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From Dust, a Flame

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Hannah’s whole life has been spent in motion. Her mother has kept her and her brother, Gabe, on the road for as long as she can remember, leaving a trail of rental homes and faded relationships behind them. No roots, no family but one another, and no explanations. All that changes on Hannah’s seventeenth birthday when she wakes up transformed, a pair of golden eyes with kni Hannah’s whole life has been spent in motion. Her mother has kept her and her brother, Gabe, on the road for as long as she can remember, leaving a trail of rental homes and faded relationships behind them. No roots, no family but one another, and no explanations. All that changes on Hannah’s seventeenth birthday when she wakes up transformed, a pair of golden eyes with knife-slit pupils blinking back at her from the mirror—the first of many such impossible mutations. Promising that she knows someone who can help, her mother leaves Hannah and Gabe behind to find a cure. But as the days turn to weeks and their mother doesn’t return, they realize it’s up to them to find the truth. What they discover is a family they never knew and a history more tragic and fantastical than Hannah could have dreamed—one that stretches back to her grandmother’s childhood in Prague under the Nazi occupation, and beyond, into the realm of Jewish mysticism and legend. As the past comes crashing into the present, Hannah must hurry to unearth their family’s secrets in order to break the curse and save the people she loves most, as well as herself.


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Hannah’s whole life has been spent in motion. Her mother has kept her and her brother, Gabe, on the road for as long as she can remember, leaving a trail of rental homes and faded relationships behind them. No roots, no family but one another, and no explanations. All that changes on Hannah’s seventeenth birthday when she wakes up transformed, a pair of golden eyes with kni Hannah’s whole life has been spent in motion. Her mother has kept her and her brother, Gabe, on the road for as long as she can remember, leaving a trail of rental homes and faded relationships behind them. No roots, no family but one another, and no explanations. All that changes on Hannah’s seventeenth birthday when she wakes up transformed, a pair of golden eyes with knife-slit pupils blinking back at her from the mirror—the first of many such impossible mutations. Promising that she knows someone who can help, her mother leaves Hannah and Gabe behind to find a cure. But as the days turn to weeks and their mother doesn’t return, they realize it’s up to them to find the truth. What they discover is a family they never knew and a history more tragic and fantastical than Hannah could have dreamed—one that stretches back to her grandmother’s childhood in Prague under the Nazi occupation, and beyond, into the realm of Jewish mysticism and legend. As the past comes crashing into the present, Hannah must hurry to unearth their family’s secrets in order to break the curse and save the people she loves most, as well as herself.

30 review for From Dust, a Flame

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)

    Jewish contemporary fantasy with f/f!!!! Hello that is all I need in this world!!

  2. 5 out of 5

    theresa

    sapphic jewish fantasy?? yes please I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter sapphic jewish fantasy?? yes please I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter

  3. 5 out of 5

    Abi (The Knights Who Say Book)

    i will continue to slam "want to read" on every jewish fantasy book until i die!!! i will continue to slam "want to read" on every jewish fantasy book until i die!!!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Renee Godding

