This book is set in a bleak future of permanent winter, the result of a volcanic explosion that has blocked out the sun. Society consists of the Chosen, and their slaves the Quelled who serve only to mine the Firestones that provide life-giving heat.
The central character is Elsha, a rebellious, independent-thinking 16 year-old girl who in her determination to change the status quo, has to overcome the prejudice, sexism and ingrained injustice that surrounds her.
This book was originally published in 1992 after the author was diagnosed with Repetitive Strain Injury and being told she would no longer be able to write. Elsha’s obstinacy and determination in her quest mirrors that of Sherryl Jordan’s to overcome her condition, emphasising the importance of self- belief and tenacity in times of adversity.
A minor criticism might be that although Elsha’s character fights to be accepted by her society as a capable, intelligent woman, her male allies are drawn to her through her sexual attraction. The feminist message might have benefited if she was not so alluring, but all in all it is a thought-provoking book with a strong role model for teenaged girls.
Title: The Winter of Fire
Author: Sherryl Jordan
Date of Pub: 1992 (2019)
Reviewer: Anabel McPhee, Librarian, The Catlins Area School, South Otago
How much are you recommending this book: Recommended
Age range: 13 plus
Opening line: Always at the heart of my life there has been fire.
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