BookBrowse Reviews Fire Season by Leyna Krow

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Fire Season

A Novel

by Leyna Krow

Fire Season by Leyna Krow X
Fire Season by Leyna Krow
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2022, 336 pages

    Jul 2023, 336 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer Hon Khalaf
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About this Book



Set in the Wild West of Spokane Falls at a time of historical upheaval, Fire Season spans multiple genres and features a woman finding her power in a world where her options are limited.

Fire Season is a thoroughly enjoyable novel that touches upon multiple genres and themes. It initially presents itself as historical fiction, but then weaves in supernatural elements tied to feminist power. The exciting backdrop of the late 19th century Wild West as the territory of Washington is on the verge of becoming a state establishes the paradoxical foundation of America as a place of opportunity for independence, but with restrictions on that freedom for some. Shortly after we are introduced to Barton, a banker, and Roslyn, a prostitute, Spokane Falls is engulfed by flames, an event that operates as the catalyst for the characters. It is here that people can reveal their true natures without supervision and compunction. Some characters choose to take advantage of tragedies like the fire in selfish ways through deception and thievery, whereas others view it as an opportunity to break free from cycles of abuse and addiction in order to support others and rebuild a community.

A man named Quake eventually completes a disturbing love triangle with Barton and Roslyn, as he enters Spokane Falls to exploit the fire for personal gain as a self-professed scientist. Through Roslyn's interactions with both men, we see different, yet fundamentally problematic ways that heterosexual relationships are embedded with misogyny and inequalities in power. These interactions reflect the dark underbelly of transactionalism and con artistry that are fundamentally baked into America.

Initially, Roslyn's personality is given a shadowy life only through Barton and Quake's projection of their fantasies onto her as a blank object for their utilization. Yet she slowly becomes a real character with much greater complexity than either of the men. Author Leyna Krow adds to the effect of this characterization with vignettes that punctuate the novel about other women who have extraordinary powers, such as flying or communicating with animals. These compelling stories delve into the internal musings of women with remarkable gifts who have been ill-used and dampened by society.

As Roslyn comes to terms with her own abilities, she begins to grasp that she does not need to rely on men for survival or validation. We follow her as she grows and learns that her foresight and other gifts provide empowerment. She ultimately realizes that this can only be done alone, leaving Barton and Quake in her wake so she can truly be free to express herself as a compassionate, loving and kind woman — and finally take advantage of the freedom that America could represent.

Fire Season takes the reader into the characters' internal turmoil, exploring themes first from traditional masculine perspectives and then revealing hidden individual and feminist meanings. There is the realization that con culture was an elemental aspect of America's Wild West, an idea which is juxtaposed with the paradox of yearning for external legitimacy — as a place or a person — while also wanting security in true love and acceptance of self, something that can only be established internally. For Roslyn, accepting her magical gifts ultimately frees her from the social and personal binds that fetter her.

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in September 2022, and has been updated for the August 2023 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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