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Monday, March 15, 2010

Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

Enna Burning (Bayern Book 2)by Shannon Hale
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy
Age Recommendation: 12+
Length: Full Length (317 pgs)
Rating: 4 Suns
Reviewed by Asphodel

Enna and Princess Ani became fast friends in The Goose Girl, but now that Ani is married to Prince Geric, Enna returns to the forest. Then Enna’s simple life changes for ever when she learns of her power to wield fire. Enna is convinced that she can use her ability for good — to fight Tira, the kingdom threatening the Bayern borders. But the power of the fire grows stronger and she is soon barely able to control it. Enna becomes more and more reckless and is captured by the Tiran army. A handsome and manipulative young captain drugs and holds Enna prisoner until Ani and her old friends Finn, and Razo attempt to free her. But has the desire to burn already gone too far?

Enna Burning is the direct sequel to Goose Girl and picks up the events of that book roughly a year and some months later. After her mother fell ill, Enna left Princess Ani's (or Isi to her friends) side to go back to the Forest and take care of her. Over the past year many changes have come to the Forest people; including new rights given to them by Geric and Isi, citizenship for Forest dwellers and a sense of true community.

Unfortunately not all are happy with the concessions that the Bayern royalty have granted them, one of whom is Enna's older brother Leifer who has never left the Forest. Seeking to bring the power back to his people Leifer uncovers an old secret that changes not only the course of the Forest dwellers lives, but that of Enna in particular.

As a sequel the book works very well. We catch up not only with Enna, but also Razo, Finn, Isi, Talone and Geric. We learn what everyone has been up to in the last year, as well as the rising tensions with the Tiran people. The Enna of Goose Girl and the Enna of Enna Burning are like two sides of the same coin. In Goose Girl, Enna was a sassy, confident, brave and loyal friend to Isi. She believed in her and sought to help her when no one else did. In Enna Burning however she is a disquieted young woman, uncertain where her path lies and uneasy about the restlessness she feels no matter where she is. She left Isi's side because she felt no longer needed, and is discontent with the Forest's simpler life.

She begins to feel as if she has a place after her brother finds a piece of vellum that calls strongly to the kinship she feels with Fire. She feels the danger in it though, sees the misery and chaos it can cause if she doesn't control it and once again flees--this time scared that she'll hurt everyone she loves. In the enemy's camp she learns more about herself then she thought possible; the strength of her endurance (and weakness), the limits she places on herself and what it means to be both a Forest dweller and city girl. The Enna in the Tiran camp, facing off against Sileph, longed to be just Enna again for a little while. Enna without the fire. Enna who didn't burn. It was who she was, just as Isi had her wind and animal speak, Enna had her fire that stoked her every thought and feeling.

I admit my heart was in my throat a couple times, when I as a reader could understand and see things that Enna could not (not yet at least). Enna's emotions burn hot and flare quickly, she's a passionate girl who was all at odds with the sudden changes of her life. I felt so bad for her, but at the same time I could see the growth and maturity that each bump in the road afforded her. At the end, when she realizes certain things about Sileph and herself, I cheered her on.

While I still prefer Isi's story and think it the best, Enna Burning was a wonderful, enriching follow-up that gave us a chance to see how our friends in Bayern have been doing as well as learn a little more about Isi's own protector, Enna. A great companion book to Goose Girl.

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