The Picky Bookworm

"Books are a uniquely portable magic." –Stephen King

From Fire and Shadows shaped up to be one of my favorite Netgalley reads of 2020. I was impressed with the characterization, the world building, and the mythology of magic. It all added up to a wonderful story that I will think about for years to come.

Yes, it’s part of a series.

No, I can’t wait for the next book to come out.

Please, keep reading, so you can fall in love with this book like I have.

The Story

From Fire and Shadows is written from two perspectives

First, we meet Thea

Theodora, also called Thea, has lived in a house for people born without magic for all of her 6 years. She doesn’t remember her family before, and has only one friend, Circe. I loved the reference here to a woman from Greek Mythology who was a sorceress who Odysseus lived with for a year. So the magic has tons of levels, which I loved.

Thea, at only 6 years old, manages to access a level of magic that no one has seen in centuries. Unfortunately, this discovery comes with a price. Not knowing she has such magic available to her, Thea follows a song in her head to the forest, which she manages to burn down, along with the House she has shared with almost two dozen other people. All but 3 people perish.

Then, we meet Kai

Thea’s travels from here become even more exciting, so I will stop here and start telling you about Kai.

Kai is the other point of view in From Fire and Shadows. He has the not-small ability to command dead souls. He can also travel the Linne Anam, a place between this world and the next, through shadows. He has never wanted to rule in his world, but circumstances beyond his control are forcing him into a position of leadership; one he may or may not regret as the story moves forward.

The Characters of From Fire and Shadows

The characters in this book are written so perfectly that it’s hard not to connect with any of them. When I looked up the author, J.F. Baptista, I understood why. She is actually a clinical psychologist, so literally has studied the human condition thoroughly. I believe this is one reason why Thea and Kai’s motives are so well-written, and their characters so well-developed.


The timeline of this book is written over the course of about 11 years, so the reader gets to watch Thea grow up. Even though she seems fairly mature in the beginning, her maturity and knowledge of herself grows as the story progresses. I loved reading about her changes, and struggles, and triumphs. This book was so hard to put down, because I just had to find out what happened with these characters next.


One of my favorite characters, that isn’t in the book much, is Gunnar. Gunnar takes Thea under his wing after she burned down the forest at 6, and takes her home to live with him. He raises her and teaches her to control some of her power. Thea refers to him as “a giant,” which could mean a literal giant, or just a very tall man, since she is only 6 years old when she meets him. I love Gunnar because he is always so gentle with Thea, even when she frustrates and irritates him. Thea can tell when she gets to him, but the relationship between them is such that she is never afraid of him.


Kai, despite being one of the pivotal characters in the book, is not one of my favorites. He starts out kind of whiny. Even though he’s one of the most powerful people in the world, with abilities even he hasn’t found out about yet, he refuses the post of leadership that could save his world from war. He does grow as the story moves, but I never really grow to like him. I do grow to respect him, but never really like him. Maybe in the next book he’ll be more likable.

The World of From Fire & Shadows

Oh, my gosh, this world, you guys! So well-done! Each lineage of magic users has its own part of this world, where people live and work together, sort of in harmony. But as time has gone on, the magic of the world has dwindled, so that even the most powerful of people can’t hold a candle to what came before. Each lineage has access to the main city, through doorways that basically fold space. This part is SO cool! Thea also has a map that she can use to travel anywhere in the world she wants, as long as she’s touching it. That part is the coolest to me, because I want a map of our world that does the same thing. To be able to hold something in my hand, take a step forward, and be anywhere in the world? That would be awesome!

My Final Thoughts

Drop everything, right now, and rush to Amazon (or wherever you can find this book) and buy it right away! You’ll want to catch up for when the next book comes out! I can’t recommend this book enough! It was so well-written, the characters so well-done, that this book is slated to be in my top-ten books of the YEAR. Considering how many awesome books I’ve read this year, that’s REALLY saying something!

Thank you to Netgalley for a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. I couldn’t have done it without you!

So, have you bought the book yet? Let me know what you think! 

Haven’t bought it yet? What are you waiting for? Hop to it!

If you loved my review, and love my website, I would love a donation on my front page Here, and I’d love to connect on Social Media! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Mix! Hope to see you there!

Until next time, Bookworms!

Please check out these other reviews

From Fire and Shadows Link to The Echo Wife Sarah Gailey    From Fire and Shadows link to Book Review Oil & Water    From Fire and Shadows link to Book Review Shadowless

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