascinating. Especially because it is to give their citizens an afterlife. Then, one king goes insane and ends up murdering all the other kings, and taking over their kingdoms? Holy shit, right?

There is so much more to it than that. No one knows why the insane king is doing what he is doing. No one knows why he is doing worse things than taking them over. He wants to take away their access to an afterlife. He is destroying their religion! Some of this is answered in the book, but there are just so many questions left! I'm certain they'll be answered in further books, and the sequels are that much more interesting to me because of it.

I also really like the problems all the kids have in the book. And there were a lot of kids, because this is primarily a young adult book. Which I did not get just from the description. Was a bit blindsided by this fact, even. I was expecting late teens/early twenties for the primary character, and a bit younger for the other two siblings. Even though they were teenagers instead, they acted so much younger, and with some reason. One minute, they were one step away from being princesses, the next they're in the wilderness, hunted by an enemy army, and just trying to survive. I liked it, to a point.

Meg is the oldest sibling at 16, going on 12. She is the one responsible for the other siblings, trying to keep them together, but not very good at it. And she acts so much younger than she is. She is supposed to be the most responsible of them all, but she just has never had to be responsible before now. And I really didn't care for her much. It isn't her fault, really. I just didn't care for her much.

Then there is her sister Janat who is 15 going on 8, who got slapped part-way through the book because of her dumbass actions, and thank everything. It made the book way more enjoyable because she stopped acting like a spoilt brat after it happened. Janat just wants to be treated like the near-princess she actually is, and she won't let reality get in the way of this fact. I have to emphasise this slap, because it was probably my favourite part of the whole book. I also hated Janat's "romance" with the 22 year old random man who acted 17 years old. Just... save me from teenage love, especially from teenagers who just want to be safe.

Lastly there is Rennika, who is 12 going on 5. She is the baby of the trio, always protected and coddled. She is also the most powerful of them all, and has to go through a lot of bullshit to convince her sisters of this fact. Rennika is also my favourite of them all. She goes through the most growth. She understands what their situation is the most. She is just the best of them.

These three siblings squabble and bicker constantly through the book. And it gets them into trouble more than once. Especially since one sibling will "get a good idea" and tell their siblings. They all disagree. The sibling that got the brilliant idea will go and do it anyway. Then, surprise! Not so brilliant!

We also get a few scenes from the enemy camp. With a boy who tries to kill himself. With his brother who just wants to please his father, the king who is taking over everyone else. From the enemy magiel who has some heinous plans. These were all much more interesting than the sisters, but also very disconnected from the rest of the story, especially in the beginning. It contributed to my flow problems with the entire book.

The biggest problem I had, though, was that the author forgot we didn't live in her head, The part of this problem that caused the most trouble with me is that Forest rarely explained key parts of the story and the world adequately. Then, there were really random bits of things that made absolutely no sense whatsoever thrown in wherever the author wanted them to be, yet utterly not connected to anything in the long run. Also, there were interesting side bits that appeared connected to the main story that were just tossed away, even when they were still useful.

The only reason I understood parts of this entire story were because I could fill in the blanks through lots of past experiences with the genre. The book played around with time, and it did some wonky things. Time skipped this way and that (more on this later). The narration had the same problem, with multiple characters getting introduced for brief moments then switching to another person.

Another problem I had with Bursts of Fire is that the magic system is almost unforgivably ill-laid out. At first, I understood that it was because the author wanted the reader to warm up to what was going on with magic slowly. The young characters didn't really understand what they were going through either, so why should the reader? But in the end, it goes back to what I have already said. The author just doesn't give enough details about anything. Even when the young characters started to understand, they didn't tell us readers. The magic system is a confusing array of the girls know enough to some things, but don't know enough to do anything effective. Until they do know enough, which is never shown, only told. And then we just have to contend with them getting into more trouble because they know some things now, but not enough experience to keep them out of trouble.

Even worse is that the author deliberately set up the magic system so that whenever the girls use any magic, they are able to see into bits of the future or the past. Yet, this is never once used throughout Bursts of Fire. I'll explain: the little girls saw bits and pieces, but nothing was ever learned or accomplished by them seeing these bits. Their mother was trying the whole book to get them to understand and do something, but it never worked. There was only one thing that they ever learned anything at all through it, the entire time, despite their mother actively trying to make them learn. And what they did learn never actually happened - at least at the time their mom said it would. This system is a nightmare, but it has a ton of potential. I just didn't actually get to see any of it yet. Unfortunately.

