Firespell - Review

Firespell (The Dark Elite, Book 1) by Chloe Neill
Publication date: January 5, 2010
ISBN 10/13: 0451228863 / 9780451228864

Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: eBook
Keywords: Magic, Boarding School, Secrets, Power, Greed, Friendship

Find the synopsis on

How I found out about this book: Listed on the 2010 Debut Author Challenge at and

Quickie: If you're still heart-broken over Buffy ending many moons ago, this new group-of-teens-fighting-evil give off a great Scooby-Gang vibe that will keep you coming back for more.

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My review:

At first it started out ho-hum, smack in Mary-Sue territory--smart, pretty girl, everyone loves her, parental guidance is suddenly replaced by chi-chi boarding school and she makes a new BFF the first day. Though it took a while to get there, the story started turning Buffy-esque--more of an homage rather than a copycat, which is good--after the first 100 pages or so, and kept me up well past my bedtime, though not quite until dawn (it's only about 250 pages).

A few of things saved this from the 3-star, "I like you, but just as a friend" rating territory:

1) Scout rocks! I kind of feel like she's the main character and Lily's the Watson to her Sherlock. But I think that's just because Lily hasn't quite blossomed yet. Anyway, well-drawn secondary characters abound and save the book from being all Lily, Lily, Lily--the kind of thing that really put me off some other similar books recently (Evermore, Fallen, *cough*Hush, Hush except for Patch*cough*).

2) I ♥ Chicago. Well, at the very least Neill has written a nice little love letter to ChiTown. Scout takes Lily on a very loving tour of the city and those parts are so well done, you'll want to go to there. (no, not a typo--go watch some 30 Rock and you'll understand.)

3) Goodbye, 1-dimensional characters. So many YA books have characters who, if you had to check a box on a form for them, would easily fall into one category or another, i.e. Geek, Mean Girl, Nice Girl, Good Boy, Bad Boy, Untrustworthy Adult, etc. Neill's secondary cast is much more complex. There's a mean girl with smarts, who can be nice at times (though not always). There's a good guy on the team who doesn't always go with the flow, who doesn't always agree with the heroine, who isn't always there to save her--though when he is, swoon! I love it when you can't quite tell who's on which side, or guess exactly what they will do or say.

All in all it was a pleasant adventure novel, a little predictable in places but balanced out with a few surprises. I'll definitely read the next one, whenever that comes out! I hope it's soon.

Who should read this book: Safe for all ages. And like I said before, great Scooby-Gang vibe, so if you miss Buffy, Lily and Scout will ease the pain a bit.

Firespell is Chloe Neill's 4th novel. (This is the first in the Dark Elite series and the author's YA debut.)

Find the author at, on Twitter @chloeneill

This author is currently on tour! Find out more on her Events Page.

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