Firebrand by A.J. Hartley

Firebrand

Once a steeplejack, Anglet Sutonga is used to scaling the heights of Bar-Selehm. Nowadays she assists politician Josiah Willinghouse behind the scenes of Parliament. When government plans for a secret weapon are stolen, their investigation leads right to the doorsteps of the city’s superexclusive social club, Elitus. Ang has a chance to catch the thief, but only if she can...

Title:Firebrand
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0765388138
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:336 pages

Firebrand Reviews

  • Shelley
    Jun 21, 2017

    *Source* Library

    *Genre* Young Adult, Steampunk

    *Rating* 3.5-4

    *MY Thoughts*

    Firebrand is the second installment in author A.J. Hartley's Alternative Detective series. This is a world that I have best described as being an alternative reality of 19th century South Africa. In this world, Bar-Selehm is home to 17-year old Protagonist Anglet Sutonga. Ang is a former Steeplejack, a Lani who has seen the worst sort of discrimination because of her skin color, and now works as a undercover detective for J

    *Source* Library

    *Genre* Young Adult, Steampunk

    *Rating* 3.5-4

    *MY Thoughts*

    Firebrand is the second installment in author A.J. Hartley's Alternative Detective series. This is a world that I have best described as being an alternative reality of 19th century South Africa. In this world, Bar-Selehm is home to 17-year old Protagonist Anglet Sutonga. Ang is a former Steeplejack, a Lani who has seen the worst sort of discrimination because of her skin color, and now works as a undercover detective for Josiah Willinghouse, a junior member of Parliament. The story really does start out in a action packed manner, and ends in a stunning manner. 

    *Full Review @ Gizmos Reviews*

  • Kristy
    Feb 06, 2017

    This exciting sequel reads like a murder mystery but is much more a dynamic social commentary that is as timely as it is compelling. The book is expertly written, never preaching or pointing fingers, but subtly applying pressure to examine race issues, gender inequalities, microaggressions, and socio-economic problems in our culture. The pace is unrelenting, hurtling the reader through one nail-biting scene after another, connecting the seemingly unrelated series of events into a satisfying conc

    This exciting sequel reads like a murder mystery but is much more a dynamic social commentary that is as timely as it is compelling. The book is expertly written, never preaching or pointing fingers, but subtly applying pressure to examine race issues, gender inequalities, microaggressions, and socio-economic problems in our culture. The pace is unrelenting, hurtling the reader through one nail-biting scene after another, connecting the seemingly unrelated series of events into a satisfying conclusion. Teens will see themselves in the tough, realistic, and fierce yet vulnerable protagonist. The multicultural world-building will draw in readers of many ages and backgrounds, while the well-crafted mystery and action will keep them wanting more books in the series. The multiple mysteries are ultimately solved and the ending is very satisfying, answering all questions posed and setting up future installments. Overall, this is a delightful follow-up to the explosive first novel from an established author who clearly knows his craft.

  • Amy
    Apr 12, 2017

    Dear Mr Hartley,

    Please accept my humble apology. I am unable at this time to write a review of Firebrand, for reasons which are far too mundane to go into here (i.e. life gets complicated sometimes). I really wanted to have written a stellar one, since, in all likelihood, I'll be meeting you at JordanCon next week. (In theory I'd be the one wearing the sign that says "Sorry I didn't get to review your book before meeting you" -- though more likely I'll just be wearing a sheepish grin on my face.

    Dear Mr Hartley,

    Please accept my humble apology. I am unable at this time to write a review of Firebrand, for reasons which are far too mundane to go into here (i.e. life gets complicated sometimes). I really wanted to have written a stellar one, since, in all likelihood, I'll be meeting you at JordanCon next week. (In theory I'd be the one wearing the sign that says "Sorry I didn't get to review your book before meeting you" -- though more likely I'll just be wearing a sheepish grin on my face.)

    However, thank you for giving me the opportunity to grow out my nails, as I seemed to have bitten them down. In Ang, you have created a great character, and keep unfolding a world that fascinates me. My unease with some of the political situations were because they rang a little truer than they might have when you were penning the story, but please don't mistake unease for complacency. Ang isn't the only female who can do some shit-kicking. Some of us have to do it land based or behind a computer, rather than from a rooftop or crane. And I know a cos-player or two who could use Madam Nahreem's guidance to help pull off a role realistically.