I honestly believe that within a few books, the author will figure out how to do all the problems I have laid out, as she gets better at writing. This was a rough start to a series. I firmly believe that the book should have been twice the length it actually is, just to truly explain and lay out what is going on within the words already established. It just needed more detail!

I received this as an arc quite a few months before release. A lot of the problems may be because the arc was released before it was ready. In which case I would feel really bad. Yet, I don't think that is the case, because the problems I had with the book would require massive rewrites. And, if it isn't the case, then I hope that, as I said before, Susan Forest continues to grow as an author even as she has already done throughout the course of just this book alone. This is an interesting story, just young in execution.

I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Susan Forest, Laksa Media Groups Inc, and Edelweiss for providing the opportunity to review this copy!
Profile Image for Marta Cox.
2,547 reviews190 followers
July 5, 2019
This turned out to be an amazing story in spite of hot mess at the beginning. Yes that's right I thought that initially the writing was terribly fractured as it jumped about giving multiple points of view which meant I had to read sentences again to work out which character the author or her editor had jumped to. Thankfully I persevered and got well and truly sucked into this amazing world although it didn't quite end the way I'd thought.
Essentially we have a society that worship several Gods and also a small faction who want to worship just the one God. In order to go to heaven when you die a person of royal blood and a Magiel ( someone who can perform magic and also travel in time ) must journey to heaven and appeal for tokens enabling the wearer to pass on into heaven and not remain a ghost.
We meet three sisters who are charged with the task of meeting up at a certain point in time in order to change cataclysmic events. What I found ironic was that the author also introduces three brothers whose lives impact on the girls although I hasten to add that essentially it's the sisters who rightly dominate this story. My favourite character was without a doubt Meg as she's brave and resourceful. Plus there's sibling rivalry although these girls are very young and their innocence and naivety all plays a part.
It's a brutal war fought out on these pages and all because of something that isn't explained until the end. Sadly the one person behind all the atrocities doesn't really appear much until the final few chapters. However it's left in such a way that I'm left wondering if just perhaps Meg and a certain brother will become entwined. Yes I admit I'm a hopeless romantic and this fantasy with its unique take on time travel has left me wanting more.
This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair
Profile Image for Calvin Park.
183 reviews44 followers
July 10, 2019
Bursts of Fire is an intriguing YA Fantasy read. In her debut novel Susan Forest tackles a number of important issues: addiction, self-harm, fear of change, abandonment, religious oppression. Each of these is dealt with in the larger context of war and who to trust. It’s a coming-of-age story that doesn’t pull any punches.

One of the things I really appreciated about Forest’s novel is the way it deals with some hard issues. This is not literary fantasy by any means, but it is guided by certain themes and topics. These work together to engage the reader and make the characters feel authentic. If anything, there were a couple times when I think the sheer number of issues Forest tackles meant that not as much time could be given to any one individual issue. Regardless, all of these are set within a fascinating and complex world. There are six kingdoms who have lived at peace for generations. Each kingdom has a line of kings and a line of magiel. The magiel use special prayer stones to enter the heavens with their respective king and retrieve death tokens for their citizens. When someone dies, their death token is placed in their mouth and this allows them to pass peacefully to the afterlife. Failing to have a death token means the person would be cursed to wander the world as a ghost. King Artem and his magiel aren’t content with this situation, however, and bring war upon the land. The religious system is unique and interesting and I love the relationship and interplay between the magic and religion. Speaking of the magic in this world, there are essentially two types. Worldling magic, which involves spellbooks and ingredients, and Magiel magic—which allows a magiel to bend time, bringing an old bush back to life, for instance. I found myself captivated by the complexities that this system introduced.

There were several things that didn’t work well for me, however. First and foremost among these was that I simply didn’t connect with any of the characters. Our main characters are three magiel sisters and Huwen, the son of King Artem. I found all of them to be more annoying than anything else, though toward the second half of the novel Meg did begin to grow on me, and to a lesser extent, so did Janat. This was not helped by the fact that the pacing was fairly slow for the first two thirds of the novel. By the time the end game kicked in things were moving along at a good clip, but it felt like there was quite a bit of setup, and this was particularly true in the first third of the novel. In addition to not connecting with the characters and finding the pacing slow, there were a couple plot holes in the novel. One of these relates to how King Artem was able to rapidly conquer five other kingdoms without them becoming aware that any of the others had been conquered until he showed up on their doorstep. To me, this was never explained satisfactorily and significantly impacted my engagement with and enjoyment of the novel.

