LIBERTY’S FIRE reviews

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May 19, 2015 by Lydia Syson

L's F & Absinthe

‘remarkable…a novel of extraordinary resonance and power…Both as a gripping narrative which defines the meaning of ‘page-turner’ perfectly and also the bringing to life of a historical event of crucial importance…Liberty’s Fire works superbly.’ Armadillo

Telegraph ‘best YA book of 2015′: ‘Lydia Syson does another fine job of bringing to life sometimes neglected periods of the past. . .the detail is great. . .’ Martin Chilton, Culture Editor online

‘a brilliant milieu for such a story, at a time and place that feel familiar – through stories of the French Revolution and Les Misérables – but which are both distinct and novel. Political ideas and agency are broached; themes of personal, class and gender liberation are all developed in an incident-packed plot. The main protagonists are faced with decisions of moral ambivalence relevant today…an unusual mixture of hard-hitting story-telling and subtle discourse on adolescence – and on the courage needed to face an uncertain world. Highly recommended.’ Historical Novels Review

‘Syson brings this pivotal episode of 19th-century history glowingly alive…a great read for young people – and adults for that matter – irrespective of gender.’ Morning Star

‘. . .an inspired setting for this tense, dramatic novel. . . The writing is powerful, the events terrifying.’ The Bookbag

‘a dramatic story filled with tragedy and heroism. Syson’s protagonists are very real, not least in their fallibilities. Jules and Antoine, Zéphyrine and Marie are young people we recognise and understand – even when their actions may be less than heroic, for history is never black or white. The Parisian setting is vivid and immediate. The reader is there on the barricades cheering for the Commune. While the Tudors and Victorians may hold a continuing fascination, it is novels like this that open the eyes and imagination to a wider history. Highly recommended.’  Books for Keeps *****

‘this exciting and unflinching novel is a hugely satisfying read – and a fascinating one too.’ Absolutely Dulwich magazine

‘powerful and complex…historical fiction at its best: opening a window on the past and showing a moment that has echoes and resonances with our own troubled times’ Ann Turnbull, An Awfully Big Blog Adventure – Reviews

‘a thrilling, daring love story…Syson’s passionate account of the lives of four youths during those dramatic seventy-two days in 1871 is a riveting yarn. With bullets flying and hearts throbbing, she lucidly portrays the historical context and complications, the high hopes and thwarted aims of the first democratically elected socialist government, and its rapid unravelling.’ Jenny McPhee at Bookslut.

Liberty’s Fire is perfect for fans of Lydia Syson’s previous novels: she has written another beautifully evocative, fascinating historical epic which had me enthralled from the opening pages.’ We Love This Book

‘Highly recommended…written with passion, strength and inspiration…Historical fiction at its best, it’s fascinatingly and carefully crafted making it well worth reading and discussing.’ ReadPlus

‘Highly recommended’ by The Children’s Book Council of Australia: ‘a beautiful and tragic love story of friendship and betrayal.  Lydia Syson has researched this book impeccably to present multiple perspectives of civil war and unrest but with a strong clarion call for the underdog and revolutionaries.  As the Communards seek desperately to take control of their lives and rise above class oppression and poverty, the horror of war is brought home tragically and evocatively…this is a haunting and vividly told tale…fascinating insight into a slice of French history that had repercussions across time and space as workers rose up in successive revolutions around the world.  A great read for adult members too.’ (CBCA Tas e-News No. 3, 2015)

‘seriously exciting reading’ Serendipity Reviews

‘shocking and fascinating and just hugely emotional…a roller coaster’ Fluttering Butterflies

‘This book is a historical gem…tense, moving and written deeply from the heart…Be inspired and read it.’ Mr Ripley’s Enchanted Books

‘a thrilling and passionate plot perfect for the teenager in your life.’ Counterfire

‘a truly extraordinary book. Syson brings this pivotal moment in French history into glorious life…’ The Review Diaries

‘gripping…I got swept away with the characters and the situations they were all in: unrequited love, family, dreaming of a better life..’ The Pewter Wolf

‘Lydia…writes my sort of historical fiction…well-researched with a brilliant attention to detail..all in all a fascinating read.’ The Overflowing Library

‘…the scene is set for conflicts of all kinds. Lydia Syson writes about all of them with skill, but it’s her descriptions of the fighting which, as a writer, particularly impress me…
The Commune only lasted a few short months, and the communards were ferociously punished. The issues are complex, but Syson handles them adeptly. And as we see how this movement by the people and for the people starts with passionate idealism, but becomes mired in the politics of necessity, perhaps we may reflect with perplexity on how the same story continues to be told – over, and over, and over again.’ A Fool on a Hill

‘The characters were so strong and different. I don’t think there was a character I didn’t like! The historical backdrop was really vividly written…a beautiful tale of French rebellion.’ The Whispering of the Pages

‘…a fascinating YA historical, which is about friendships and love, but also about deciding what it is worth to fight for and when to take a stand. I had a fantastic time with Lydia Syson’s latest and while it was written for a young adult audience, I think there is plenty here to appeal to adult readers as well.’ A Fantastical Librarian

‘I could not put it down’; ‘I loved the book so much’; ’I would recommend this book as it did not just focus upon history, the story also allowed for the reader to go on a journey which explores the individuals of the history rather than just the events themselves. This is important to me as I enjoy learning about the impact of events upon the people, rather than just the event itself. In my history lessons we do not study about Paris in the nineteenth century so this gave me an opportunity to consider different histories which otherwise I would not know. The different twists and turns of this book made it gripping and exciting read. I would recommend this book and I would really like to read another book by Lydia Syson.’ Young Quills Reviewers at the Historical Association

 


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"an outstanding debut novel for teenagers" THE GUARDIAN

"a fantastic historical fiction debut" THE BOOKSELLER

"a novel of extraordinary resonance and power" ARMADILLO

"a compelling story of politics and passion, bravery and love" BOOKTRUST

'the writing is powerful, the events terrifying' THE BOOKBAG

'Highly recommended' BOOKS FOR KEEPS

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