Review of A Thousand Fires by Shannon Price (digital arc)




A Thousand Fires by Shannon Price


Shannon Price’s A Thousand Fires is a breakout contemporary debut―think The Outsiders meets The Iliad―that’s perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Veronica Roth.

10 Years. 3 Gangs. 1 Girl’s Epic Quest…

An extraordinary debut set in San Francisco and inspired by The Iliad…

Valerie Simons knows the city’s gang wars are dangerous—her own brother was killed by the Boars two years ago. But nothing will sway her from joining the elite and beautiful Herons to avenge his death—a death she feels responsible for.

But when Valerie is recruited by the mysterious Stags, their charismatic and volatile leader Jax promises to help her get revenge. Torn between old love and new loyalty, Valerie fights to stay alive as she races across the streets of San Francisco to finish the mission that got her into the gangs.

Expected publication: November 5th 2019 by Tor Teen





I almost skipped over the book because of the cover, but luckily I decided to read the synopsis.  Do not skip over this.  After reading it, I get the cover more.  Still not my favorite, but it does fit.


I’m going to start this with some warnings.  I apologize if I missed anything.  There is cutting, a child’s death, murder, gang wars, depression, talk of suicide, teens drinking, teens smoking pot, sex (but no details), control, revenge, rage (breaking things, etc).  It’s a thriller that is a bit dark.


This book takes place in San Francisco and I loved all the different places mentioned.  During this time, there is a gang war going on.  But not gangs in the way we think of them.  These gangs recruit people on their eighteenth birthday and they only have to stay in for one year.  They have to be loyal and never go against the leader.  These wars were started ten years earlier when there were just two.  The Herons and The Boars.  A guy, Jax, started The Stags later after the gangs started getting violent.  The Stags mostly try to keep the rich Heron’s from buying up all the property and pushing out the people who aren’t rich.  None of the gangs get along, but they do have rules to follow.  Not that it always happens.  There are revenge killings and betrayals.


Valerie (Valentine) grew up next to Matthew’s family.  The families on her street are extremely wealthy, except hers.  She still has money, but she’s not a rich kid.  Valerie and Matthew become friends and later, boyfriend and girlfriend.  Their relationship ended abruptly and Valerie isn’t over it.  Valerie’s younger brother was killed by a Boar when he was just a little kid.  Valerie blames herself, but her main goal is to get revenge.  Valerie and Matthew share the same birthday, so they are expecting to be recruited.  All of Matthew’s family has been recruited by the Herons, so Matthew was a definite.  Valerie wanted them to recruit her, too.  She thought they were the best, but she also thought that a year with Matthew would be perfect for them.  The night of their birthdays, he actually tells her that he loves her.


Our stories are intertwined, I remind myself.  Is that still true, now what we’re on opposing sides?


Valerie was not recruited by the Herons, but instead by the Stags.  She joined with the knowledge that she could still get revenge, but hated being a rival to Matthew.  Jax knows who killed Leo, so Valerie just needs to listen, prove her loyalty, and wait.  Jax starts calling her Valentine.  Jax’s mom, Theresa, is a Heron.  But she is the one who funds the Stags because she loves her son and it’s what he wants.  She can also give them some intel and a heads up from time to time.  Valerie starts to really love her members.  They’re a small group, but all very loyal to each other.  She also realizes that she has some strange feelings for Jax, but still loves Matthew.


The Stags decide to team up with the Boars to take out the Herons.  They agree that the Herons need to be stopped.  They’re destroying the city and blame anything bad on the Boars and Stages.  Even though the Boars are the most violent group, and one killed Leo, it’s something that must happen.  The Herons have old money/families supporting the new Young Herons.  The Stags are too small to do anything alone.  Jax and Ty, the Boar’s leader, make an agreement that they work together and don’t kill each other.


The gang I’m sworn to has teamed up with the one I hate to take down the group that the guy I’m in love with belongs to.


I found that Valerie’s thoughts of revenge could sometimes be too much, but overall, the story is fast paced and really good.  I ended up loving the Stags.  I was able to guess some things, but the book definitely has you wondering who you could trust.  There were so many lies, backstabbing, and assaults/murders.  A person I adored died and I had tears.  The Herons basically own the police, so that was another interesting part to the story.  While the story was about revenge and the gangs, I still found myself more invested in the people.


I gave this book 4 stars.  Thank you to Tor Teen and Edelweiss for my review copy.  Quotes were taken from an arc and may change before publication.



Have you read A Thousand Fires?  Is it on your TBR?






Author: confessionsofayareader

I'm Kristi. I'm a wife, mom, and grandma. I have been breeding leopard geckos for ten years. I love to read and have been trying to review more books (the reason for this blog besides wanting to talk about books with everyone). I also love music and going to concerts, mostly punk and pop punk.

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