From Dust, A Flame
– Rebecca Podos –
Balzer + Bray
Published 8 February 2022
From Dust, A Flame is a Jewish-legend inspired paranormal, historical, mystery YA fiction genre-mash-up that is as entrancing as it is unique.
A slow and confusing beginning had me questioning why I had picked this book up and checking the synopsis to make sure I had the right book. But by a quarter of the way in I was hooked. It’s a great book, strong characters, a strong sense of identity and unique. It’s also rooted in legends and mythology that is not often brought to the page – and it’s about time it was.
When Hannah wakes up one morning to discover that her eyes have changed shape and colour, it’s just the beginning of a living nightmare. Every night she falls asleep and every morning she awakes with a new and strange physical transformation. Her mother promises answers, but when she leaves and is not heard from again, Hannah and her bother know they must find their own solution. They journey to their mother’s home to meet the family they had never even heard of before. There, they discover a tale from history that would be hard to believe if they had not seen the strange changes that are taking over Hannah’s body. If they can piece together the clues they might be able to save their family.
From Dust, A Flame is a genre mash-up, part historical fiction, part mystery and part paranormal. Diverse characters, unique fantasy.
There is a lot to enjoy about this book. Once I got my head around the plot and we got through the setting up of the story, it was compelling reading. Gender identity, belonging, family, mother-daughter relationships, history, trauma from the Holocaust – there are so many themes woven seamlessly into this story. You could easily have an entire story on just one and yet they all fit so well into this complex story and none of them detract, only add to, the mystery and magic of the plot.
I particularly enjoyed Hannah’s relationship with her brother, who is her support. They make a great team. And when Ari joins them in their quest, she brings an insider’s knowledge to this world that Hannah and Gabe have stumbled into, as well as a love interest for Hannah.
A perfect addition to any library shelf or TBR pile – just good luck trying to figure out what genre to put in under.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Genre: Fantasy, paranormal, mystery.
Themes: Magic, curses, Jewish mysticism, mythology, golems, brothers, sisters, paranormal, Jewish faith,
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Representation: Jewish main characters, LGBT main and side characters, LGBT relationships, adopted main character.
Advisory: Violence, curses, references to the Holocaust and death. Magical violence. Coarse language, f*** (26), sh** (13), pi** (2), di** (2), vague sexual references.
Published: 8 February 2022 by Balzer + Bray
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 416 pages.