    As to the question raised at the end of the book, unless Willinghouse really steps up his game, I hope it's Daria over her stuffed-shirt brother. I suspect life would be a lot more colorful, exciting, and passionate with that choice.

    Many thanks to friends at Tor Books for sending me this ARC. My only complaint is that now I have to wait extra long for the next Alternative Detective book to make it into my hands.

  • Jessica Strider
    Jun 06, 2017

    Pros: excellent world-building, interconnected plot, great characters

    Cons:

    Grappoli is invading more native territory, sending refugees fleeing to the city of their enemy, Bar-Selehm. But Bar-Selehm’s politicians aren’t sympathetic to the refugees’ plight, and some believe the time to unite with their white brothers of Grappoli, at the expense of the black and brown lower classes of their own city, has arrived. When important military papers are stolen, a clue sends Anglet Sutonga to an exclusiv

    Pros: excellent world-building, interconnected plot, great characters

    Cons:

    Grappoli is invading more native territory, sending refugees fleeing to the city of their enemy, Bar-Selehm. But Bar-Selehm’s politicians aren’t sympathetic to the refugees’ plight, and some believe the time to unite with their white brothers of Grappoli, at the expense of the black and brown lower classes of their own city, has arrived. When important military papers are stolen, a clue sends Anglet Sutonga to an exclusive club, where she investigates the connections of its members.

    This is the second book set in this faux 19th Century South Africa. While you can read this without having read Steeplejack, characters are reintroduced without preamble, so you may find yourself confused by some of the relationships. The plot is self-contained and while the politics carry on from the previous book, it’s easy to figure out what’s happening in that respect. Some of the world-building assumes you’ve read Steeplejack, so there’s little explanation of the Drowning and the racial divisions of the city, though those come up a lot in the story.

    The world-building on the whole is excellent. Again, there’s very little of the book happening outside the city, but the city itself affords lots of conflict. I’m impressed by how detailed and realistic the interconnectedness of everything is in the book.

    I really like Anglet. She’s young, passionate, and tries to do the right thing, even when knowing what the right thing to do is difficult. And with the racial and political tensions running through this book, she’s often left unsure of why she feels like she does and whether her work for Willinghouse is achieving any good. I especially liked her confusion over how to best help the refugees, and why she felt a connection to their sorrows despite their differing circumstances.

    I appreciated the introduction of a deaf character and the chance to see more of Bar-Selehm’s society (high and otherwise). I liked the fact that characters had differing opinions on the political situation of the city.

    Unfortunately I read the book in a disjointed manner, which made it hard for me to recollect who some of the players were. There are certain scenes that require a careful reading, as the cast is fairly large and some seemingly minor details become important later on.

    The plot went in several disjointed directions as Anglet slowly figured out what was going on, pulling together for the climax.

    I really enjoyed this book, and its discussion of racism, refugees, and colonialism is topical.

  • H.
    Jun 06, 2017

    I was all kinds of impressed by Hartley’s Steeplejack. Firebrand improves on it. Hartley is more confident in his story, his setting, and his characters, and it shows. Ang Sutonga is back as a private detective/secret agent for parliamentary backbencher Josiah Willinghouse, and she has a new mystery to solve. Ang may no longer repair chimneys and clocktowers as a steeplejack, but rest assured that much of the action takes place above street level. And Hartley continues to handle hot button issue

    I was all kinds of impressed by Hartley’s Steeplejack. Firebrand improves on it. Hartley is more confident in his story, his setting, and his characters, and it shows. Ang Sutonga is back as a private detective/secret agent for parliamentary backbencher Josiah Willinghouse, and she has a new mystery to solve. Ang may no longer repair chimneys and clocktowers as a steeplejack, but rest assured that much of the action takes place above street level. And Hartley continues to handle hot button issues with far more nuance and understanding than his peers.

