Imagine keeping to the shadows for your entire life, watching a powerful demon king groom the heir to his bloodstained and charred throne…who also happens to be your brother. A story of family, royalty, duty, and survival, Sons of Fire by Tracy Auerbach is a thrilling YA adventure read that combines reality and fantasy in unexpected ways.
While the plot’s premise is one we’ve read before, the devil is in the details. Two brothers, one favored (Aidan, the Prince of Fire) and one just trying to stay out of an imposing and calculating father’s way (Keegan), get a crash course in cooperation when they’re forced to team up and keep their dad (the Demon King of Fire) happy – or else. Because here’s the first kicker; their assignment sends the teens out of the fire of the Demon Realm and right into a churning mess of teen angst and animosity in Long Island. And should they fail to secure their Master’s sudden interests on Earth? An eternity spent floating around the abyss. Succeed, and one of the brothers gets a favor from dear old Dad.
But for Keegan, this is just where the trouble begins. One of Auerbach’s greatest strengths as a writer, in my opinion, is in being able to draw a stark contrast between her two main characters without resorting to overt, obvious language. She doesn’t have to – everything about Keegan’s misgivings regarding Aidan’s ability to dig up some human emotion, his soft spot for the human race, his perception of his demonic urges, and even his approach to romance tell us all we need to know about how different he is from his harsher family members. For as formidable as he is by nature, Keegan also exposes a sense of vulnerability that we might expect from a human teenager, if not the spawn of a demon king sent to do recon on the world we know.
With an honest, straightforward writing style, Auerbach drives home the challenges both brothers face – Keegan’s disconnect with his family and literally hellish environment, Aidan’s blind acceptance and willingness to follow his father’s marching orders to the letter. In a way, it’s her most effective means of establishing a real-world connection between her readers and her otherworldly characters. Her insights into Keegan’s brain, featuring the thoughts and raw responses of both a demon and a human boy, are like outlets through which readers will be able to find ways to relate to this character and see him as a unique and utterly alien creature.
The pressure may be on for Aidan and Keegan, but readers who want a touch of the magical in a commonplace setting, complete with family dynamics, adventure, and romance to boot, will find Sons of Fire to be a read that’s so easily digested, they’ll find themselves at the end of the book before they even know it.