With trust comes risks... Ella Sole, a free-spirited and kind-hearted seventeen-year-old girl needs to get away from her past. Everything needs to be left behind. When Ella is accepted at Willow Lake Academy for Artistic And Talented Students, she's thrilled.
The school is far from her old, dreaded home, and offers great opportunities for her. As Ella adjusts to her new environment, she meets a mysterious, intriguing boy, Dillon Brapper. Dillon is hiding something, and Ella is determined to find out what it is. When she learns the truth, she must embark on a journey like no other and keep secrets from her closest friends, including her roommate, Tallie. Burning Autumn describes the passion which comes with trust, and goes deeper than ever into the heart of the unknown.
Burning Autumn ignites with Ella Sole.
Ella's haunted by an incident, the accident.
Moving to a new town after it happened was hard. When she was accepted to Willow Lake Academy, a school for the talented, people like Ella - a gifted artist, it seemed to be a good way to put her past behind her. Her awakard stepdad, Bob, drowning-in-paperwork mother, and typical little brother, Jerry, seemed willing enough. It was all scholarship, right? They could afford it, right? With the mention of Jerry's friend moving into her room, what more of a sign did she need?
Old boyfriend, new boyfriend, and cray-cray roomate... oh. my...
Oh, then there's the werewolves.
First things first, Ella has the awesomest roomate. Hilarious, semi-goth, rocker-chick Tallie - who is just as tortured by her histories as Ella - is probably the most amusing, sweet, easy-going roomate ever. Even though walking into her room at a strange hour makes a person a homicidal thug that may or may not deserve the wrath of her drumsticks; she is plastered with punk and is more the face of hard rock than Mt. Rushmore. But hey, at least she's insanely funny!
When I got Burning Autumn, the novel and I were already on good terms. The cover is beautiful and simple, and automatically awesome because the author created it herself - which in Miranda-Land, is equivillent to "mad-crazy respect!"
Which, of course, is only magnified (times 'oh, just this little number?' ... a gazillion, right here!) by the fact that the author is fifteen years old! It is so wonderfully rare that I discover writers, nonetheless authors, that are my age.
Combined with the fact that her work is within one of my absalute favorite genres, and I'm reduced to this estatic mess of "Yey!" and "Hoorah!" - niether of which are attractive exclaimations.
The utter awesomeness of this totally distrupted my impecible cool.
Speaking of impecible cool, half-way or so into the novel, we meet Chace. Oh, Chase. He's introduced as this gothic, rocker bad-boy with a thing for Tallie. He's a conflicted guy, and he's definitely more than he seems.
I loved the quirky little comments, like the dragoness explanation for the prehistoric extinction of dinosaurs.
I loved the insanely creative new take on so much lore, most of which is unfortunately untouched in the young adult genre. The creativity that went into ideas and concepts that rethink or create everything from dragons, the mysterous "The Crow" (one freaky... well, you'll see), to the faerie and their queen, to the biology and even lore of the werewolf itself!
I loved the characters, and how I felt for the characters. James' "accident" - though not exactly what it seemed - left me feeling Ella's haunting guilt and heartbreak with what the relationship was reduced to; even fearing the horrific pasts of Dillon and Tallie, and the metephorical ghosts that beleaguered them.
I loved the pacing, and the flawless flow in the writing and ease between perspectives - I loved that the author chose to write from so many points of view, which could have gone so wrong, and instead soared.
I loved the humor woven into it. I loved the flashes poetry snuck in through little windows via the characters, expecially Dillon's poetics or descriptions of Ella's artzy antics.
I loved wondering. Will it be James? Will it be Dillon? Woah - is Chase a prospect? What is going? What is happening to Ella?
There is just a whole lot to love about this story.
Obviously, this isn't the work of a seasoned, traditionally published author. There were brief areas were things that didn't need it, things you wanted to wonder about, were explained - loose ends tied and snipped neatly. But they also made the story so much more realistic to so many others in the genre! And despite wondering the purpose of certain descriptions, something new and clever was always said within them - which if you ask me, completely redeemed any "Oh. Okay, cool, but why?" by adding, "Woah. Awesome!"
Considering the fact that this is only the second book in such an early piece of what I'm sure is going to be an exceptional, wonderful writing career, and also taking consideration into the experience that went into this book, and this thing is a peice of art - just less angry than Ella's!
I sincerely urge readers not to let themselves get lost in the introductory world building in the begining! Focus on the flow until your under the skin.
About a forth of the way into the piece, the silent attack of reader's dream-state of want and more sneak up on you; before you realize it, you're inside; knee deep, claws and talons.
When you're at the half-way point, you are completely immersed. The clock that is screaming "Hey chica-" [or chico, I don't judge!] "-it's, like, LATE! So whatareya doing'?" means nothing. For goodness sakes, there are more important things! What's happening now? What's happening next? What just happened?
This is one of those books where you're not sure how or when, but you fell into it. Falling in is the absolute highest praise I can give to any piece of work. The immersion... the immersion is everything.
From the begining of the book, I knew that this book would strongly appeal to lovers of Ellen Schribner's Vampire Kisses series and the Boys That Bite novels by Mari Mancusi. The further I dove, I realized that anyone that enjoyed Brian Meehl's Suck it Up or Petru Popescu's The Birth of the Pack would enjoy it, as well. Possibly fans of Holly Black's Tithe books, for reasons well beyond the fae.
I also really appriciated the clean content - definately appropriate for all young adult readers, and a really awesome choice for previously middle-grade readers who are transitioning into the young adult genre.
Oh, and the ending completely killed me - brutally, viciously murdered.
Where you can find Elizabeth Waldie: