The Fire Sermon – Francesca Haig

The Fire Sermon – Francesca Haig

Title: The Fire Sermon
Author: Francesca Haig
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 23rd February 2015
Pages: 419
Rating: 4/5 stars

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When Zach and I were born our parents must have counted and recounted: limbs, fingers, toes. The complete set. They would have been disbelieving – nobody dodged the split between Alpha and Omega.

Born as twins. Raised as enemies.
One strong Alpha twin and one mutated Omega; the only thing they share is the moment of their death.

The Omegas live in segregation, cast out by their families as soon as their mutation becomes clear. Forced to live apart, they are ruthlessly oppressed by their Alpha counterparts.

The Alphas are the elite. Once their weaker twin has been cast aside, they’re free to live in privilege and safety, their Omega twin far from their thoughts. 

Cass and Zach are both perfect on the outside: no missing limbs, no visible Omega mutation. But Cass has a secret: one that Zach will stop at nothing to expose.

The potential to change the world lies in both their hands. One will have to defeat the other to see their vision of the future come to pass, but if they’re not careful both will die in the struggle for power.

I was supposed to be on a book-buying ban, but this together with Shadow Study made that too difficult and I gave up on my first day….. Oops – I suppose now that it is a new month I can try to get through all the unread books I have here before buying more? Working in a bookshop makes restraint very difficult….

Anyhow, I am incredibly glad that I did buy this book because it was fascinating! The world as we know it is gone – radiation has haunted the world for generations. Only now are children born perfectly formed – but only one in a pair of two. The other is generally physically misshapen, though Cass is different. She is a Seer – she has vivid memories of the blast which destroyed the world, and sees future events. She also has a perfect sense of geography.

Cass had a really engaging voice and was easy to empathise with. She hides her mutation for as long as she can, so that she is not cast out from her family. This leaves her brother Zach and herself in a limbo state – neither can be accepted by the Alpha society but nor can they be rejected. That is, until Zach tricks her into revealing herself.

Zach accumulates power in his new position in Alpha society, making up for the lost time when he wasn’t part of it. Cass becomes a danger to him, an easy target for assassins – and so he imprisons her. During this time, Cass feels herself going crazy – the analysis of her state of mind is very realistic. She escapes and along the way and releases Kip, another Omega she find trapped and semi-conscious in a tank.

The Confessor, a seer working with the Alphas, is a great villain. She is ruthless and ambitious, and her seer powers make her pretty scary. She and Zach work incredibly well as the antagonists of the story. I like that the story means it isn’t as simple as killing the villains off – Cass must work to change Zach’s mind about the Omega’s place in society – there is no point in merely overthrowing the Alphas, as the Omegas will die too.

Piper is another great character – head of a group of revolutionaries Kip and Cass come across. He is an ambitious Omega and we get the chance to meet his Alpha twin too – the interactions Haig creates is cool, though she does tend to mention the ‘symmetry’ between pairs of twins quite a lot.

Overall, the world is an incredibly interesting place inhabited by well-written characters. The writing is rather simple, no convoluted fancy talk. It reads like a YA book, although it is categorised as adult fantasy, and I would be more inclined to call it YA fantasy. It is a really excellent read, particularly for those who enjoy the dystopian genre, and books such as The Hunger Games and Divergent series. I also think fans of Throne of Glass will get a lot out of this book, as there are some pretty decent fighting scenes! There is a little romance, but not too much, which also made me happy! Too much romance ruins the plot!

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