A unique magic system and excellent world building make for a promising read. Unfortunately, the characters didn’t work for me and slow pacing and plot holes kept the novel from living up to the promise of the setting.


2.5/5 stars.

5 – I loved this, couldn’t put it down, move it to the top of your TBR pile
4 – I really enjoyed this, add it to the TBR pile
3 – It was ok, depending on your preferences it may be worth your time
2 – I didn’t like this book, it has significant flaws and I can’t recommend it
1 – I loathe this book with a most loathsome loathing
Profile Image for Marzie.
1,118 reviews92 followers
August 6, 2019
Bursts of Fire is the first book in a new trilogy, Addicted to Heaven and it would seem to have many elements I love in fantasy, in particular a strong bond between three sisters facing steep odds. However it also suffered from poor pacing, and what felt like an oddly developed plot. The Falkyn sisters, Meg, Janat, and Rennika are daughters of the imperial mage, or magiel, of Orumon, Talanda, and yet though their mother is a seer who sees a dark future or lack thereof ahead, she seems to do nothing to prepare her daughters with skillsets to deal more easily with what lies ahead, which seems to involve the worldings committing genocide. Seventeen-year-old Meg faces the daunting task of keeping her sisters safe, in a world where they cannot easily hide due to the "wavering" luster of their skin, revealing their magiel heritage. I found the world-building in the story to be frustrating due to a magic system that seemed overly elaborate. There are prayer stones of different precious and semiprecious stones, spells, and magiel abilities, which also appear to include traveling on different time lines. While I enjoyed relationship between the three sisters at times, I often felt the writing, particularly in the first half of the book, was somewhat choppy even though the pacing of the story itself seemed quite slow.

Bursts of Fire might interest older middle graders or high school students patient enough to get through the first half of the book. The politics and faith elements of the story will eventually engage the reader and could be thought-provoking. But it will take some effort to get there.

I received a Digital Review Copy from Laksa Media in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Judi.
284 reviews6 followers
March 11, 2019
The book started out slowly, causing me to rethink reading it several times. Thank goodness I continued. and gave it a real chance!

The storyline is complex, which may be what made it slow going in the beginning. It was necessary to pay very close attention at all times to keep track of all the characters, all the timelines and all the various magics used. Not to mention the gods. However, once those thing fell into place the story became very engaging.

Watching these 3 girls, Meg, Janat and Rennika, go from young, rather pampered royalty with magical gifts, their class referred to as magiel, to refugees from a war they didn't understand yet had to either avoid or become involved in was an interesting experience. Because this is fantasy, and not real world events, we can watch, feel, and engage with these girls without comparing their lives with our own, real lives. Yet, we find the author takes her fantasy tale and imbues it with real life problems such as addiction, depression, mental disorders, emotional growth and religious quandaries. She has cleverly interwoven these disturbing issues that plague people of all walks of life in the real world with her fictional characters; issues inflicted upon royals, peasants, the wealthy the poverty stricken, the young, the old and the religious alike just as they are in the actual world. These seem to be issues she takes very seriously and is very involved in when not writing or editing so it isn't surprising that she was able to craft so believable a novel surrounding such devastating problems.

With all that being said, the storyline is a well written fantasy about these girls, their trials and tribulations growing up in what becomes a war torn world surrounded by people they fear they can't trust due to their physical manifestations of their magiel status. There is the angst of young girls being torn from all they know, from their mother, their homes and their privileged way of life, and there is the growth that comes from living in constant fear and strife not knowing who to trust. There, of course, is young love, jealousy between sisters when both want the same man, and rebellion of the youngest when the dislike of being treated as a child comes to the fore. But there is also the abiding love that sisters feel for each other when tragedy strikes and they find all they have is each other.

Through war, fear, loss and uncertainty we are shown the growth of these girls as well as the tearing apart of their world. Knowing there is still more to come just makes it that much more engaging. So, yes, I am very glad I got past the beginning and continued reading.

