Elsha is one of the Quelled: a branded people, doomed always to mine coal to warm the ruling class, the Chosen. But Elsha has strange visions that set her apart - and a strong spirit that condemns her to death. Her life is saved when she is called to be Handmaiden to the Firelord, the most powerful being on the planet. Elsha is the first of her kind ever to be so honored - and both the Chosen and her fellow Quelled are stunned. But her powers and visions grow ever stronger, even in the face of extreme prejudice. Yet Elsha must learn the hard way that you can't play with fire without getting burned.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Let me first say how much I love this book. I first read this book when I was in 8th grade. I read it so much that the cover and pages fell apart. Since then I still read this book over again, especially if there are major changes in my life. So because I love this book so much, let me tell you why.
This book is set in an earth that has lost the sun. It still exists, but because of pollution, and maybe even a natural disaster or two, the cloud cover prevents any sunlight from reaching the earth. This of course causes another ice age. In the process of this, the world divides into two groups: The Chosen and the Quelled. The Chosen are the highest of people, considered to be the Chosen of God. The Quelled are people marked with brands and forced to work in mines and to toil in other ways for the Chosen. In this dystopian society, one Quelled called Elsha is raised to a postion that no Quelled would have ever dreamed of: She became the Handmaiden to the Firelord.
I love this story because it tells a story of hopes and dreams, and of love. Elsha has dreams of a better life, a life where she can be free of the curse of being Quelled, of being able to be free. She dreams of how the earth might have been, what the world would be like with sunshine and green plants. It is a story of love between Elsha and the fire stones, Elsha and the Firelord, and Elsha and the men who become so important in her life.
Throughout this whole story, you can’t help but want it all to work out. I cheered her through her trials, and cried as she did through her losses. Even though I have never experienced what she has, I can’t help but feel a connection.
I think what made this book the best was that there was a semi-resolution. Everything wasn’t completely fixed, but it was on its way. There is no hope for a second book, there is no need. It ends with the hope of the unknown, just like with life.