Tuesday, April 2, 2013

REVIEW: The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman

The Fire Horse Girl The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Fire Horse captured my attention, and this come from a reader who doesn’t like to read historical. Unless it’s part fantasy or mm-romance, neither of which this book was, I pass. What persuaded me was the plot of an Asian-American immigrant’s experience, which immediately made me think of myself. Very rarely do I encounter a book with that sort of thing.

+ the heroine and a rant

The writing was accessible, and thus great. Still, the beginning was like a ride on a country road. The blurb advertised a feisty heroine, and I love feisty heroine, but Jade Moon’s kind of feistiness exasperated me. I pretty much agree, especially with Sterling Promise, with all the bad things the other characters said about her. There’s outspoken and then there’s saying everything that come across your mind; Jade Moon did the latter. She’s rude, wild, quick to be mad and pick a fight. She’s not a mean person but she’s just thoughtless and inconsiderate, completely egocentric. I can go on....and I’m going to.

The Fire Horse “curse” was a self-fulling prophecy. Worse, it was a frequently used excuse every time Jade Moon committed a social blunder. She didn’t do anything to improve herself or her situation. All she did was whine about her curse as a Fire Horse girl, her lack of freedom, her personality flaws, etc. Keep in mind, this book was told in 1st person POV exclusively from her side so I’m supposed to pity her at least. I didn’t.

I didn’t warm up to the heroine till about a third of the book, and even then it was a simmering kind of warm.

As I read about her journey to and in America, I piled naivety onto the list of things I didn’t like about the heroine. The naivety was the kind that shows how sheltered and spoiled Jade Moon was, how limited her thinking and worldview was. The characters were accurate in their assessment of the heroine; she was dangerous.

What mitigated my irritation with Jade Moon was when she joined a gang in the middle of the book. Apparently, she was more suited to a life of thug-hood. LOL. If she was born a boy and in a rough and tough environment, she would have excelled.

+ the love interest and the romance

While there was a romance plot line, it was in the form of heroine wishing for love, trying to avoid arranged marriage, girl talk about marriageability, and so on. Jade Moon may have been thug-like, but she was also a hopeless romantic.

The romance was an important part, but it didn’t dominate the plot like so many YA to the extent that the book would be better classified as a YA Romance. In fact, for a large portion of the book, I didn’t think Sterling Promise was a love interest despite what the blurb said. Even when the book revealed the reason for why Jade Moon was allowed to go to America with Sterling Promise, I still didn’t think so.

There was no insta-love whatsoever. Sterling Promise and Jade Moon loathed each other. He thought she was a burden, she thought he was a prat. It took them a long time to warm up to each other, a near-the-end long time. It may have been slow, but it was believable and refreshing.

I liked Sterling Promise. He was smooth talker who didn’t let his “curse” get to him. I admired his ambition and sensibility. I liked him more than Jade Moon. At one point, specifically when they were on the boat to America, I wanted to read his side of the story instead of enduring hers. Yes, I can see how they would be a good match.

+ the plot

The book was heroine-driven. Jade Moon may have exasperated me, but I have to admit she was sure as hell not boring. With a dangerous heroine like Jade Moon, I couldn’t believe how fast I was reading the book, no skimming involved. The plot had emotions, actions, and twists, especially the twists. Usually, the twists happens to the character, but in this book, most of the twists were of her own making.

Everything about the book, from the culture to the history felt authentic. The book contained themes — belonging, freedom, love, etc. The plot didn’t shy away from the dark parts of history; there were suicides, racism, prostitution, gangsters, etc. I especially like that the mood remained bright despite the dark and depressing things.

My favorite scene was when Jade Moon revealed to Neil, her fighting teacher, who she was in chapter 28. However, the best part of the book overall was at the end when Jade Moon chose to help quash the sex trafficking. She was brave and smart. Finally, those awful traits of hers were polished to greatness. I was on the edge of my seat as I read how she finally put those lessons learned from mistakes (there were a lot) and her character growth (better late than never) into action.

In Conclusion

I rate The Fire Horse 3-stars for I liked it. The ending was nice, but it would have been nicer if it was a little longer, i.e. an epilogue, because I wasn’t ready for the story to end. If you’re in the mood for something entertaining and easy to read but still substantial and unafraid to have dark subjects *and* willing to put up with a flawed protagonist, I recommend The Fire Horse.

Goodreads | Amazon

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