REVIEW: Dreams of Fire by Shauna Lawless

Shauna Lawless already sits pretty high on my auto-buy author list based on her first two novels, The Children of Gods and Fighting Men and The Words of Kings and Prophets. So I was extremely excited to learn that Lawless was returning to her Middle Ages Irish historical fantasy Gael Song series with her novella Dreams of Fire. Let me tell you: I pressed that pre-order link as soon as it appeared on my newsfeed. I love Shauna Lawlewss’ writing and I love novellas. It was going to make a great reading day. And it did.

Dreams of FireEven if you have yet to read the other novels in the Gael Song series, you can start with Dreams of Fire as a bit of an amuse-bouche and enjoy it with no other knowledge. The events in Dreams of Fire take place about a century before the first novel, so it is the perfect introduction if you are still unsure if this series will be for you. If, like me, you have read and loved the other novels, this novella allows you to see these beloved characters from a different perspective and learn more about my favourite character, Rónnat.

Rónnat is the sister to Fódla, one of the main characters from The Children of Gods and Fighting Men and The Words of Kings and Prophets. They are Descendants of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and their peaceful life with their father is threatened. Rumors are that all the Descendants must move to their hidden fortress for protection from mortal men and their sworn enemies, the fire-wielding Formorians. Rónnat feels trapped in the fortress, surrounded by people, with no space to roam or find solitude. Worse, her arrival there triggers a strange voice whispering to her of death and destruction and disturbing dreams full of fire. 

Shauna Lawless is a brilliant writer, even in a shorter piece of fiction that shines through. Dreams of Fire is just over a hundred pages, but it is still an utterly immersive novella, and in that short time, Lawless makes you genuinely care for the characters. You feel the sisterhood between Rónnat and Fódla, their hopes, their fears. I accept that I already know the characters and the wider plot, but even if I did not, I genuinely believe it would evoke the same response. Lawless blends Irish mythology and history perfectly, and Dreams of Fire is reading time that is very well spent.

I want to say a huge thank you to Shauna Lawless and the team at Head of Zeus for sending me an eARC of Dreams of Fire. Also, thank you to fellow GdM Team Member John Mauro for arranging it with Shauna! Although I was sent an eARC in exchange for providing this review, I also bought the novella, which is available now as an e-book for the princely sum of 99p or $1.99, depending on your area. The third novel in Lawless’ Gael Song series, The Land of the Living and the Dead, is scheduled for release by Head of Zeus in September 2024.

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Fiona Denton

Fiona Denton

Fiona is a former secondary school teacher and current stay at home parent to two very wild and active children. She lives with them and her husband in the UK and can often be found on a beach paddling in the North Sea or stomping through a forest with the sprogs and hounds. She loves to read and has always enjoyed fantasy novels, particularly the very dark and twisty ones with mythical creatures.