May 24, 2013

Review of Firebrand by Gillian Philip and Interview


At the end of the sixteenth century, religious upheaval brings fear, superstition, and doubt to the lives of mortals. Yet unbeknownst to them, another world lies just beyond the Veil: the realm of the Sithe, a fierce and beautiful people for whom a full-mortal life is but the blink of an eye. The Veil protects and hides their world…but it is fraying at the edges, and not all think it should be repaired.

Discarded by his mother and ignored by his father, sixteen-year-old Seth MacGregor has grown up half wild in his father’s fortress, with only his idolized older brother, Conal, for family. When Conal quarrels with the Sithe queen and is forced into exile in the full-mortal world, Seth volunteers to go with him.

But life beyond the Veil is even more dangerous than they expected, and Seth and Conal soon find themselves embroiled in a witch-hunt—in which they are the quarry. Trapped between the queen’s machinations at home and the superstitious violence of the otherworld, Seth must act before both of them are fed to the witch-hunters’ fires…

Brimming with intrigue and rebellion, Firebrand is the first book in the Rebel Angels series by Gillian Philip, the Carnegie Medal–nominated author of Crossing the Line and multi-award-nominated Bad Faith.

add to goodreadsFirebrand (Rebel Angels #1) by Gillian Philip
Publication Date:  February 19, 2013
Publisher:  Tor Books

Available for Purchase:

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** This title was provided to us by the Publisher for an honest review.
We were in no way paid for our opinions **

MaryAnn NewI’ve been seeing some of the reviews and ratings for this book and there was mixture of love for the book, and some of indecision.  But when I was given the opportunity to review this book, I was very intrigued by the synopsis!  And I, for one, am so glad that I read it!  I loved everything about this book.  A story of 2 worlds (Sithe and mortal), brothers, love, and loads of action.

Seth MacGregor wants to feel like he belongs somewhere.  His mother, Lilith, pretty much abandoned him and left him with his uncaring father and stepmother.  But what made it all worthwhile was the brother he found in his half-brother, Conal.  Watching the relationship develop between Seth and Conal was something that I really loved to watch unfold.  We are introduced to an angst full, angry, lonely Seth who craves nothing more than to feel accepted by his father, but is only met with hateful eyes and being ignored.  I loved watching how Conal opened up his arms and his heart to Seth, and found ways in which to include him and feel like he’s part of the family.  True, in the beginning there were ups and downs, but just watch them warm up to each other, and come closer together is one that I adored.

But when it comes to doing the bidding of the Sithe queen, Kate NicNiven, Conal will not bow down.  After a fight with the Kate that succeeds in pissing her off royally, Conal and Seth find themselves banished from their world, which by the way, is a world that lies just beyond our world and is forced to live and survive in our world…circa sixteen century.  But in a time where the pointing of fingers and ratting out anyone who is different as a witch, survival is but a difficult thing for these brothers.

They do what they can to appear normal and try to blend in, but with a beauty that is anything than human, and with skills that can only be classified as “witchcraft” in this time, the brothers find that the only way they can survive is to try and find a way back to the very place they were banished.

The opening scene in the book really captured my attention.  In the middle of a witch hunt where Conal is the intended victim to be burned at the stake (along with an “at the time” unknown woman), we witness Seth mourning the coming loss of his brother, and deciding when to let the arrow fly to kill his brother so that he won’t suffer when being burned alive.  We witness the love that the brothers have for each other as they speak to each other in their minds.  It certainly was a gripping scene for me, and I could not wait to see what was going to happen next!  Leaving the beginning in a gripping cliff hanger, author, Gillian Philip, takes the reader back to before the opening scene where we are given the back story of how the brothers came to be so close, and the past of Seth (which was heart breaking!).

Of the experiences that Seth and Conal have in the two worlds that are explored in Firebrand, my favorite time for them would have to be their time on the human realm.  I found myself on the edge of my seat at various points of the book, nervous that the two brothers would be ousted as witches.  I loved the buildup that leads to the events that we see in the beginning of the book.

