I subscribe to a daily email from Bookbub.com that alerts me to free or cheap (less than $3) ebooks that I can download for my Kindle. With the exception of probably two (soon to be three) series, I only download the ones that are actually free because I’m cheap and have too much left to pay in student loans.
I opened the Bookbub email last week and saw that at the top was a book called Burning Bright for free. Burning Bright is the first in a new series from Melissa McShane called The Extraordinaries.
As you can imagine, not all of the books I download immediately catch my attention. Most of them are in the category of “eh, sounds interesting and it’s free, so, sure, I’ll download it.” However, when I read the blurb for Burning Bright, I immediately thought, “Ooh, this sounds like it’ll be good.”
Y’all. I started reading this on Sunday night after we got back into town, stayed up until 11:00 or 12:00, and only got four or five hours of sleep. When I was at work yesterday, all I could do was think about reading it. And even now, thinking on it, I want to go back and reread it to enjoy it more and see what I missed.
It’s set in a parallel universe, somewhere in the late 1700s and early 1800s judging by the references to Napoleon. England is still very much a patriarchal society and still very much in the Georgian era. There are even mentions to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility as the main character, Elinor, shares a name with the main character of Burning Bright.
Elinor is the second daughter of the Pembroke sisters. Her older sister, Selina and a Speaker (meaning a telepath), has been married off, happily, and her younger sister, Amelia, is gifted with Shaping, meaning she can shape her body however she pleases. Elinor’s father, a cold, calculating man focused more on genetics than giving his ungifted second daughter any love, is a Bounder, someone who can teleport, essentially. Elinor’s mother is ungifted, but wholly suited to being a trophy wife.
The story begins when Elinor wakes up in the middle of the night to her room on fire. She has, at age 21, finally uncovered her power as a Scorcher (someone who controls fire). Not only that, she is an Extraordinary Scorcher. Extraordinaries are people whose gifts are stronger than normally gifted people.
Once she has proven she is worth a strong marriage and can produce a strong lineage, her father eagerly sets about trying to marry her off, despite that she cannot be married without her consent. At a second coming out party for her, she dances with men and finds unwelcome attentions from one man in particular. When she flees him and hides in an empty room, she stumbles upon Captain Miles Ramsay, who is also taking a break from the crowds.
Up until that moment, she was convinced that she had two paths in her life: become the spinster daughter, always dependent on her parents to keep her, or marry into a sad, unhappy life and produce children for a husband. Upon meeting Captain Ramsay, she realizes there’s a third path and takes it. Elinor joins the Royal Navy.
I’ll stop there, but Elinor’s strength of character and morality were what really resonated with me (no, not just the middle child thing). She has such forward thoughts throughout her interactions with the men on the ship that it’s astounding. Thoughts such as “‘I can’t believe my honor is such a flimsy thing that I cannot even walk about a ship without raising suspicion,'” or “‘How dare I be accused of a man being unable to control his actions just because I walked by?'”
It’s a line of thinking that really comes to mind in today’s society as well. I won’t keep going on other than to say this: Read this book.
One more thing: I love that McShane really digs down into the nautical knowledge. I picked up a little bit, but will have to research to fully understand it.
I mentioned earlier that there have only been two series that I have actually gone on and bought the rest in the series. Yeah, there’s about to be another series. It just kills me that there’s only one other book so far in The Extraordinaries.