Author: Imogen Rose
Publisher: Imogen Rose
Available in print & digital
May Contain Spoilers
Welcome to Bonfire Academy!
Set in the foothills of the alpine mountains in St.Moritz, this exclusive private school caters to a special kind of student. Enter at your own risk… but if you are human, you may not want to enter at all.
INITIATION is the first book in the prequel series (Bonfire Academy) of the Bonfire Chronicles.
I thought I was over YA books set in magical schools, but when I first started reading Initiation, I quickly discovered it to be quite different from the other stories I have read in the past. Bonfire Academy is not a safe place to be, even when you can turn yourself into a kick-ass demon. There are vampires just barely in control of their blood-lust, shifters ready to rumble, and an administrative staff that deserves an F in their efforts to keep the student body from killing each other. Fun stuff! I kept wondering where the authority figures were, and why they kept letting poor Cordelia get ripped limb from limb.
Cordelia is the daughter of the Demon King of Paris, and when she returns to Bonfire Academy for an optional year, all she wants to do is improve her tennis skills. When she’s asked to mentor Faustine, a human-demon hybrid and the daughter of the Demon King of London, she gets more trouble than she bargained for. Renegade shifters attack her and leave her in pieces in the hallway. The sweet scent of Faustine’s human blood brings out the beast in the young paranormals attending the school. She has somehow synced herself with an arrogant and cocky faery. Suddenly, Cordelia’s plans of playing tennis take a backseat to her efforts to keep herself and her young charge alive.
I haven’t read Faustine, the first book in the Bonfire Chronicles. Initiation is a prequel to that book, but I didn’t have any trouble following along with the story. After feeling kind of ho-hum about reading Initiation, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I became engaged in Cordelia’s strange and occasionally menacing world. The teachers keep a hands off approach to managing the school, and despite the security cameras scattered all over the campus, bloody altercations break out between Cordelia and a group of shifters who have mysteriously targeted her and Faustine. In the first 200 pages, poor Cordelia has the crap beaten out of her. Multiple time. She is touch as nails, but when a pack of nasty shape-shifters attack all at once, the odds aren’t exactly in her favor.
What I enjoyed best about Initiation was the characters’ motivations and reactions to those around them. They aren’t goody-two-shoes, and as most of them completely lack any human blood, their system of ethics and morality are completely different from what I’m used to. There is no overwhelming need for Cordelia to save the day, unless it directly involves saving her own hide. While she does form a few friendships and bonds almost instantly with Faustine, Cordelia takes one of Bonfire Academy’s golden rules to heart: trust no one. While she is pleasant with her classmates, she keeps most of them at arm’s length. Except when it comes to guys. Then, oops, has she made a mess for herself!
Love triangles in YA PNR usually drive me nuts. The protagonist is always drawn to the bad boy, the guy I would consider the worst match for her. In this book, that isn’t an issue, because nobody is what I would consider good or bad, including Cordelia. She is hooking up with both Quinn and Jagger, with only a twinge of guilt. Boyfriend Quinn is kind of dull, so I was rooting for Jagger. In all honesty, though, the romantic elements take a backseat to the rest of the plot, the main one being Cordelia’s race to discover why the shifters want her dead, and discovering why Faustine keeps vanishing into thin air when the going gets tough for her. While there was a little of the customary soul-searching about who her perfect match would be, it was kept as more of a minor sub-plot than the main focus of the book, which I found refreshing. It is irritating when the protagonist’s sole purpose for living seems to be finding her soul mate. I prefer a heroine who is confident with herself, and who doesn’t need a boyfriend to complete her.
Initiation is a fun book, with a different perspective on magical schools. The student body is made up of what we would consider monsters, and they aren’t embarrassed to act like monsters. There’s a lot of action and Cordelia is hard pressed to keep herself together (literally). If I have one complaint, it’s that the pacing lagged for the last quarter of the book, and the dialog was occasionally stilted. Otherwise, I enjoyed my time at Bonfire Academy, and I’m curious to see what happens next.
Review copy provided by Bewitching Book Tours