The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig book review

Sibling rivalry takes a dark turn in The Fire Sermon

Sibling relationships can be tricky. If you’re the eldest child, you might resent your younger siblings’ attention-seeking; if you’re younger, you might feel overshadowed by your elders. Those kinds of tensions are nothing compared to the sibling rivalries in thepost-apocalyptic world of The Fire Sermon.

After a catastrophic event known as ‘the Blast’, all children are born in pairs. One, the Alpha child, is physically perfect; the other is the Omega child, weak and mutated. Society splits in two, with Omegas sent to separate colonies where Alphas don’t have to look at them. Even so, the twins are linked: when one dies, so does the other.

It’s a complicated setup, but it works. Our heroine, Cass, is a particular oddity: both she and her twin were born physically healthy, so they grow up together. But Cass is a seer, and her mutation eventually gets her cast out. Living as an impoverished Omega is bad enough, but when her twin rises to power in Alpha society, Cass finds herself in mortal danger.

Cass is your typical reluctant YA heroine, but she’s also brave and clever enough that it’s not irritating when everyone falls in love with her. Romance is kept in the background; this is about brothers and sisters, and one person’s duty to another. The twin links make every decision more complicated – how do you start a revolution when any act of violence hurts your side as much as the enemy?

It’s possible to see a familial resemblance to The Hunger Games, but the two are far
from identical, and Cass’s story is just beginning.