Very well done, Susan Forest! Looking forward to the continuation of Addicted to Heaven.

This book was given to me as an ARC with the understanding that I would provide a true and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Meghan.
2,068 reviews
February 12, 2019
This book was received as an ARC from Laksa Media Groups in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

When receiving this book I did not know what to expect. They always say never judge a book by its cover and now I am starting to see why. I absolutely love this book for one reason, I share a name with one of the main heroines so that ALWAYS makes my reading better. I also loved this book because it reminded me of The Covenant but instead of friends and boys, it was girls and sisters with a huge family legacy that is bound to be theirs taken over by an evil dominant force. This book is packed with so much adventure and fantasy, that I could not stop reading and it will leave you anticipating until the ending, and those are the best books of all time.

We will consider adding this book to our YFantasy collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
59 reviews5 followers
February 23, 2019
I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This was a good book. I wanted to start off by saying that, because I don't know if I will finish the series. The story is great, but there are very few positive moments in it to break up the negatives. After the characters got over their attitude of looking for someone to take care of them, they became much more interesting and likable. There was an amazing amount of character development and the story is intricate and interesting. When it ended, however, I could not think of much in it that was happy. I don't know if the story will be enough to return me to this world.
Profile Image for amber.
279 reviews1 follower
March 20, 2019
So good!

I will say this, for me it had a bit of a slow start. But it did end up picking up for me and I got to the point where I just didn't want to put it down. I love the three sisters. I found them to be so relatable and realistic. From the beginning of the book to the end of the book there is a lot of growth and I am here for it!

A great read for sure.

This is a Netgalley ARC review.
Profile Image for Crystal King.
Author 5 books418 followers
June 17, 2019
Despite the slow slog at the beginning, I think that Bursts of Fire is a fantastic start to what I think will be a riveting series. Forest has developed a truly unique world with an interesting system of magic and gods. The squabbling, spoiled sisters start out as somewhat unlikeable characters but develop into their own over the course of the book as they navigate a world that is falling apart. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series!
Profile Image for Mary.
60 reviews
March 1, 2019
I am a sucker for a good story about sisterhood and this book really delivered. It was an added bonus that these sisters are magiels and are on the run from a mad king. I really appreciated the ending of this book and loved getting to see the characters grow and develop through the story. Excited for the next book!

** I received the ARC from netgalley in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for Alexandra WhimsyPages.
219 reviews23 followers
November 24, 2019
DNF @25 %

The premise of this book is very interesting, and I was actually enjoying the beginning. Basically, this is a world where magiels assist the kings and the people of the Kingdoms to cross over to Heaven after they die. Hundreds of years of peace between the Kingdoms were followed by an unpredictable attack. And now all magiels are either dead or hiding in fear for their lives.

I was enjoying this book until I just read about penis... I mean... isn't this supposed to be a YA book?! Was it absolutely necessary to include this random scene that added nothing to the story?!

I tried reading a bit more but quickly realized that that one scene put me off the entire book, and also I have no intention to read this series. It wasn't all too bad, and the idea is very cool. I also loved the parts where we followed the three magiel sisters, but it didn't grab my attention enough for me to continue.
Profile Image for Ilona .
213 reviews
August 13, 2019
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest. I’ve voluntarily read and reviewed this copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about Bursts of Fire. It’s a fantasy with a rich and complex world, wich I loved. But the story felt all over the place. There were perhaps too many elements which resulted in, at times, confusing storylines.

It also took me a while to get into the story but I did end up enjoying it. Bursts of Fire has promise to be the first installment of an entertaining and unique fantasy.

As for the characters, it took a while before they grew on me. Rennika is the only character that captured my interest immediately. Meg grew on me as the story progresswd but I did not connect to Janat. I do applaud Susan Forest for writing such a real and complicated sisterly bond. It really felt like the heart of the story.