    I complained that Steeplejack didn’t have quite enough high flying action, starring a steeplejack and all. Evidently Hartley read my complaint and rewrote Firebrand accordingly, while it was sitting on my desk. That’s dedication to the craft, friends. Firebrand opens with Ang chasing a gentleman thief across the rooftops of Bar-Selehm. Not content with breaking into brownstones to stare at noblewomen while they sleep (and, uh, steal their jewels), the cat burglar has stolen plans from the War Office. The chase ends with a showdown at the end of the arm of a construction crane hanging over the river and, yeah, this book is gonna be good.

    The stolen plans were for a new and improved machine gun design. Ang has to get to the bottom of their theft with national security at stake. This will involve a lot of burglarizing of the homes and factories of Bar-Selehm’s leading industrials and politicians. Ang must also enlist the help of Willinghouse’s Lani grandmother, Nahreem, to train her for an infiltration of Bar-Selehm’s most elite and exclusive club (through the front door). And all this while Bar-Selehm is—again—boiling, this time from fighting elsewhere on the continent, an influx of refugees into the city, and the rise of a white supremacist party in Parliament.

    It wasn’t entirely clear (at least to me) that Bar-Selehm was a quarter-turn version of South Africa until the afterword of Steeplejack. Firebrand makes Bar-Selehm’s place in the larger continent much more obvious. The continent is in turmoil, with Bar-Selehm’s rival the Grappoli fighting tribal insurgencies in the north. Which among other things is creating a refugee crisis in Bar-Selehm. I groaned inwardly when the refugees appeared. That, of all things, I didn’t trust a writer to handle well. But Hartley is no hack.

    Firebrand tells a standalone mystery story, but it continues Ang’s story from Steeplejack. It does both very well. Ang remains a highlight, and, as I said, I’m very glad Hartley gave her even more chances to climb. The mystery is again complex and interesting. Ang’s enemies are deadly. Hartley handles the issues raised adroitly, and the “Heritage” party is even more chilling given where we know the history of the real South Africa went (I would say they are too over the top racist, but, well, South Africa). The characters from Steeplejack are all back, and Willinghouse’s sister Dahria continues to steal every scene she is in. The books ends with a satisfying conclusion to the mystery at its core but also with a hint about Ang that has me desperate to get my dirty mitts on the third book. Hartley continues to write prose that is at the same time plain and beautiful.

    Firebrand also remains superversive. There is a point well into the book where Ang questions why she cares so much about getting to the bottom of things. It isn’t her salary from Willinghouse. It isn’t driven by the death of someone she knew and from her corner of society, as in Steeplejack. The answer Ang eventually comes to amounts to something along the lines of Truth, Justice, and the Bar-Selehm Way. Ang cares because it is the right thing to do. Back in the day we used to call people like her heroes. (I’m told there is a movie featuring a female hero doing moderately well at the moment. Perhaps Hollywood should give Hartley a call.)

    Bravo!

    Disclosure: I received a review copy of Firebrand from the publisher.

  • Austine (NovelKnight)
    Jun 19, 2017

    I expected a great deal from 

    after Hartley delivered a intricately woven story in 

    and I'm happy to report that the sequel lived up to those expectations. The story picks up soon after the events of book 1 with Ang working for the politician Willinghouse as a private detective of sorts, and she's about to have her work cut out for her.

    On its own, 

    was almost a standalone in nature. There are some events which connect the two stories but if you were to read it with

    I expected a great deal from 

    after Hartley delivered a intricately woven story in 

    and I'm happy to report that the sequel lived up to those expectations. The story picks up soon after the events of book 1 with Ang working for the politician Willinghouse as a private detective of sorts, and she's about to have her work cut out for her.

    On its own, 

    was almost a standalone in nature. There are some events which connect the two stories but if you were to read it without having read 

    , you'd probably be okay (not that I recommend that course of action, but if it were to happen). It continues the expansion and development of a colonial world full of inequalities and political maneuvering, where racism abounds in all things, where the world is 

    one you might want to live in because it 

    an escape from reality.

    Bar-Selehm is fictional, yes, but the struggles these characters go through are very real, in our own history and even now. It gives 

    (and 

    ) almost a historical feel.

    And Ang is a perfect person to share this world with. She's still young but has experienced the hardships of the city as one of its Lani residents, shunned for their darker skin by the colonial whites. This plays a large part in how she goes about her investigation and, in the process, comes to terms with 

    uncovering the city's secrets is so important to her. I would have liked a bit more depth with her character, more growth, as in both books she seems to focus in on one aspect of her life and 

    develops but the rest of her as a person remains fairly stagnant. The book centers around the world with Ang a player in its midst.

