We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
We set the Dark on Fire is the debut novel in the romantic, fantasy range by the pair of authors Zoraida Cordova and Anna-Marie McLemore from Latinx. It is a mixture of dystopian and thriller, as the soon-to-be-wife Dani is recruited by the spies, falling for her alma mater and going in her biggest awakening.
In this universe, the exemplary young women go into school to be trained for their assigned role in a polarized society. The prestigious institution here is named the Medio School for Girls. As per their specialization, the youth is expected to either handle the household of her future husband right or raise his children well. These are also the most comfortable, luxurious lifestyles that a female can have in this society, that keep her away from the upheavings from the frequent political disruption of the lower classes.
Daniela Vargas – our heroin – stays at the top of this school, but there is no truth to her pedigree. The girl is burdened with his secret: were it to be spilled out, she would be expelled from the school right away, into the fringes of the society that she doesn’t want to meddle with.
However, Daniela doesn’t get blindfolded by the curriculum. She knows that no matter how hard she strives here, she wouldn’t be prepared enough for real-life after graduation. All the more to that, Daniela is also recruited as a spice for a rebel group that fights to bring equality to Medio.
The choices she has to make it too difficult for a teenage girl: would it be better to take the privilege her parents strive so hard to get for her, or she will put everything she has behind to fight for a free Medio?
“We Set the Dark on Fire burns bright... it will light the way for a new generation of rebels and lovers.” (NPR.org)
“With its achingly slow-burn romance and incisive examination of power structures, this is a masterfully constructed novel, made all the more impressive as it’s a debut.” (ALA Booklist (starred review))
“A richly constructed world full of fantasy and diversity, with a mystery that will keep them guessing until the very end.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
“This fierce, feminist novel throws memorable characters into a provocative set of circumstances, and the constant twists will leave readers yearning for the conclusion.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
”This well-crafted fantasy offers a mirror that reflects themes in our own difficult world, namely privilege, immigration, and individualism versus the common good. A queer subplot with sensual tenderness adds rich complexity to the story. Thrilling and timely.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
Reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, We Set the Dark on Fire burns with parallels to today’s biggest news headlines. Readers will walk away with thought-provoking questions to ponder, and the story’s ending will ignite further fascination. (BookPage (starred review))
“Mejia’s debut creates a lush and beautiful Latinx-inspired world featuring complex female characters. With thrilling adventure, unexpected twists and a cliffhanger ending, readers will clamor for the next installment.” (Shelf Awareness (starred review))
“Mejia pens a compelling, gripping story that mirrors real world issues of immigration and equality.” (Buzzfeed)
“We Set the Dark on Fire is dystopian YA as you’ve only dreamed it could be. Mejia’s story is specific yet universal, intricate and vast; it’s fire and smoke and the phoenix rising from the ashes.” (Tor.com)
“With lots of action and palace intrigue, the novel is a page turner.” (New York Journal of Books)