Before She Ignites (Fallen Isles) - Jodi Meadows

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

A spoiled, privileged, none-too-smart girl with a mental illness is thrown into the most awful of jails and must content with a cruel prison guard who is determined to uncover the secrets that put her there.

 

Mira is the Hopebearer, nothing more than a pretty face and a voice for the Luminary Council to placate their citizens due to a treaty named after her. Mira holds no real power, and she discovers this when she uncovers something she shouldn’t have and tries to do the right thing, culminating with her being tossed into an underground jail known as the Pit. Mira suffers from anxiety and panic attacks which I think are written quite well. She is obsessed with numbers and continues to count throughout the novel, without her illness being magically cured by the end. She spends most of the novel in the jail, and we see the lead-up to her imprisonment through flashbacks as she slowly reveals her secrets to us and to a cruel guard determined to make her like even more miserable.

 

Meadows shows her skills as a writer by slowly uncovering the truth not only about why Mira was thrown in jail, but about the people who put her there. I don’t really want to say much else because it’s better to go into this novel unspoiled and reveal it for yourself. I really enjoyed all aspects, especially as Mira began to realise her world was not the way she thought it was. She goes from a soft-skinned pawn to a stronger young woman who figures out that although she has been in a gilded cage her entire life, her voice can be used as a weapon.

 

The use of short flashback scenes cut between the current timeline of Mira in prison helps to not only reveal what led to her demise, but also develop the characters of her best friends and to see more of the dragons that Mira loves so much. It creates a kind of cliffhanger at the end of every chapter: You want to know what’s going to happen next in the current timeline but you also want to see more of Mira’s life pre-prison. You really get the sense of Mira’s privileged lifestyle as she bemoans all of the luxuries she’s missing in prison and her obsession with food is completely understandable when she is starved and tortured.

 

I think my only problem with this novel is that Mira spends an awful lot of time in prison and stubbornly doesn’t spill her secret the first chance she is given. I don’t really understand why she keeps the secret for so long. I feel that if I were in her position I’d be telling everyone I could. The more people that know, the less the bad guys can get away with what they’re doing. However, it’s a very small issue and the rest of the novel is thoroughly enjoyable. I’m really looking forward to the sequels.