Desert Isle Keeper
Fire & Heist
Is there anything better than curling up on a chilly fall evening with a light-hearted novel featuring dragons? If there is, I have no earthly idea what it might be. Dragons have always fascinated me, and so, when I learned that author Sarah Beth Durst had written Fire and Heist, a standalone novel featuring these mythical creatures, I knew I had to read it at the earliest possible opportunity.
Sixteen-year-old Sky Hawkins is a were-dragon. At least, that’s what she likes to call herself despite the fact that her father and three older brothers absolutely hate the term. They prefer she refer to herself as a Wyvern, the proper name for a human who has the ability to transform into a dragon. For Sky, all of this is just semantics. No one she knows has ever mastered the art of changing shape, and Sky has begun to wonder if this particular part of her Wyvern heritage has been lost forever. She spends her days attempting to perfect the art of breathing fire, dreaming of the day her overprotective father will allow her to lead her first heist, and lamenting the fact that her mother has recently disappeared without a trace. Surely, that’s enough for one girl to deal with. But the universe has something else in store for Sky, something that will make everything else seem utterly inconsequential. You see, Wyvern society is quite competitive, and the disappearance of Sky’s mother has tarnished the Hawkins family’s good name so much so that Sky’s long-time boyfriend has publicly dumped her, and Sky’s father has been forced to give up more than half the wealth he has amassed over the years. Now, Sky’s family is on the verge of total ruin, and Sky wants nothing more than to set things right.
In the months since her mother vanished, Sky has tried unsuccessfully to discover what really happened on the night she went missing. She knows only that her mother was attempting to execute an extremely difficult heist, one with the power to greatly improve her family’s social standing. Wyverns are quite fond of gold and other symbols of wealth, and learning to successfully steal valuable items is one of the skills Wyvern youngsters must master if they ever hope to be successful adults. Unfortunately, the heist Sky’s mother was planning went horribly wrong, and she never returned. Sky’s father and brothers seem content to act as if none of this ever happened. They want to keep their heads down and avoid further scandal, but Sky can’t let it rest. She is desperate to find her mother and bring her home again, for only then can things go back to the way they used to be.
Sky knows she can’t uncover the truth on her own, so she enlists the help of a group of very unlikely allies, and together this rag-tag group embarks on a mission that turns out to be more dangerous and far-reaching than any of them could have imagined. It seems that some truths are better left undiscovered, and Sky’s inability to leave well enough alone could just cost her and her friends everything they hold dear.
I’m usually drawn to fantasy novels that contain a healthy dose of darkness, so I wasn’t sure how enjoyable I’d find Fire and Heist, but it turned out to be exactly the light-hearted romp I didn’t know I needed in my life. The story is gripping, and the characters practically leap off the page. It’s the kind of book that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still manages to be utterly immersive.
Ms. Durst’s portrayal of Sky is one of the best things about this book. She’s undeniably a teenager, someone who acts rashly and regrets it later, someone who gives into her emotions a little more often than she should. So much of today’s young adult fiction is filled with teenagers who act much older than their years, so it was refreshing to spend time with a heroine whose thoughts and actions screamed adolescence. I wasn’t always a fan of Sky’s hair-brained schemes, but I found myself cheering her on all the same.
Some readers might find the novel’s ending a bit too neat and tidy for their liking, but I honestly can’t imagine Sky’s story being wrapped up any other way. Sure, the author could have made things a bit more complex, but that would have detracted from the overall charm of the book. Fire and Heist is a feel-good read filled with laughter and mayhem, and I read the whole thing with a huge smile on my face.