I am curious to see where this story will go next.
Profile Image for The Reading Raccoon.
777 reviews107 followers
March 28, 2020
Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for this Review copy of Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest.
Although Bursts of Fire was well-written high fantasy with what should have been intriguing magical elements I found it to be a slog to get through. There wasn’t anything glaringly wrong with a the plot or the characters but it lacked any of the tension, humor, romance and action a reader requires to get hooked into the fantasy world of warring kingdoms. So you are left with just warring countries which I do not find fascinating.
Unfortunately, it was not for me.
Profile Image for Naoé.
694 reviews2 followers
July 8, 2022
I liked the concept of the book and the characters and the plot but I thought it was both a bit messy and a bit slow.
I enjoyed this book really but I guess I'll need to read the sequel to have more final thoughts about it I guess
Profile Image for Polina Ganeva.
24 reviews
April 2, 2019
Book thoughts in 300 words and 3 gifs

Three and half ‘Magiel’ stars 🐼🐼🐼🐼

‘Bursts of Fire’ is the first novel of Susan Forest’s series ‘Addicted to Heaven’ where she sets out to explore the complex world of addictions. Using a vast fantasy world as the backdrop, it makes for an interesting read with a unique premise.

The world is built beautifully, with descriptions scattered about the chapters, allowing the reader to put the jigsaw of that massive land of many kingdoms. The world was well-formed in the author’s head before she put it down on the page but I felt like some of the information is a bit too much for a first book – at times it was hard to keep up.

The plot is built well and fits with the overarching theme of addiction marvellously (retrospectively, as I didn’t realise it did until the very last page – in the author blurb). The unique take on the Heavens as a normal destination was refreshing and the whole idea with death tokens and magic being time, and the payment being jumping in your own timeline was simply delicious. So creative! Kudos, Ms Forest.

The pacing was strange – the jumps in time connected to the narrative, were executed poorly, leaving me thinking ‘Wait, what? When did this happen? Oh, it’s been three months.’ It was at times a very confusing read.

The characters are not this novel’s strongest point. There is good selection of different narrators, presenting plenty of different points of view but I couldn’t connect emotionally to any of them but Eamon – and the poor lad wasn’t even a POV character! I struggled with hearing their unique voices and had to frequently figure out who was speaking.

Despite that, it is a good tale of sisterhood. It was beautiful to see the three sisters survive together, grow apart and then find each other in a world that had robbed them of adulthood at their own pace.

Rennika is slightly unrealistic to me because she was such a mature, reasonable character – do 11-13-year-olds behave so well? Maybe. I am not convinced.

The writing style is good. But good means things could be better. There were spelling and punctuation mistakes and dubious grammar. Not too many but enough to make me want to mention them. I liked the extensive vocabulary of the author and her ability to tie it to complement a character’s inner world. Overall, well done.

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World 🐼🐼🐼🐼🐼
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An ARC of this book was kindly given to me by the publisher via NetGalley for a fair review. All views are my own. ‘Bursts of Fire’ comes out on August 6th 2019.

All of my reviews and more are available on my website.
Profile Image for Marlene.
2,847 reviews192 followers
August 23, 2019
Originally published at Reading Reality

I signed up for this tour because, well, epic fantasy has always been one of my loves, and this book looked interesting. I’ll admit that the series title, Addicted to Heaven, gave me more than a bit of pause, but as it turns out, the heaven that people are addicted to is nothing like contemporary Western versions of heaven.

Bursts of Fire is very much a part of the epic fantasy tradition. There were times, in fact, when it felt like specific epic fantasies. But it does such a good job of exploring both its new facets and riffing on the stories from which it sprang that it made for a darn good read.

And I was on an airplane and this book was next in my queue. Bursts of Fire turned out to be a terrific book to transition from Worldcon back to “real life” as I traveled from a place where everyone was talking about SF and Fantasy and back to the so-called real world where those discussions are not quite so commonplace.

The story of Bursts of Fire begins in the way that quite a few epic fantasies begin – where the kingdom is under siege and the heir to the throne gets smuggled out of town ahead of the rampaging horde.

And that’s where the differences begin.

The heir isn’t the heir to the throne. And the heir isn’t an heir. Instead, the heiresses to the king’s magical advisor, all three of them, sneak out of the capital with the help of their nanny. Who they still need, as the oldest girl is 17 and the youngest is 11. And none of them have the remotest clue about how to manage on their own – or how to manage period without people waiting on them hand and foot.

They’ll have to figure it out – and somehow manage to grow up, in the midst of a civil war where they are being hunted by both sides. The forces of the usurper believe that all magic is evil – and the rebels just want to use them for their powers.

Powers that they mostly aren’t trained to use. They’re alone, desperate, and on the run. But at least they have each other. Until they don’t.