    Actual Rating: 4.5/5 stars “People come and go in our lives. They leave impressions on us, like letters in dust. Then she bends over and blows on the sugar, scattering the grains across the tabletop onto the floor. Inpermanent things can still change us forever.” Rebecca Podos’ writing could go either way for me. Where Like Water still stands among my favourite YA-contemporary novels, The Mystery of Hollow Places did absolutely nothing for me. Her latest release was a wonderfully positive surpris Actual Rating: 4.5/5 stars “People come and go in our lives. They leave impressions on us, like letters in dust. Then she bends over and blows on the sugar, scattering the grains across the tabletop onto the floor. Inpermanent things can still change us forever.” Rebecca Podos’ writing could go either way for me. Where Like Water still stands among my favourite YA-contemporary novels, The Mystery of Hollow Places did absolutely nothing for me. Her latest release was a wonderfully positive surprise, that combined what I loved in Like Water with what I wanted from The Mystery of Hollow Places. From Dust a Flame is a Jewish-inspired contemporary-fantasy with themes of family, self-discovery and retracing your (cultural and familial) roots at its core. We follow 17-year old Hannah and her adoptive brother Gabe, who’ve never had a place to truly call home. Every year-or-so their free-spirited mum uproots the family to move cross country; no trails left behind, no extended family to inform, and no explanations provided. That silence is forcefully broken when Hannah falls victim to a curse that mutates her body in impossible ways overnight. Their search for answers leads Gabe and Hannah down the path of her Jewish ancestry, along myths, legends and the tragic history that their family has carried for generations. From Dust a Flame does a great job of balancing all the elements it introduces to create a story that offers plenty of (fantastical) plot and action, but sacrifices nothing on character development along the way. There’s a lot to love here, with its representation of Jewish culture being front and centre in a way I haven’t seen done in YA before. Hannah’s journey of discovering and claiming a culture and history that she hasn’t grown up with, but has nonetheless shaped her life in many ways, is wonderfully done. There’s discussion on generational trauma, religion vs. culture and balancing your own desires with cultural- and parental expectations. In addition we have LGBTQ representation (which is wonderful, as it is in all Podos’ work), discussion on bodily autonomy, perfectionism, (academic) pressure and much more. Combine all that with the fantastic sibling-relationship dynamic between Gabe and Hannah, and a good helping of supportive friendship and non-cringy budding romance along the way, and you have an absolute winner of a novel. In short: From Dust a Flame is YA contemporary-fantasy in its finest form, that I won’t be likely to forget soon.

  5. 4 out of 5

    charlotte,

    reviewed on instagram Rep: Jewish sapphic mc, Jewish lesbian li, gay character with ADHD, Black Jewish side character, nonbinary side character reviewed on instagram Rep: Jewish sapphic mc, Jewish lesbian li, gay character with ADHD, Black Jewish side character, nonbinary side character

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elle

    don’t know what this is about!!!!! adding anyways cause it’s pretty!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alaina

    From Dust, a Flame was a magical book to jump into. Even though I knew next to nothing about this book before diving into it, I was very excited to see what was within. Luckily, for me, this book did not disappoint one freaking bit. From the characters to the secrets, I was completely hooked. Especially after meeting Hannah and Gabe. I seriously enjoyed their sibling dynamic so much. If I could, I would want them to be in my family. As for finding out about a secret family? Well, that hit a litt From Dust, a Flame was a magical book to jump into. Even though I knew next to nothing about this book before diving into it, I was very excited to see what was within. Luckily, for me, this book did not disappoint one freaking bit. From the characters to the secrets, I was completely hooked. Especially after meeting Hannah and Gabe. I seriously enjoyed their sibling dynamic so much. If I could, I would want them to be in my family. As for finding out about a secret family? Well, that hit a little too close to home. Other than that, I really enjoyed going through two timeframes throughout this. Mostly because we would be missing out on so much information if we didn't get both the past and present. Especially when you are dealing with three generations of a single family. So, in other words, everything meshed really well together, and I never found myself confused or bored. In the end, I just really enjoyed the representation in this book. Okay, if I'm being honest here, I enjoyed every second of listening to this audiobook. It gave me all the feels and I wasn't disappointed one bit.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Vee_Bookish

    Despite the quite frankly terrible cover, this love letter to the weight of Jewish history was so much better than I anticipated. Although Hannah wakes up with different coloured eyes, then spines, then a tail, the story was less about that and more about her and her brother Gabe finding their family and discovering their mother's secrets. This was such a comforting story. Despite the quite frankly terrible cover, this love letter to the weight of Jewish history was so much better than I anticipated. Although Hannah wakes up with different coloured eyes, then spines, then a tail, the story was less about that and more about her and her brother Gabe finding their family and discovering their mother's secrets. This was such a comforting story.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brianna

