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A Thousand Fires    by Shannon Price order for
Thousand Fires
by Shannon Price
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2019 (2019)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Though Shannon Price's A Thousand Fires is billed as an Iliad re-telling, the connection is not a strong one. The story is set in a San Francisco that has come to an uneasy acceptance of teen gangs - the elite Herons, the lower class Boars and the Stags (a small latecomer gang) - that fight Red Bridge Wars.

It's Valerie's eighteenth birthday, the age when gangs recruit a teen for one year. Valerie expects the Herons to approach her and is ready to join. The Boars killed her beloved brother Leo. Valerie blames herself and is intent on vengeance, despite the pleas of her parents to stay at home with them. Valerie's boyfriend Matthew comes from a Heron family, and she expects to fight the Boars alongside him.

Val's shocked when the Stags recruit her instead, but accepts after their leader, Jax, tells her he knows who killed Leo and will share that information with her in time. Jax calls her Valentine. Slowly and steadily, Val is pulled further into violence and grows closer to her fellow Stags. She finds ways to meet Matthew occasionally but also begins to wonder how much she can trust him, now that they're on opposite sides.

There's betrayal and tragedy, as well as a growing attraction between Val and Jax, whose goal is to end the Wars. Matthew, who also hopes to end them, keeps trying to persuade Val to leave the Stags, but to no avail. She does eventually win her vengeance but at a very high cost. A Thousand Fires is a compelling tale.

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