Whether they can figure out the right course to save themselves, save each other, and save the people that they feel responsible for, is a race against desperation and despair.

And just when they think they might have a chance to right at least a few of the wrongs – they discover just how bad things really, really are.

Escape Rating B+: Bursts of Fire turned out to be a terrific airplane book. Anything that can keep me distracted for 3-4 hours of an 8 hour flight is very much appreciated. And this certainly did.

As has been a relatively recent but also extremely welcome trend in epic fantasy, Bursts of Fire is a heroine’s journey rather than a hero’s journey. Or in this particular case, three heroines’ journeys. At the same time, the story begins on a familiar note, as the chosen one – or in this case chosen ones – are thrown from their original setting to make lives for themselves, and oh-by-the-way save the world.

Part of what does make this a bit different is that there is no mentor character to provide guidance – or for them to rely upon. They lose Nanny almost immediately. She was the one their mother gave the plan to, so the girls are on their own, lost and desperate.

Also very, very young and completely out of their depth. Only the oldest, Meg, has a real clue about just how bad things are and just how much things have changed for them. Little Rennika is too young to understand, and middle-sister Janat is too self-absorbed.

Janat is a character that I never warmed up to, and her self-absorption and unwillingness to grasp their situation continues throughout the story, making this reader grateful that the relatively mature Meg is the primary point of view character.

Meg understands the stakes earliest. Rennika is young enough to adapt. Janat is a problem from beginning to end, a problem that it looks like is only going to get worse.

What’s gone wrong with the kingdom did not make much sense at first. The reader is dropped into the middle of the story, just as the girls escape – and no one seems to know why their ally has suddenly attacked. As the story progresses, it becomes clear – for select definitions of clear – that no one really does know why he went off the rails. They just see the effects – and those effects are gruesome.

War is hell, and civil war is particularly hellish. The rebels want peace and they want to go back to the way things were – as much as is possible after two years of war. The girls, who have become young women fired – or broken – in the crucible of that war want to save as many people as possible, want to reverse the sudden upwelling of prejudice against magic users fostered by the usurper and his advisors, and want to take up the purpose that their family has always undertaken – to visit heaven and intercede with the gods on their people’s behalf.

The magic system of this world is fascinating and different, and their gods are real and act upon their world in ways that can be seen and measured if not countered. The primary manifestation of that magic is the magic users’ uncontrolled shifting through time. Magic has a price, and becoming unmoored from the time you are living is part of that cost.

The glimpses that all three sisters receive of their past, present and future are sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes heartening, and always confusing. It is as much of a curse as a gift, but their ability to intercede with the gods is both powerful and necessary in this cosmos.

That the usurper is determined to break that connection powers his mad campaign against his former allies – and the reasons for that determination are shattering for the kingdom, the reader, and his heir.

That the heroines are all very young leaves this book, and presumably the series it begins, balanced on the knife edge between young adult and adult fantasy. The protagonists may be young adults, but the situations in which they find themselves feel adult in their consequences.

In the end of Bursts of Fire, we, and the characters, know more about the reasons for the fractured state of their world, but are no closer to a resolution. This is a story about a world that is broken – and it is not made whole by the end. There must be future books in this series, and I’m looking forward to reading them.
Profile Image for J.M. Dover.
Author 4 books6 followers
August 24, 2019
An awesome book I had trouble putting down! If you like epic YA fantasy, this book should be on your TBR list.

As an epic YA Fantasy spanning several books, the world building and setting must be complex and realistic. Although the book has a slow start, it was necessary to do an amazing job of creating the world and the magic system for this series.

It's hard to write a strong heroine on a difficult journey, but it’s even more difficult to write about three heroines on three different journeys. I loved Meg for her strength and courage, and I enjoyed following her story. Janat was hard to like because she seemed very selfish, and Rennika is a little unrealistic since she came across as very mature for her age. However, it is an awesome tale of sisterhood. About three sisters who survive together, then grow apart, and finally find each other at the end of the book.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this series to find out what happens to the sisters next!
Profile Image for Jennifer Rahn.
Author 13 books12 followers
December 21, 2019
Susan Forest comes out swinging in this first installment of the Addicted to Heaven series. Bursts of Fire is an impressive tapestry of world building and character development. The three Falkyn sisters, daughters of the Royal Magiel and novice magic-wielders themselves, are cast out of their home when King Artem seemingly goes mad, commanding the destruction of all Gems that allow Magiels to give their followers access to Heaven upon death--except for one, the Ruby that his own Magiel possesses. Meg, Janat and Rennika are forced to adapt to their new, harsh lives in the midst of war and hide from King Artem's soldiers, who would put them to death. Multiple subplots carry the story forward to the climax where it is revealed why Artem had suddenly started the war, and what is to follow.

