Title: GLOW OF THE FIREFLIES
Author: LINDSEY DUGA
Genre: YOUNG ADULT FANTASY
Publication Date: OCTOBER 1, 2019
ABOUT THE BOOK
Briony never planned to go back to the place she lost everything.
Firefly Valley, nestle deep within the Smoky Mountains, is better kept in her past. After an unexplained fire gave Briony amnesia, her mother disappeared and her dad moved them to Knoxville.
But now he grandmother needs a caretaker and Briony’s dad volunteers her to help. The moment she returns, her whole world shifts. She feels a magical connection to this valley, as if it’s literally part of her somehow. And when she meets a hot guy who claims he was her childhood friend but now mysteriously keep his distance, Briony starts piecing together her missing past…and discovers her mother didn’t leave to start a new life somewhere. She’s trapped in the hidden world within the valley.
Now, Briony will do whatever it takes to rescue her, even if it means standing up against dangerously powerful nature spirits. Even if it means giving up her first love.
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I don’t know how to say this, I was speechless after reading this book. It was a very phenomenal and brilliant story. This is like the best YA-Fantasy book I ever read so far for this year, the concept of the magic was brilliant, and the characters are very likable which makes this story more interesting. After I finished reading it, I needed to take a break for awhile because I really need all the time I can have to process the whole story. This isn’t the type of story that you can easily move on from, you can’t just jump to a new book after you read this one, it’s not that simple. The writing was breathtakingly beautiful and very clean, the story was smooth and the plot nearly break my brain. There are so many plot twist in the story, and I’m still in awed at how my brain and mind are still strong even after all those twists. It was totally unpredictable and there are some things that I didn’t see coming. Luckily I didn’t experience a breakdown at all. This is exactly the type of book that deserve a full five stars rating.
The concept that the author use for this story was very unique, and something new that I haven’t seen in other books before. It also gave me a bit of a magical realism feeling due to how the existence of the astral plane and the ethereal world are connected to the physical world (the human world). This concept reminds me a lot of the time that I believed astral plane and other realms do exist but just hidden from our world. I still believe that to this day because it is possible other realms do exist, and so does astral projecting yourself and traveling to the astral plane and other realms. I loved that the author chose this concept and make it into a story, it is something that I feel deeply connected to, like there is something inside of me that knows how it feels like to experience the things that Briony and Alder experienced in the story. It feels like reading a story with this kind of concept just feels like home (I know how weird this sound to most people, but that’s exactly how I felt).
I loved the whole explanation about the astral plane and the ethereal world, and the descriptions of it and how the spirits and humans can walk in and out of it. I also really dig the whole thing about the nature spirit/nature god, the gods of four elements, and the gates that connect the ethereal world to the human world, the whole thing was just amazing. And then there was a matter about the fireflies. I mean, the world-building was so brilliantly crafted and it wasn’t that hard to understand or imagined it. The magic system was truly beautiful, I loved that the magic in this story is called mana, which the concept of it is familiar in some cultures. I guess the author did her research on it and used the mana magic thing for her story which really impressed me.
The writing was beautiful and smooth, and it makes the story flow so well. Also, I really liked the pacing. This book doesn’t have any filler chapters at all, it just get straight to the point, no delays or anything, which make it very rare because most books that I read, it has lots of filler chapters. So the fast-pacing and no filler chapters are the things that I truly loved about this book, and it also made the story more interesting and more enjoyable. I truly enjoyed the ton of actions this book has, all of it are so fantastic and I was anxious mainly because I thought Briony and Alder won’t succeed in their mission. Their mission was tough and very challenging, so it requires a lot of physical and magical fighting. It was pretty marvelous seeing these two using their powers and their skills to fight against creatures that are bigger and stronger than them. I think many people would feel satisfied by the amount of epic actions in the story.
As for the ending, it doesn’t end in a cliffhanger because the whole story and that ending wrap things up properly. I’m not sure if there will be a continuation or not, judging by everything that happened, how it came to an end and that beautiful ending, it feels like this is a standalone. Everything has been solved and there are no potential new threats that I see or aware of. To me, the story is already perfect as it is. The ending was truly beautiful and sweet, it’s what I hoped for since the beginning. I loved how the author ended the story, it was a perfect ending for this book. It wasn’t rushed and it made a lot of sense.
