Book Review: The Fire Star by A.L. Tait

“But you are not witches?”

“No. Not unless witches are just women who choose to ask questions.”

(The Fire Star by A.L. Tait)

Maven, a lady’s maid, and Reeve, a knight’s squire, are thrown together by the theft of a priceless jewel. The unlikely duo has only three days to find the gem or both their futures will fall apart.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Fire Star! As my frequent readers know, I am a HUGE fan of mysteries, and I especially love a well-plotted YA mystery. And when the YA mystery comes from one of my favorite authors—it’s a major win-win for me!

So let’s talk about A.L. Tait’s young adult novel, The Fire Star. Here’s a quick break-down: 

  • YA with two main characters, ages 15 and 16
  • Told in dual POV (which I loved!)
  • Medieval fantasy world setting 
  • Mystery that includes a stolen gem and a murder
  • Intricate plot with intrigue and danger
  • Themes relevant to today including the status of women

It’s wonderful to escape into a far-away world and mingle with characters that are smart, articulate, compassionate, and relatable. A. L. Tait draws colorful and complex characters and then sets them in a richly drawn world—a kingdom in turmoil where the fight for what is right can take an individual to the brink of life or death.  

Maven is clever and capable with quick wit and strong drive. Unfortunately, in her world, a woman of intellect is simply not allowed. Women aren’t supposed to read, write, or think for themselves. Taught by her father, whose reputation and wealth has now depleted due to drink, Maven has lost her status and is now a lady’s maid and companion to Cassandra who is engaged to Sir Garrick, Knight Protector of Rennart Castle. 

Reeve is a new squire to Sir Garrick and desperate to prove himself worthy. Reeve is smart and capable, especially at reading people. But he simply wants to do his job and stay out of trouble as he fears failure will send him across the sea to a life of misery, or worse—death.

When Maven and Reeve meet, possibly one of my favorite meet-ups that I’ve read (it involves some goats), neither anticipate how important they will be to each other in the near future. It’s fun to watch their friendship develop across the pages as they learn to trust each other, working together to find the missing gem and discover who killed an innocent man. I found it refreshing to read a YA mystery that focused on friendship versus romance with the two main characters. The mystery was engaging, plotting tight, and the pacing perfect for the story. 

I can’t write this review without mentioning the Beech Circle, a group of girls and women who are connected. They help each other and those who need help. They are educated, self-reliant, and they’d be eliminated if their existence was discovered by the men who desire to keep all women complacent and silent. Without the Beech Circle, Maven and Reeve may never be able to solve the mystery and save multiple lives.  

The Fire Star is the first book in the Maven and Reeve mysteries and I most definitely recommend it to readers who enjoy strong female characters, friendships built on trust and respect, and intrigue amid a medieval setting. The second book is The Wolf’s Howl and I’ll be posting a review of that soon, so keep an eye out. 

I have been following Allison Tait (A.L. Tait) for more than a decade, having found her website online and was immediately drawn in by her writing style, humor, and kindness. I have been a fan of her books since I first read Race to the End of the World (Mapmaker Chronicles, book one). You can read my reviews of her other books, The Mapmaker Chronicles and the Ateban Cipher books. I highly recommend those as well. 

You can find more information about author A.L. Tait at her website. Allison is an internationally-published, bestselling author of two middle-grade adventure series and the YA Maven & Reeve mysteries. She’s a writer, teacher, speaker, and co-host of the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast. Allison lives in Australia and can be found on social media via links from her site.

Many thanks to Kane Miller EDC Publishing and Allison Tait for sending me copies of The Fire Star and The Wolf’s Howl. This review reflects my own opinions and thoughts.

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