Coming full circle – Michelle Zink’s Circle of Fire reviewed

I’ve just finished The Circle of Fire, the last novel in Michelle Zink‘s Prophecy of the Sisters series. I’ve written about the series before (review of first book and an interview with the author) but I wanted to hold off until I’d read the final book.

Thoughout the series, Zink has posed several questions regarding girls, feminism and making choices which is what captured me initially. That and the superb writing.

Amalia (Lia) and Alice are gathering themselves for the great battle, perhaps finding that they need to set certain affairs in order. With the thinned world, Lia travels to Ireland to find the final pieces and meanings of the prophecy found in Chartres and begins losing the trust of those around her and herself.

Her relation to Dimitri gets closer and avoids the twee panderings around the issue that seems to infest young adult writing at the moment. Whilst avoiding the physical act, Zink fleshes out the relationship and deals with some of the issues without being coy about it and trying to avoid the difficulties. Yet Zink does not ignore the initial relationship with James which Lia ran away from when she left for her travels in the first book and acknowledges the emotions that are there in a way which suggests that Lia has grown up in her travels, as one would hope that she does.

Given this, I am slightly surprised that Alice does not getĀ  a little more coverage. It would be easy to consider the relationship as something along the lines of Buffy and Faith, but the author begins to bring her out as a character. The gothic allows the author to explore the relationship and to pull out the almost empty need for each other that they have. Both need the relationship to cope with their parent’s deaths and the stress of the prophecy. She appears to get into the raw jealousy which festers from Alice’s side and the perception of Lia’s relationship with their father. She moves from being somebody who merely makes the choice to spite her sister to being somebody who reacted badly and compounded some bad choices. Yet Lia also makes mistakes and bad choices when dealing with the people around her.

Drawing from the notion of writing from the perspective of the ‘evil’ person, the series makes the reader consider the notion of choice and how it affects lives. It is easy to forget that Lia could make the wrong decision and to allow Samael through, or perhaps wallow in her own demons and give in if we follow the notion of the fantastic as discussing the internal.

I’ve loved this series and noteĀ  that Amazon lists A Temptation of Angels to be published next year. She has thought about the books from her protagonist’s perspective rather than using them for her own perspective. I’m glad that I waited and read the final two books together.

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