Book Review: The Secrets of a Fire King by Kim Edwards

fire king
With The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, Kim Edwards touched hearts across the nation. In this, her first collection of stories-now with three new stories added-she explores the lives of those who exist on the fringes of society: a fire-eater, an American and his Korean war bride, Madame Curie’s maid, and others. Though their tales vary dramatically, each comes up against the barriers of place and circumstance in the most universal of experiences: the quest to discover and understand the elusive mysteries of love. Transporting readers to exotic locations, this beautiful collection reinforces Edwards’s presence as an extraordinarily gifted writer.

I remember reading Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter years ago and absolutely loving it. The first short story, and really the rest of them, reminded me why. Everyone of her stories has breathtaking imagery and she has such a great way of transporting the reader into the story, even though each one is only about 20 pages long. Each story is so unique in the plot and the characters, but also has the common thread of human struggle and coming to terms with their life and their choices.

The first story, The Great Chain of Being, drew me in with a great story about a woman reclaiming her power after living under her father’s thumb for her entire life. Anything that has a strong feminist sense to it, automatically has my attention. As a young girl, Eshlaini’s father deemed her “too crazy” and would not allow her to marry. Instead she was to stay with her father and care for him throughout his life. She agreed to stay only on the condition that she would be left his house on his death. When he died, the house was worth more than anyone thought, and her brothers tried to convince her to give it to them. Her refusal and subsequent sale of the house for her own gain showed her power; power over herself and others. She may have felt powerless throughout her life, but she surprises herself and everyone else when she does not back down from giving up the house.

My second favorite story, Thirst, is, what I think, an interesting take on The Little Mermaid. What happens after the girl gets the prince she’d been dreaming of? Well, they get married have three kids, and she continues to long for the sea. It’s great story about trying to keep your past while living in your present, and really how impossible that is. You can’t have both. (Also, she turns her husbands mistresses into fish to keep in her aquarium, which I don’t recommend as a healthy coping mechanism, but I still thought it was cool.) It’s a great story of regret and longing and how what you want may not be what you need.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this collection, and give it 4.5 Bards.

The Secrets of a Fire King: Stories

Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

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