The Fire Keeper by J.C. Cervantes: Review & My Sestina Poem About the Book!

October 30, 2019 Poetry, Reviews 10 ★★★★

The Fire Keeper by J.C. Cervantes: Review & My Sestina Poem About the Book!The Fire Keeper by J.C. Cervantes
Illustrator: Irvin Rodriguez
Series: The Storm Runner #2
Also in this series: The Storm Runner
Published by Disney-Hyperion, Rick Riordan Presents on September 3, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Pages: 432
Source: Library
My content rating: MG (Some Violence, Hints of Romance)
My rating:
4 Stars

Zane Obispo's new life on a beautiful secluded tropical island, complete with his family and closest friends, should be perfect. But he can't control his newfound fire skills yet (inherited from his father, the Maya god Hurakan); there's a painful rift between him and his dog ever since she became a hell hound; and he doesn't know what to do with his feelings for Brooks. One day he discovers that by writing the book about his misadventures with the Maya gods, he unintentionally put other godborn children at risk. Unless Zane can find the godborns before the gods do, they will be killed. To make matters worse, Zane learns that Hurakan is scheduled to be executed. Zane knows he must rescue him, no matter the cost. Can he accomplish both tasks without the gods detecting him, or will he end up a permanent resident of the underworld?

In this cleverly plotted sequel to The Storm Runner, the gang is back together again with spirited new characters, sneaky gods, unlikely alliances, and secrets darker than Zane could ever have imagined. Secrets that will change him forever.

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In this fun follow-up to The Storm Runner, Zane finds himself in a whole new predicament—not only does he have to save his father, he’s also got to save a whole host of godborns who he endangered in the first place! When Zane wrote the original book, he sent it out into the world as a call to the other godborns (only a godborn should have been able to read it—which I thought was a clever way to get the reader engaged with the story—as if they must, in fact, be godborn too if they were reading the book). Only it turns out that his battle cry backfired and revealed all the godborns to the gods, thus putting them in danger. Oops!

This book explores shifting relationships: from friends who might be more, to absentee parents who have the chance to become involved in their kids’ lives, to new friendships, to enemies who could possibly become allies (or, you know, not). There’s plenty of adventure as Zane’s quest keeps morphing into something more and more complicated.  And Zane experiences some forced personal growth as he deals with the guilt of putting a whole lot of people in danger (and has to decide who to focus on saving: the godborns or his dad). Shaky alliances are formed, and Zane’s never quite sure who to trust, which keeps the reader flipping the pages to discover who’s really on Zane’s side. And, of course, there’s the focus on Maya (and now Aztec) gods—I love the idea that kids will find themselves immersed in a mythology they might not have otherwise heard of.

The book sets us up beautifully for book three, which will set Zane against a new enemy. Now the wait begins…


I thought it might be fun to practice some formal poetry styles within my reviews. This seemed like a low-pressure way to try out a new style (I’m guessing my blog followers will be a lot less critical than editors of poetry journals) and something fun to add to the review!

This poetry style is called a sestina. Here’s the definition (taken from Poetry.com):

A complex French verse form, usually unrhymed, consisting of six stanzas of six lines each and a three-line envoy. The end words of the first stanza are repeated in a different order as end words in each of the subsequent five stanzas; the closing envoy contains all six words, two per line, placed in the middle and at the end of the three lines.

A sestina has no specific rhyme or meter, but what makes it complicated are the repeating end words that have to be used in a specific pattern:

1. ABCDEF
2. FAEBDC
3. CFDABE
4. ECBFAD
5. DEACFB
6. BDFECA
7. envoy – (F B) (A D) (E C)

With that in mind, here’s my very first attempt at a sestina, a little note to Zane:

Poor Zane…

Off again on a quest against the gods
with only waning magic and sputtering fire
at your disposal. And a ticking clock counting down the time
until all is lost, including your new godborn friend
(who was perfectly safe ’til you came along)
and your last, nearly untethered ties to your father.

The time is now if you want to save your father.
Thanks to you, he’s in some serious trouble with the gods.
Why on earth can’t they all just get along?
Oh, and you also just might want to fire
that other god you decided to befriend
before he decides to betray you one more time.

So you shouldn’t waste time
trying to figure out how to please your father
or if Brooks is more than just a friend
because you won’t stand a chance of defeating the gods
if you don’t learn how to control your fire—
But I suppose you knew that all along.

You realize you don’t have time for a long
pit stop in the underworld, but time
is more broken than you know, and you must stop fighting the fire.
See, when you wrote that book about your father
you revealed the godborns to the gods
putting them all in danger, friend.

And pretty soon you won’t have a friend
in the world, especially since you ditched Brooks, along
with Hondo. Guess you’d better hope the gods
are too busy to track you down this time.
Or maybe too busy planning to kill your father
whose life is tied to the source of godborn magic, an eternal fire.

And now it’s your job to restore that fire
and save absolutely everyone (both friend
and foe, and of course, your father).
from some even more dangerous gods who’ve come along,
gods who’ve been dead and gone for a very long time.
Remember, death is relative when it comes to the gods.

And even when you’ve saved your father and the fire
and befriended gods who swore they’d never be your friend
don’t expect the ordeal to be over… not for a long time.


Check out my blog tour post for a GIVEAWAY of this book (which ends on November 4th).

 

Have you read this book? What did you think? Think you might like to try your hand at a sestina? I want to know!

10 Responses to “The Fire Keeper by J.C. Cervantes: Review & My Sestina Poem About the Book!”

  1. Sam@wlabb

    I love that you wrote a poem for this review! I like the idea of this book, and I love that it incorporates lesser known mythology.

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