May 25, 2021

#BookReview: Set Fire to the Gods (Set Fire to the Gods #1) by Sara Raasch, Kristen Simmons

Synopsis: Ash is descended from a long line of gladiators, and she knows the brutal nature of war firsthand. But after her mother dies in an arena, she vows to avenge her by overthrowing her fire god, whose temper has stripped her country of its resources.

Madoc grew up fighting on the streets to pay his family's taxes. But he hides a dangerous secret: he doesn't have the earth god’s powers like his opponents. His elemental gift is something else—something that hasn't been seen in centuries.

When an attempted revenge plot goes dangerously wrong, Ash inadvertently throws the fire and earth gods into a conflict that can only be settled by deadly, lavish gladiator games. The fights put Madoc in Ash's path, and she realizes that his powers are the weapon her rebellion needs—but Madoc won’t jeopardize his family, regardless of how intrigued he is by the beautiful warrior. 

But when the gods force Madoc’s hand, he and Ash uncover an ancient war that will threaten more than one immortal—it will unravel the world.


Rating: 1 Star
My Review: I wanted to fall hard for this one.  It did grab me early on and the powers that are used were interesting.  However, as the story progressed I lost more and more interest in the plight of the characters and the story just didn't hold me at all.  I found the writing overly descriptive and the story lacking. 

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up-A high stakes YA fantasy full of elemental gladiator fight sequences and political schemes. The diverse world-building puts familiar Greco-Roman mythology in a blender with Avatar: The Last Airbender. Each of the six gods have a different elemental magic called energeias. After the gods defeated the Mother Goddess, they settled down in six countries and now resolve their conflicts through energeias-ly gifted gladiators in arena combat rather than all-out war. Geoxus (god of earth and stone energeias) and Ignitus (god of fire energeias) declare war and bring the young gladiators together. Olive-skinned Madoc Aureliu has lived in the slums of Geoxus' country, making money in street fights and hiding his energeias by pretending to be powerless. Ash Nikau, who has brown skin, is the daughter of Ignitus's favorite gladiator and is forced to take her mother's place when a fight goes sideways. The well-executed plot is occasionally hampered by melodramatic moments and underdeveloped world-building. The mythologies often get repeated instead of expanded upon, making the world feel flat despite the interesting characters. The strength of the novel rests on the character relationships; not just the budding enemies-to-lovers romance between Madoc and Ash, but with their families, friends, and gods. Raasch and Simmons balance a large and memorable cast of characters with aplomb. VERDICT Recommended for libraries where fantasy and dystopia are popular, this series starter's action scenes are on par with the level of violence found in the "Hunger Games" novels.-Emmy Neal, Lake Forest Lib., ILĪ±(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


“A high stakes YA fantasy full of elemental gladiator fight sequences and political schemes … [that] puts familiar Greco-Roman mythology in a blender with Avatar: The Last Airbender…. Raasch and Simmons balance a large and memorable cast of characters with aplomb.” -- School Library Journal

Set Fire to the Gods is every bit as ACTION-PACKED, IMAGINATIVE, HEROIC, AND DEEPLY MAGICAL as its title suggests, with an ending that will leave you reeling!” -- Katharine McGee, New York Times bestselling author of American Royals

“Sara Raasch and Kristen Simmons’s action-packed epic of noble gladiators and warring gods is a must for mythology lovers. With twists and schemes aplenty, this new world of gods and elemental powers keeps the pages turning. COMPLETELY ENTHRALLING. I can’t wait for more of this world.” -- Kendare Blake, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Three Dark Crowns series

“The history of this world is a fascinating one. . . both heartbreaking and intriguing to observe.” -- Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

About the Author

Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then: her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things, and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the Snow Like Ashes series, These Rebel Waves, and These Divided Shores. You can visit her online at and @seesarawrite on Twitter.

Kristen Simmons is the critically acclaimed author of the Article 5 series, The Glass ArrowMetaltownPacifica, and The Deceivers. She has worked with survivors of abuse and trauma as a mental health therapist, taught Jazzercise in five states, and is forever in search of the next best cupcake. Currently she lives in Cincinnati, OH, with her husband, where she spends her days supporting the caffeine industry and chasing her rambunctious son. You can visit her online at

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