I've been reading the new novel by Gillian Philip - Firebrand. This is the first book in the Rebel Angels series of novels. It is also the best and most exciting read you will have this year. Or - quite likely - next year as well. Go out and buy it now! This is, nominally, young adult fiction, but I suspect anyone from teens onwards will be captivated by it. I remember talking to Gillian about this book, the first of a series, some time ago, and thinking 'I'd buy that. I'd read it.' Well, here it is, and it surpasses all expectations. This is fantasy, but a world so fully and vividly realised, so self consistent, that you immediately enter it, believe in it, become involved with it. This is, of course, down to the quality of the writing, which is exceptional.
Firebrand is the tale of Seth, the young Sithe warrior, through whose eyes the story is visualised - flawed, deeply attractive, deeply likeable, utterly real. It is also a tale of two worlds, running side by side, and of what happens when the border between those two worlds begins to be compromised. Gillian has based the setting of this tale on old Celtic legends of the Sithe, the People of Peace, the fairy folk of old Scottish stories, with the result that there is an essential familiarity about all this. It doesn't feel 'made up' at all. It feels entirely and disturbingly real.
Coupled with that, of course, we are in the hands of a superb storyteller and a fine writer. The pace of this is mind blowing. Once you start reading, you won't want to stop. Once you get to the end, you'll want to read the next book in the series. Personally, I can't wait. And I'm more than honoured that Gillian used a quote from my play, The Secret Commonwealth, at the start of the novel.
Firebrand is published by Strident, one of the most exciting and innovative publishing houses in Scotland and is available from major bookshops including Waterstones, and online from Amazon.