The prose is smooth and skillfully written. A pleasure to read.
Profile Image for Robert W. Easton.
Author 7 books12 followers
December 25, 2019
Astounding, richly original fantasy!

I was blown away by the setup to this story. Three daughters of a mage get involved in an ever escalating power struggle. The magic worked by the magicians gives partial glimpses of the future. In this manner, a sort of dark prophecy unfolds but one which might be avoided.

The author keeps you grounded in the world, not over explaining, just immersing you in this somewhat familiar yet magically original fantasy setting. Hints of the broader setting leave plentiful room for future growth in the series.

Definitely following this author so I don't risk missing her future releases.
Profile Image for Annarella.
10.5k reviews99 followers
March 31, 2019
An amazing book, I was hooked after few pages and had to read it as fast as I could.
The world building was amazing, so complex and realistic.
I loved the plot, the well written cast of characters and the setting.
I look forward to reading other books by this author.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
79 reviews8 followers
April 14, 2019
A gripping, political fantasy novel that I couldn't put down. I loved the Magiel's magic with their shifting skins and found their ability to move things through time intriguing. This book was incredibly unique and differs from anything I have previously read. I would recommend this book to any fantasy reader.

I received this title on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Suzanne.
148 reviews2 followers
April 6, 2019
Absolutely loved the world building in the novel. Interesting growth of the characters as they struggle to find their way through the war.
Profile Image for Jen.
227 reviews32 followers
July 17, 2019
I made it 50% into Bursts of Fire before I ended up putting it down and not finishing.

The premise was so amazing. There's multiple kingdoms and each kingdom has a line of magiels. Each magiel can go into Heaven and get death tokens for their people. If you don't eat a death token before dying you're doomed to wander earth as a ghost.

There's two kinds of magic in the story; magiels and worldlings. Worldlings can do magic but it's with herbs and spells and such. Magiels don't necessarily need those things to do magic. Magiels also have shimmery/blurry skin so it's easier to pinpoint who is magiel and who isn't.

So here's where my issues begin. We start the story with a high magiel warning others of impending doom. She cannot see beyond the next year or so of her life. Does she spend this time preparing her daughters for what she sees coming? No. They're pampered and barely given any skills to survive. But the mother makes plans for her kids when this event is supposed to happen, but doesn't share much with them about said plans.

So most fantasy stories I read have split kingdoms, etc. and the people have only known heartache and despair for their lives. This isn't the case in this story. As this story starts, the kingdoms have been peaceful for generations and the kings are kind and just (I mean except for one but no one wants to believe he'll turn on them).

I also struggled with how one king could suddenly overcome so many kingdoms and no one stood up to him or even tried? If there's that many kingdoms and he overtook one, how did word not eventually reach other villages and areas so people could band together? Not to mention, didn't the original lady who started the story predict WHO was going to turn on them?

As for the main characters of our story, the girls themselves are ok. They're siblings so there's a ton of bickering, which is ok to an extent, but I found I didn't really connect with the three of them on any deep level.

Where I stopped reading was when one of them who barely was aged 16 suddenly got into a physical romance with an older guy they'd met. There's no spark or hint of romance until suddenly there is and they just hop into bed. And the way he was described was much older than the girls, and obviously much older than the one he suddenly decided to sleep with.

My last issue was the execution of all the magiels, but the one who is ordering their execution wants to kidnap some and make new magiels? Wouldn't it have been maybe easier to take the magiel children and raise them how you wanted, instead of slaughtering them all and then being like, "Oh hey we should probably maybe have more magiels except for just me."