As I said in the early paragraph, the characters are all likable. I’m just glad that there are no characters who likes to whine a lot or complaining about literally everything. It’s hard to find a book that features all likable characters like this one has. Briony’s grandmother is a calm old woman, I know how she felt when she lost her daughter (Briony’s mother), and now she was about to lose Briony too, what surprised me the most was her reaction to what Briony told her. She was just so calm and accepting all the informations, and doesn’t even freaked out. I thought she was gonna react badly to what Briony said, I’m happy that she doesn’t.
As for Izzie, she freaked out the most, but slowly accepting that her best friend’s life isn’t actually normal after all and that she just had to get used to it. She offered great advices sometimes, she’s young just like Briony, but she was also wise and truly cared for Briony’s life and also she is a great girl. Izzie is a true friend, one you can definitely trust and rely on. Briony’s mom doesn’t make much appearance, but I can tell that she is a great woman. What she did years ago was purely because she love Briony, her own daughter and just wanted her daughter to be safe.
Briony and Alder are the main protagonists of the story, they are the hero and heroine of this book. Briony just found out what happened to her in the past and she just want to find the missing pieces of her life. She had an amnesia and there was a deep part of her that wanted to find answers to everything that she doesn’t remember. Nobody can blame her for going back to the place that had become her nightmare. It was a brave decision but also what she was about to face is beyond her imagination. Getting to know Alder all over again helps bring back her old memories slowly, and it also slowly fill the hole inside of her.
She is a brave person and even though what she had to face in the story is new to her, she wasn’t afraid of it and she even get ready to face any tough challenges. I liked that she doesn’t complain for doing the dangerous missions but instead she was so determined to finish it due to her desperation of trying to get her mother back. Not only was she brave, but she was also a strong and tough heroine. She faced all the tough challenges without breaking a sweat. It took her awhile to embraced her magic and finally be able to use it. Briony is a great person, with or without magic, she is still the same her. She has a big and kind heart, and that is what makes her a great heroine. She is definitely my one of my top favorite YA heroines, there are not many YA heroines like her.
Alder is a great hero, the hero that we all deserved. He is calm, scared, protective, caring, and powerful. He is so different than most heroes in YA stories that I’ve known. He’s not a controlling guy, he’s not manipulating anyone, he’s not rude, and he’s not a brute for sure. He was so kind and so protective of Briony. His sweet words to her was very calming. He had a hard time talking to Briony at first, it has been 6 years since he last met her and they were childhood best friends once and now the girl he held dear came back with no memories of their past. I understood his struggles to protect her, but he never stop caring for her. He was scared for Briony’s life and even at times confused on how to help her finish the mission.
He was a very complex character, it wasn’t easy trying to understand him. He doesn’t want to share too much about who he is, which was surprising when it was revealed later on about his true nature. I didn’t expect the twist at all, but it all make sense. Alder just had a hard time trying to process everything I guess, but he has been helpful and always lead Briony’s back to him. I pity him actually, I was sad knowing he had no one in his life and that he only has Briony, the loneliness was too much that I want him to be happy. He is like a mysterious guy but a kind one.
The way I see it, this book doesn’t have a villain. Yes there was a thing that is bad but I don’t think it is evil, let alone being the antagonist of the story. It was said that the fire god is evil, but what I truly understand is it doesn’t. And then the sassy fox who loved making fun of the others and basically doesn’t want to take any crap from the others is a funny character. It can be very hilarious sometimes, despite its serious tone when speaking, its comment about the others are what makes it more funny. The fox was so sassy that I along with Briony and Alder was blinded by its hidden agenda. I didn’t see it as an evil being, even though the truth about the fox was surprising, I see it as a being who just want to protect its home since the beginning. I just didn’t see how either of these beings can be a villain, I came into a conclusion that this book doesn’t have a villain and I’m not even complaining. I was fine with it and this book can be the first book I read where it doesn’t feature any villainous characters.
