Secret Fire by CJ Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld book review

CJ Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld team up for YA fantasy The Secret Fire

Secret Fire CJ Daugherty

Most teenagers feel like they’re going to live forever. Not Sacha, though. He knows exactly when he’ll die: on his 18th birthday, like every first-born son in his family for as long as anyone can remember.

He’s resigned to his fate until his teacher pushes him into accepting tutoring from Taylor, a girl whose focus on her future reminds him of everything he’s going to miss out on.

But there’s another reason their paths have crossed, and Sacha’s fate might not be as sealed as he thinks.

A collaboration between English young adult writer CJ Daugherty (The Night School series) and French children’s science fiction author Carina Rozenfeld (The Sentenials Of The Future), the novel itself is split in two, with Sacha in Paris and Taylor in Oxford.

This adds an extra layer of complication to their inevitable romance, on top of all the magical goings-on, and it’s genuinely exciting when they finally meet in person.

But aside from the geographical quirks, The Secret Fire feels a lot like any other paranormal romance, right down to the fact that Sacha is brooding and mysterious, while Taylor is a law-abiding teacher’s pet who doesn’t know how pretty she is.

There’s even a cringe-inducing makeover scene in a Parisian boutique where Taylor discovers the joy of short skirts.

It’s a shame it’s so generic, because it’s an easy and absorbing read that would otherwise be pretty enjoyable.

Unfortunately, it’s also only half a story, ending on a big fat ‘TBC’. Multi-part series are par for the course in YA, but it’s rare to see it done quite this obnoxiously.

As cute as Sacha and Taylor’s romance promises to be, there’s just not enough incentive to wait around for the second book when there are so many similar stories out there, and with far more satisfying endings.

It’s a fun read, but there’s not enough to it to make you want to come back for more.