make the most of Lovereading newgen books for YA readers
Search our site
The Heart of Mars by Paul Magrs Read the opening extract of the brand new Paul Magrs book before its publication on 15/03/2018

The Book of Fires by Jane Borodale

The Book of Fires

Historical Fiction   Debuts of the Month   eBook Favourites   
Download an extract Share this book

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

May 2010 Debut of the Month.

Shortlisted for the Orange Award for New Writers 2010.

A very well-realised historical novel centred around the small household of a fireworks maker, a master craftsman who never stops searching for clearer and brighter fires. His insular world contains just four other people. Evoking the sights, the smells and the prejudices of 18th century London, it’s a real treasure, a book that takes you to a world you don’t want to leave as small, everyday dramas seem earth-shattering, feelings are hidden and motives concealed. A gem.

Comparison: Marina Fiorato (The Glass Blowers of Murano), Jane Harris (The Observations), Melanie Gifford (The Gallows Girl).

Jane Borodale has written a walking tour of some of the locations in this book. To read it, click here.

If you like Jane Borodale you might also like to read books by Alison Weir, James Long and Geraldine Brooks.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


The Book of Fires by Jane Borodale

A stunning historical novel, 'The Book of Fires' is the unforgettable story of Agnes Trussel -- and love, fireworks and redemption. Brought up in rural Sussex, seventeen-year-old Agnes Trussel is carrying an unwanted child. Taking advantage of the death of her elderly neighbour, Agnes steals her savings and runs away to London. On her way she encounters the intriguing Lettice Talbot who promises that she will help Agnes upon their arrival. But Agnes soon becomes lost in the dark, labyrinthine city. She ends up at the household of John Blacklock, laconic firework-maker, becoming his first female assistant. The months pass and it becomes increasingly difficult for Agnes to conceal her secret. Soon she meets Cornelius Soul, seller of gunpowder, and hatches a plan which could save her from ruin. Yet why does John Blacklock so vehemently disapprove of Mr Soul? And what exactly is he keeping from her? Could the housekeeper, Mrs Blight, with her thirst for accounts of hangings, suspect her crime or condition? Historical fiction at its very best, 'The Book of Fires' is utterly intriguing, completely compelling and impossible to put down.


'Jane Borodale displays a deft touch in this very pleasing story'
MAUREEN WALLER, Daily Telegraph

'Borodale's refreshingly original approach and engaging style makes 'The Book of Fires'
a welcome addition to the historical fiction genre' Yorkshire Evening Post

'A dark atmospheric novel from a fantastic new voice in fiction' Bury Free Press, Book of the Week

'This author's debut excels in it's portrayal of the lot of the 18th-century underclass, of the development of the dark art of pyrotechny and of the swift and usually harsh treatment of those whose sole crime was that of poverty! this 'Book of Fireworks' really works and it sparkles along at a fizzingly glorious pace. Literary pyrotechnics on a grand scale' Lady

About the Author

Jane Borodale

Jane Borodale gained her MA from Wimbledon School of Art. She has written and exhibited work for a variety of sites, including the Wordsworth Trust, Cumbria, the Foundling Museum, London, and the Dartington Hall Trust in Devon, where she was writer-in-residence. She is currently Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in Sussex, and lives in the West Country with her husband and two children.

Author photo © Sean Borodale

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading similar books...
Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

29th April 2010


Jane Borodale

More books by Jane Borodale
Author 'Like for Like'

Author's Website

Author's Facebook Latest

Loading facebook updates...


HarperPress an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


400 pages


Historical Fiction
Debuts of the Month
eBook Favourites

Historical fiction



Hooked on books? Give Lovereading a go - for the chance to discover brilliant books, and to see why our members love it so.

Claire Hill

Their sending me my first book to review 18 months ago re-awakened my fondness for reading, since then I have purchased some real gems.

Barry Griffiths

Because of Lovereading I have broadened my reading horizons with some really great books that I probably would never have chosen myself.

Susan Walsh

A well laid out site, I love the fact that is separates paranormal fiction from fantasy and horror, which other sites don't.

Jen Rainbow

It's the first site that I visit when deciding on the next set of books to buy. A particular treat is being able to download an extract.

Tessa Olson

Lovereading is a world of books. It has everything you need from new to old and much loved classic books. It even give you recommendations!

Kate Thurston

I love reading books I wouldn't normally choose before everyone else gets to read them!

Dawn Lynch

Love Reading - it not only does what it says on the tin, it does it with Jam on!!

Maz Tucker