I appreciate the amount of romance the author put in the story. It wasn’t too little and it wasn’t too much either. The amount was well-balanced. Alder and Briony does have great chemistry even though they were separated for years, but their connection still remains alive and strong. And their chemistry never fades away. It was a slow-burn process and it had more development. I knew they will somehow get together, but I didn’t expect them to have a very sweet and epic relationship. They are so compatible together. The fact that he still cared for her even though they were separated for years, it made me swoon. That was so sweet, and Briony trusted him and he never broke all the things that he promised her and he never disappoint her at all.
Briony had a hard time believing it at first but when her old memories slowly coming back, and the more time she spend with him, she started to fall for him. She even said it herself, other guys that tried asking her out doesn’t feel right, but Alder is different, he just felt right for her. If that doesn’t scream soulmates then I don’t know what is. Their feelings for each other was genuine, it keeps on growing, and I was happy for them that they get to be together again. The best friends-to-lovers trope is very powerful with this one. It is the most underrated trope, but it is my favorite.
I loved it. The book doesn’t just have a beautiful cover, and a beautiful story. But the book also delivered a beautiful message about nature. I highly recommend this book. It has a very incredible plot and very great and clever characters that everyone will like. Reading this book brings a lot of joy to me. I finished it in one sitting and it took me only one whole day to finished it which I’d never done before. This book deserve a lot of love, and I’m so happy with the direction of the story and I enjoyed it from the very first page until the end. It was a heartwarming and well-crafted story that has something to do with nature and also a little bit astral projection. This book just speaks to me on a deeper level, and it amazed me.
MY FAVORITE QUOTES
1. There are places in the world that are special. Where you may wonder is this Heaven? Or is this Earth? It’s in those places, where the lines between what’s real and what’s not are blurred. Where the boundary between the physical and astral plane becomes so thin…That spirits dwell.
2. Relying on someone else to win made me anxious and restless.
3. Losing ten years of your life will mess with you. It felt like a giant hole was inside me.
4. I took all those empty, missing pieces of my life, this gigantic void inside me that told me I was only half of who I was, and locked them up in a box and threw away the key.
5. Losing your memories means you start fresh. You don’t have anything to haunt you. Except for maybe the loss of what you once had.
6. I’d had to live with amnesia, with mystery and loss, but now I could actually heal these wounds by going back to this place. Whether or not I found what I’d been missing for so long, I could finally face my past head-on and say “you can’t hurt me anymore.” Once and for all.
7. I was done living with regret or wondering about things that I’d never find out.
8. My world was a fiery nightmare, and I couldn’t leave it.
9. Such a simple answer contained a world’s worth of implications and hidden meanings.
10. It was strange that something so mystical and distant as the infinity of space was more normal to me than something that was five feet away.
11. I’d lost this whole world, this amazing, luminous world—I’d lost it all. And somehow that was more devastating than anything I could’ve ever imagined.
12. He was a walking personification of the contradiction between my heart and mind.
13. Spirit though you might be, you have the heart of a human.
14. I couldn’t imagine being the only one of my kind, trapped between worlds, a part of both but belonging in neither.
15. You can’t pick and choose the things you want in a friend. You have to accept all their burdens and baggage and annoying tendencies. If you love them enough, they’ll even become endearing.
16. It had to be painful, talking to an old friend and telling them what they’d forgotten even though you remembered it all like it was yesterday.
17. No one could abandon me if they didn’t get close in the first place.
18. I was not just a person made of my past, but my own person.
19. Some days it was hard to tell the difference between you and any other spirit.
20. There are places in the world that are special.
21. I admired the painter’s unique ability to see beyond the physical and look at the world through the lenses of energy. Of seeing the life in every single color. That’s how life was—mixing, merging, swirling, beautiful strokes of energy.
***FOLLOW THE TOUR HERE***
Lindsey Duga is a middle grade and young adult writer with a passion for fantasy, science fiction, and basically any genre that takes you away from the real world. She wrote her first novel in college while she was getting her bachelor’s in Mass Communication from Louisiana State University.
Other than writing and cuddling with her morkie puppy, Lindsey loves catching up on the latest superhero TV show and practicing yoga.