[REVIEW] The Fire Sermon – Francesca Haig

Characters – 5/5
Plot – 5/5
Style – 5/5
World building – 4/5
Overall – 5/5

In a Tweet
Time is running out for Cass & the Omegas if her brother’s plans come together. Can she escape & find the rebellion before it’s too late?

THE FIRE SERMON is the stunning debut novel from Francesca Haig, released in hardcover on 26th February 2015.

As a Seer, visions of The Blast which reduced the world to dust haunt Cass. She wakes screaming every night, horrified by the destruction that tore The Before apart and left The After; her world. Being an Omega, these visions are just one of the many burdens she cannot escape.

In The After, children are born in pairs – one perfect Alpha destined for privilege and authority, and one mutated Omega shunned from society and treated as filth. The Alphas reign supreme with the best land, cities, facilities and all the power, while the Omegas are thrown out of the community and horribly oppressed. But still, Alphas can never fully wash the taint of their poisoned siblings away. They are linked. When one twin dies, so does the other.

This bright twist on a timeless tale of segregation and uprising makes THE FIRE SERMON stand out in a well-developed genre. The rules of Cass’ world are logical and binding, no exceptions. Once the Omega is discovered, the twins are ripped apart and sent to live the lives destiny prescribed them. Cass may have escaped the split for a few precious years, but once her visions were discovered there was no fighting back. The Alphas are torn between hating their siblings and wanting to protect them, and what Cass’ powerful twin, Zach, has in mind is truly horrifying.

It is this unique history that makes the typical world and customs of Cass’ setting something more exciting than the expected. With sprawling countrysides and medieval citadels, the surroundings are reminiscent of classic high fantasy, but beautifully imagined.

The narration is full of rich imagery and wonderfully worded language. Haig is fluent in metaphor and Cass’ frequent reflections on her past draw us in to her history and give a true insight to her character. She is often reminded of childhood stories and experiences with her twin, creating a real melanchonly undertone throughout the story.

Cass is a mature and level-headed narrator, filled with a little longing and a good pinch of rebellious ideals about equality, but she always acts with a sense of purpose. She is pulled towards her goals by her visions, her moral compass and her heart. I was really impressed with how Cass was brought to life, and felt she truly embodied what it is to be a strong leader.

The relationships forged throughout the novel feel genuine and personal too. Kip is so endearing with a quick humour and a hidden depth that is slowly revealed as time goes on. They seem to grow together in a natural way, and it’s such a wonderful partnership to read. Even Zach has a soft and gentle side to his hateful coldness, as we see him through Cass’ love tinted eyes. With such a diverse and interesting cast, it was really enjoyable to see each character’s personality and development throughout the novel. Zach especially has a deep and complex motivation for his actions.

Story-wise, the plot and direction of the novel are really strong. I guessed a few of the twists along the way but the final chapters were a complete shock! There is a lot of tension and anticipation built throughout, so the ending worked incredibly well. The originality in Haig’s writing is fresh, so this isn’t just another tale of rebellion.

For me, the execution of THE FIRE SERMON puts it a step above a lot of books in the SF/Dystopia genre. The plot is compelling and exciting and the characters simply breathe off the page. I really fell in love with this book, and I encourage you to do the same.

I received THE FIRE SERMON from HarperVoyager in exchange for an honest review. My reviews always represent my own opinion.


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