A heartwrenching storyline, Gemma Lovewell
June 29, 2021
Heartsblood is the third book in the Children Of The Furnace series by Brin Murray. It is about some teenagers in a society where one country, Sekkerland, is still brutal, with children being taken away to a military camp where they are trained, beaten and even tortured. There, the sight of women is not common. The other country commonly mentioned, Southern Land, is an altogether more modern society with technology, big TV screens, and the like… but still the more upper class citizens have greater privilege.
In this world, people have specific fears, such as fire, as a result of previous events that we learn about in the earlier books. The main character, Will, has the ‘mark of the heater.’ He is sent to the camp to be ‘reformed’, ‘cured’ and ‘made better’, but instead he manages to befriend one of the hardest, coldest, child soldiers, and together they fight for what is right.
I would recommend reading this series all at once, as it is easier to get fully engaged with the storyline. The language in this book can be hard to read at times, with words like “yer”, “en’t”, “jest”, all written phonetically to reflect the characters. It can be a challenge to get into the rhythm, especially if you switch between this series and other books.
But this does not take away from the powerful storyline of the book, and once you adjust to the language, the intense story moves quite quickly. There is a lot of action, and it’s not always for the faint hearted. There are strong themes, including human brutality and climate change. I also took away the message of the importance of protesting against events that we do not agree with, although in the book this particular theme is outlined within a more unrealistic and brutal context than the world we know today. It left me wondering if the human race could ever be capable of ending up anything like this.
This series has some particularly strong characters, especially Wil and Leah, who narrate the story. They, along with Jace, are the heroes of the story, who have to band together and rise against the horrific world that High Patriarch Sachs presides over. The characters – both good and evil – are complex and layered, and develop a lot from the first book to the third. After all the hardships the reader shares with the teenagers, it is impossible to do anything other than will them to succeed. This feeling is summed up nicely by the quote: “Cuz yer gave yer heartsblood for em, is why. They did cost us more’n we can pay. But we’ve come this far, so can’t leave off now. Have to make yer all count.”
I strongly recommend reading books one and two in the Children of the Furnace series before tackling Heartsblood, as it is a story that continues, and relies on information from the preceding books. I feel it is best suited to older readers – teenagers and adults – because of the brutality throughout, and also the challenge of the language. The dark, powerful and sometimes heart wrenching storyline will appeal to fans of dystopian fiction. In this book, Brin Murray has created an excellent conclusion to a compelling series.
- Gemma is 15 and lives in Masterton.