I know that many readers out there may have been annoyed with the constant anger emanating off of  Seth, but I loved it!  Especially when we are treated with seeing the softer side of Seth.  It was those moments that I always looked forward to.  In a world where the years go by much slower than that of the human realm, the events that transpire at the end of the book killed me!  I didn’t expect it at all, and now thinking back, I totally should have!  But I was so engrossed in the story that was unfolding, that that little tidbit of info just flew over my head.  And the villains in this book?  Ehrmehgherd!  I LOVED to hate them.  They were written so well, that regardless of how awful their evil plot was, they made the book that much more interesting!

I recommend this book to fans of Fae type reads, fans that enjoy heartwarming stories of brotherly love will really enjoy the relationship that builds between Seth and Conal, and fans of reads that have edge of your seat action and a storyline.




Top Favs with Gillian Philip

You’re home alone, there’s a fire!  Top 3 things you’d grab and save from the fire.


OK, since the two children and the husband are out of the house…

My MacBook. I’d grab that first. I’m not the world’s best backer-up, so I’m sure not all of my documents and photos are in the iCloud. While retrieving that, I’d pick up:

Whichever cat is lying in my in-tray. (I’m assuming the other one is out hunting). It’ll either be the Ghost (scary, permanently scared, at least a quarter Scottish Wildcat) or the Darkness (black, witchy, soppy, and the world’s best neck-warmer).

My Jackie Morris pictures. She’s an artist and illustrator who creates the most beautiful, ethereal, haunting paintings. I have a watercolour of a dancing hare (I love hares) and a pencil sketch of a woman curled up with a wolf, which reminds me of a scene in the third Rebel Angels book, Wolfsbane.

Top 3 Favorite authors (dead or alive) and why:


EF Benson. He wrote the Mapp & Lucia books, which are my all-time favourite comfort books. I can read them over and over again, and it’s still as good as the first time. Lucia and Miss Mapp are two of the most wonderful, bitchy, brilliant and deadly enemies ever written.

Mary Renault. Her books are full of passion and intrigue, and she brings the ancient past to full-colour, three-dimensional life. Her trilogy about Alexander the Great is especially magnificent and heartbreaking. I’m in love with him. Pointlessly.

Ruth Rendell. I think I’ve read almost everything she’s written, and that’s a lot – I’m in awe of her ability to produce brilliant murder mysteries and psychological thrillers, one after another, for so many years.

Top 3 favorite songs to listen to while writing and why:


Nina Simone: Sinnerman. It’s sinister and hypnotic and it goes on for ages. It gets me in a nice dark writing groove. There are loads of scenes it would suit as a soundtrack.

R.E.M.: First We Take Manhattan. Another one that’s all dark and menacing, with hints at a fabulous story. Also, it’s quite long. Songs to write by should be nice and long. My only problem with this one is that my son and I like to yell the chorus at the tops of our voices when we’re in the car, so I’m tempted to do the same thing at my laptop,

Snow Patrol: Run. It’s a bit cheesy and it’s everywhere but I still find it a kickstarter for a story, especially since it was used on the best movie trailer ever, for House Of Flying Daggers.

Top 3 musicians/bands/groups and why:


Pet Shop Boys. I love Neil Tennant’s sweet, snarky voice, and their lyrics are so clever – sometimes cynical and sometimes emotional, sometimes both at once. Also they have the longest, best song titles ever (like You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk, or I Don’t Know What You Want But I Can’t Give It Any More).

R.E.M. Most of all, for Michael Stipe’s voice. Most gorgeous thing ever.

Kirsty MacColl. Another one with the clever, funny, emotional lyrics. She can sing the beautiful ‘Days’ and the funny ‘There’s a Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis’ with the same intense, quiet sincerity. She was killed far too young in an boating accident. When I used to be a singer in a bar in Barbados, I used to do a lot of her songs, and they still make me nostalgic.

