Monday, August 22, 2022

MMGM with a review of The Fire Star (A Maven & Reeve Mystery) by A.L. Tait

It's been a long time since I've participated in a Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, but I thought I'd give it a shot.  Shannon Messenger was the first person to start it, and the tradition carries on with Always in the Middle.  (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)

The Fire Star:  A Maven & Reeve Mystery by A.L. Tait
Format:  Paperback
Publisher:  Kane Miller Publishing
Number of pages:  320
Published:  September 1st, 2020
Source:  Publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Opening Line:  "Of all the things I'd imagined might stop us from reaching Rennart Castle by nightfall, goats had not even made the top fifty."

The Fire Star is the story of a lady's maid, a knight's squire, a stolen gem, and the hunt to capture a thief and locate a murderer.  It's a fast-paced mystery, spanning three days, with lots of action, humor, and a duo that you can't help but root for.  It's been described on Goodreads as a cross between 39 Clues and The Ranger's Apprentice, which fits it beautifully, and it also kind of reminds me of The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen.  Intricate plotting with a little palace intrigue.

Lady Cassandra is set to marry Sir Garrick, knight to Airl Buckthorn, or the master of Rennart Castle.  After having just arrived at the castle, The Fire Star is stolen from Lady Cassandra's bed chamber.  Being the newest squire at the castle, Reeve is immediately blamed for the theft, and is given three days to find the stone.  If he can't reveal the thief, he'll be sent home where he will most likely be exiled and his dream of becoming a knight will end.  Maven feels sorry for this boy and sets out to help him on his quest.  Two heads are better than one after all and they'll need all the help they can get when they find one of their friends has been murdered and the gem becomes even more elusive to find.          

I really enjoyed the dual POV of Maven and Reeve.  Maven possesses many skills, she's clever, she can hold her own in a fight.  Despite the women of Cartreff not being allowed to read or write, she grew up under her father's guidance learning military strategies, how to defend herself and is highly educated.  She's also learned how to blend in, preferring to take to the shadows and observe, rather than to stand out.  She'd probably make a very good assassin.  At first, I was kind of sad that her father sold her off to Cassandra as her lady's maid to cover his gambling debts, but Cassandra and her do have such a strong bond of friendship and have vowed to be there for one another.  They both belong to the Beech Circle, a secret society of women who support each other to become independent and free of the rules of Cartreff, very similar to a women's resistance.   Reeve is also a very fun character, and has a secret, which he hasn't shared with Maven yet.  He's kind, observant and so likeable.  I love the way that he looks out for Maven and enjoyed watching their friendship grow.    A huge thank you to Kane Miller Publishing for sending me review copies of both The Fire Star and The Wolf's Howl, which I'm really looking forward to reading next.        


  1. Welcome back to MMGM! I have THE FIRE STAR on my future read list and your review made me want to start it today! Thanks for your thoughts on the first book in the series.