“My thoughts bleed with the reminder that I’m dancing with demons, flirting with the monsters.”
Rating: 4/5 stars
Format: Physical copy
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Thank you Tor Teen for providing me with a finished copy in exchange for a honest review!
10 Years. 3 Gangs. 1 Girl’s Epic Quest…
Valerie Simons knows the city’s gang wars are dangerous—her own brother was killed by the Boars two years ago. But nothing will sway her from joining the elite and beautiful Herons to avenge his death—a death she feels responsible for.
But when Valerie is recruited by the mysterious Stags, their charismatic and volatile leader Jax promises to help her get revenge. Torn between old love and new loyalty, Valerie fights to stay alive as she races across the streets of San Francisco to finish the mission that got her into the gangs.
WOW! I totally devoured this book. A Thousand Fires completely blew my expectations out of the water and I’m so happy I received a copy of this book otherwise I may have not even known it was releasing. Why is there not more hype around this?! This book is pitched as The Outsiders meets The Iliad so you can do with that knowledge what you will, but I was more invested in this because it reminded me of something that I love dearly and that’s the TV show Sons of Anarchy. I swear it’s not because both gang leaders are named Jax, and this is definitely the muuuuuch tamer version of the show (watch at your own risk 🙃) but this book was still so good and gave me all the SoA vibes.
Valerie, has spent everyday since her little brother was killed by a gang called the Boars plotting her revenge. The day she turns eighteen she’s hoping to get selected by the Boars rival gang, the Herons, and will one day avenge her brothers death. Val and her ex-boyfriend, Matthew, quickly rekindle their romance in the beginning of this book which definitely adds a lot of complexity to the story later on that I was LIVING for. But when Val doesn’t get recruited by the Herons (Matthew does) and instead is recruited to a third gang called the Stags with a leader who promises to help her avenge her bothers death, Val knows she has no choice to but leave everyone and everything behind. And thus, begins our story of love, lies, grief, deception, found families, new and old love, testing loyalties, and the truth surrounding her brother’s death.
Val’s story isn’t a pretty one as she tries to navigate her new life within a gang. She often finds herself questioning the gangs intentions, where her loyalty lies, and maybe even fighting some attraction to her new leader Jax, all the way fighting her love for her ex-boyfriend, Matthew. Not going to lie I definitely got some Romeo and Juliet vibes from this one too. Another reason I loved this one was because of the side characters that Val meets throughout her time as a Stag. Dare I say I loved this gang? Because I really did. I also enjoyed that Jax was trying to do good throughout this story even though he was definitely in over his head. He didn’t always make the best decisions on how to deal with the Wars between the gangs, but his intention was to always make the outcome better for the greater good, much like Jax Teller, if I may add.
The one reason I didn’t give this one 4.5/5 stars is because I wish the ending wasn’t as rushed. The big climactic scene between all three gangs was SO GOOD and I didn’t want it to end. There was definitely a lot of buildup over the first 280 pages to the final scene and the 20-ish pages just wasn’t enough in my opinion. Although, I will add in that I did enjoy the way the story ended with a sense of open-endedness. Some people hate endings like that but personally when we’re dealing with books centered on heavy topics I think it works so much better for a story. All in all, this was a fantastic debut from Shannon Price and I will definitely be picking up more of her books in the future!
tw: death of a child, self-harm, anxiety, violence, murder, grief, underage drinking, depression, gun violence
Until next time,