Top 3 favorite movies of all time and why:


Leon/The Professional. He’s a ruthless killer who finds his humanity through an angry, grief-stricken, hate-filled young girl. I adore Jean Reno and want to either marry him or have his cute, slightly stubbly babies. Also, it has Gary Oldman.

Jaws. It’s Moby-Dick without the boring bits about ambergris and harpoons. It’s as much about the people as it is about the shark. Also, it has Roy Scheider.

Pan’s Labyrinth. How can something so blood-soaked and horrific be so beautiful? Ofelia’s devotion to her baby brother is one of the most touching love stories in movies. The terrifying monster with the eyes in his palms is not so bad as the human one. Also, it has… well, it has that utterly scary faun.

Top 3 favorite movie moments and why:


Peter Pan (2003): Peter’s tempting Wendy and her brothers to fly away and forget their parents, and Mr and Mrs Darling are running home from the party to try and stop them. But they’re never going to be in time, and it all goes slo-mo, and the music is just amazing and it swells, and then they step out of the window and… oooh spine-tingler.

Casablanca: The Nazis are having a sing-song round the piano just as Rick’s coming out of his office with Laszlo. Laszlo marches downstairs, gets the band to play the Marseillaise, and the whole bar stands up and sings. Best (and most dangerous) slap-down EVER.

Moulin Rouge!: Nicole Kidman has decided she must sleep with the Duke; Ewan MacGregor is comforted (sort of) by the narcoleptic Argentinian, who performs the most aggressive tango in history, to a version of ‘Roxanne’. The singing is astonishing, the dancing is violently beautiful, and the editor who did the cutting should be knighted, or sainted, or something.

Top 3 favorite gadgets and why:


My electronic cigarette. I should never have started smoking again, and I only did it because I was stressed, but I’m not sure I could ever have given up a second time. This ridiculous little gadget seems a lot more safe, even if I do smoke it more, and it’s actually put me off the real thing.

My big flatscreen TV and its DVD player. Does that count as a gadget? It sounds shallow but it’s where I bond with my kids over wine, popcorn and Buffy box sets (ahem; they don’t get the wine); where I catch up with all the movies I wish I’d seen years ago; and where I’m inspired to try to make stories that are at least half as good as the ones I’m watching.

My Time Capsule. As I mentioned before, I’m terrible at backing things up. This backs up everything on my MacBook, every day. It’s peace of mind in stylish plastic. Unless of course I’m home alone and there’s a fire…


About the Author:



Gillian Philip is also know as Gabriella Poole, whom she wrote the Darke Academy series as.

I live in the north-east highlands of Scotland, with one husband, two children, three dogs (Cluny, Milo and Otto), two psychotic cats (the Ghost and the Darkness), a slayer hamster (Buffy), three chickens (Mapp, Lucia and Mrs Norris) and a lot of nervous fish. I have taken a solemn vow not to get any more pets. I will probably break this vow.

Writing for a living is (a) what I always wanted to do; (b) occasionally frustrating; (c) a lot of fun – I take dictation from the characters in my head, who spend their lives telling me what’s going to happen next.

But I like it that I never know just how it’s all going to end – not till the fat lady sings, the villain meets a suitably sticky end, and the boy gets the girl (or indeed the boy).

As well as full-length books, I write fiction for secondary Key Stage 3. Life Of The Party, Mind’s Eye, Sea Fever and Cyber Fever have been published by Evans Brothers, and short stories The Changeling, Rockface, Misty and The Kindest Cut appear in their sci fi, crime, ghost and comedy collections. And I ghostwrite fiction for companies including Hothouse and Working Partners.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

1 Comment

  1. Lexi

    Ahahaha! The Ghost and the Darkness live in your house!
    Love the sound of your book, congrats on its release!

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