    One thing I found... not odd, exactly, but it stood out, was the whole idea of romance in Ang's world. There's a hint of affection between her and a character from a previous book, and the ending of 

    hints once more at a 

    potential romance if the books are continued. But in all of those cases, Hartley makes it VERY clear that romance is not in the books for Ang. Which, hey, totally fine, these books don't need it. HOWEVER, the way it's handled is as if it's this terribly bad thing which I found a bit unrealistic. It's a small thing but caught my eye.

    At the end of 

    , I was so busy putting together the puzzle pieces sprinkled throughout the story that I didn't really get sucked into the action of the final scenes. This book isn't heavy on action in the adventuring or explosion sense. Everything is behind the scenes, subtle, which I think takes skill as a writer to accomplish without giving the whole plot away. And I'll say this: I didn't guess the ending. Some elements, yes, but most was a surprise and that's rare for me with young adult fiction.

    Speaking of, I'm not sure I would necessarily classify this as young adult. It's marketed from a teen imprint and features a younger protagonist but it reads much heavier, more what I would expect from adult fantasy. Plenty of genre cross-over opportunity there!

    So yes, I enjoyed it quite a bit. 

    recommend checking out 

    if you haven't already before grabbing a copy of 

    . An excellent mix of mystery, political intrigue, masterful world-building, and a touch of fantasy.

  • Van (Short & Sweet Reviews)
    Jun 11, 2017

    Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher exchange for a honest review.

    I haven’t read the first book in the Alternative Detective series, but I had no problems following the story in Firebrand. In this follow-up to Steeplejack, we find Anglet, a former Steeplejack working as a private detective/spy for parliament member, Willinghouse. After blueprints for a machine gun gets stolen and a wave of refugees goes missing; Angl is sent into the inner sanctum of the elite society to find

    Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher exchange for a honest review.

    I haven’t read the first book in the Alternative Detective series, but I had no problems following the story in Firebrand. In this follow-up to Steeplejack, we find Anglet, a former Steeplejack working as a private detective/spy for parliament member, Willinghouse. After blueprints for a machine gun gets stolen and a wave of refugees goes missing; Angl is sent into the inner sanctum of the elite society to find out who is behind it all and what she discovers is more alarming than she can ever imagine.

    Firebrand takes place in an alternative South Africa and I found everything from the setting to the characters refreshing. I don’t remember ever reading a novel taking place in Africa/Alt-Africa or one featuring such a vast cast of intriguing, complex, and incredible women. Ang, is our main heroine and we are treated to her first-person POV and within the first page I knew I was going to like her and the story. Ang has many admirable qualities, everything you’d want in a heroine. My favorites scenes were of Ang and Madame Nahreem’s training, teaching Ang the proper etiquette of a lady and how to become someone else/neutrality. I also thought the supporting cast was amazing, and one of the characters that rivaled Ang was Willinghouse’s and one of the lady’s society member, Dahria. Dahria was a hoot! She puts on this indifference front, acting as if she’s above Ang (most of the time) but the two are more alike than they wish to admit. And under all that sarcasm (which I found hilarious) she was a little ol’ softie.

    Hartley weaved an enthralling story full of multiple threads that converged for a satisfying conclusion. I appreciated and love the way that Hartley incorporated serious issues of race, social class, economic, and politics into the story without it overshadowing the story and characters itself. It was subtle and brought another dimension to the plot. The mystery had me intrigued, the action had me at the edge of my seat, and the wonderful characters had me smiling and laughing throughout the book. I loved Firebrand and can’t wait to see what Hartley has in store for Ang and company next. Firebrand is such an underrated, gem of a novel and definitely doesn’t get the notice it deserved. I highly, highly recommend Firebrand, if you’re looking for a book that has it all, then look no further! It’s here, it’s Firebrand.


Free Best Books is in no way intended to support illegal activity. We uses Search API to find the overview of books over the internet, but we don't host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners, please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them. Read our DMCA Policies and Disclaimer for more details.