I'm so disappointed because I really wanted to love this story. Like I said, the premise was so promising and I LOVED the idea of the gems and different magiels in each kingdom, but then one we get into the story it just didn't pan out the way I hoped.
Profile Image for Nessa.
367 reviews13 followers
February 6, 2020
I’m completely at an impasse with this book. On one hand, Bursts of Fire has everything I am looking for in a new fantasy series: great cast of characters, intriguing and original plot, refreshingly unique magic system and EPIC world building. On the other hand: I just couldn’t connect. How do you accurately review a book that has everything you love and need but just could not, for the life of you, get into it?

Answer: Stay as neutral as possible.

Honestly, there is not a single thing I could say to explain why I didn’t love this book. Susan Forest has written what I’m sure is the beginning of an incredibly epic fantasy journey and she has done it
beautifully! This world is so vivid that I felt I could just jump right in and join in the fun. Even the political and religious aspects, while important to the story, didn’t overshadow or take away from other parts of the book which I find a lot of authors tend to struggle with. There was an excellent balance and, as
someone who tries to shy away from those overly political and religious worlds, I appreciate it!

If anything, my connection to Meg, Janat and Rennika (especially Meg) could play a big part in how impartial I am to this story. The sisters just didn’t draw me in as the heroines I was expecting to love and that disconnect most certainly affected my enjoyment. At the same time although these siblings could
definitely use some development as large players in this game, which would make creating a connection to them easier, you have to keep in mind that Bursts of Fire is just the first book in a LONG journey so if the author overdeveloped them now….there would be no room to grow as the story moves forward. If this was a standalone or even a trilogy I would say that these girls would be a deal breaker for me but I
know the author must have big plans for them in the future so an early disconnect is a small price to pay
for what I’m sure will be a very big pay-off.

I know this review has been about as helpful as a spoon in a snowstorm but I really wanted the point to hit home that even though I didn’t enjoy this book, I also didn’t not enjoy it. I truly believe that Bursts of Fire was case of right book at the wrong time and it has so much potential that I’m not quite ready to give up on it just yet. I will be revisiting Susan Forest’s Addicted to Heaven series but I think I’m going to
hold off until it is complete, or at least close to. My gut tells me that this is something I will love and I want to make sure I’m prepared when the time comes for me to hop on that ride.

Also…that cover is gorgeous so if the rest of this series looks like that, I’ll be happy to have them on my shelf until I’m ready for them.

Thank you to NetGalley and Laksa Media Group for providing me with a copy of this book to read and
give my own, honest opinion
52 reviews3 followers
September 9, 2019
This book has three heroines who start out as refugees from a war they have no idea was going to happen. I like that they all have different responses, all believable, and all sympathetic. Meg wants to fight back, Janat wants to put her head under the covers, and Rennika is traumatized and just wants to be safe. Forest does a really good job of showing how the sisters can all go through the same awful events and come out with very different goals.

I think the prologue is a little difficult to jump into, but I'm really impressed with the tight, fast pacing of the plot. Once events get going, and everyone is thrown into new situations, things spiral out of control quickly, but Forest's writing is confident and never loses clarity.

For example (MILD SPOILERS), the final battle scene is (as it should be) epic. Our three heroines are at different places when it starts, and have different perspectives on the events, but with each passing scene things get worse, and worse, and worse, but the sisters come together and find each other in the chaos of battle. We always know how the tide of battle of going, who's fighting where (and why - because they're fighting for different reasons). I found the last ten chapters to be incredibly suspenseful and hard to put the book down.


The other thing I'm really impressed with is the magic system in the book. There's a lot going on: a revolution in technology, a change of political/religious systems, and magic on top of that. Without ever stopping to Explain The Rules, Forest clearly outlines what powers her heroes have and what they can and can't do, and the price it exacts from them. Plus, it's really cool! I haven't seen magic that works like this. Yes, there are 'ingredients' and 'potions' and 'spells' - but they're done in a really unique way. All while keeping each scene focused on what matters - the characters' emotions and their reactions to their circumstances.

This is the first book in a series so Forest also has the job of laying down some threads for the next book, and she does it admirably. There's enough sense of conclusion at the end that you feel satisfied (both happy and sad), but there's also a mystery set up and a new fight just around the corner.

Minor quibbles might be that I'd love to *see* more of this world, more description and sensation, but really, I think that's just because I want to spend more time with these characters and seeing what they see. With the fast action and quick plotting, the lack of long descriptive paragraphs makes sense. I guess I'll just have to wait for book 2 to get more time with these three characters.
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