    4.5 Thank you so much to Netgalley and Rebecca Podos for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review! “Judaism is more than religion, you know. More even than ritual and tradition. It’s family… We are all the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca, and Leah. We are all united by the actions and sacrifices and the covenant of our ancestors. We were all born into the ancient story of our people, which still unfolds today. Know this, and everything else 4.5 Thank you so much to Netgalley and Rebecca Podos for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review! “Judaism is more than religion, you know. More even than ritual and tradition. It’s family… We are all the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca, and Leah. We are all united by the actions and sacrifices and the covenant of our ancestors. We were all born into the ancient story of our people, which still unfolds today. Know this, and everything else can be learned.” A riveting and layered YA sapphic fantasy filled to the brim with Jewish folklore and history. This is a story about family, identity, isolation, truth, and culture. But most importantly, this is a story about stories. And how important it is to know your own. This book wonderfully discusses the danger of repressing your burdens and the importance of openly sharing familial history and culture. By displaying the timelines of three descending generations of women and illustrating the trauma they endure, the fear they live by, and the burdens they carry (physical and conceptual), this book is able to demonstrate the effects of generational trauma. It shows how the weight we carry from our ancestors is not chosen, but lives in us regardless, and that we must pass down our culture and our stories and our knowledge because that is how cycles are broken and damage can be confronted. It also portrays the feelings of isolation one can feel when cut off from their loved ones through forced distance, through fear, and through lack of communication and the trauma and loss that can occur when one isn't connected with their family. My favorite part of this work was how jam-packed it is with Jewish stories and mythology. It offers up a conversation about the way stories literally and metaphorically weave and influence our history and culture. It asks us to question what we accept as truth and what could be possible. Something about the way this book is written made me genuinely believe in its lore. It encourages an open mind and a willingness to learn, and now I can’t wait to go pick up some non-fiction books about Jewish lore to gain even more knowledge about my own culture. Additionally, I just love Gabe. He’s the best older brother of all time. TW: underage drinking, blood, parental abandonment, death of family members (grandmother to MC during plot of book offscreen, other family members in flashback mention), grief, discussion and portrayal of WWII/The Holocaust, anti-semitism (theme), death by starvation (offscreen, mention), child death (mention), injury, violence, confinement, kidnapping

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

    *Spoiler free, 4.5 stars* I'm not sure what drew me to this book. It might have been the title, it might have been the cover, both of which are amazing. And it sounded really, really good. A girl who has spent her entire life moving wakes up one day to find herself with eyes with knife slit pupils, and through this, discovers a history she didn't even know she had. It sounded really, really good, and I was very intrigued. This book is so, so good. There are so many wows about it. The writing is one *Spoiler free, 4.5 stars* I'm not sure what drew me to this book. It might have been the title, it might have been the cover, both of which are amazing. And it sounded really, really good. A girl who has spent her entire life moving wakes up one day to find herself with eyes with knife slit pupils, and through this, discovers a history she didn't even know she had. It sounded really, really good, and I was very intrigued. This book is so, so good. There are so many wows about it. The writing is one of the things I loved most about it. It's hard to describe, but it's just GOOD. It feels comforting in way, and I know that's weird, but it's true. It took hurt and pain and so much emotion and wrapped it up in love. This is a book about stories, stories within stories within stories. It's a tale that travels through generations, three stories unfolding at once, and the pain that ripples across them, but also the love that is cemented into every action. The way that this book three generations, three people, and wove their stories together into one, highlighted their connection, was truly wonderful. The parallels and how it was crafted was truly top notch. Hannah is the main character, but the others still felt like fully fleshed out, real people. I felt like they got their own stories, even as they were being told within the overarching plot. And for me, that's a big thing! I'm usually not a fan of these types of interwoven plots. And this one was one of my favorite things about the book! The familial love was another thing I loved. It's not an easy familial love. There is so much deep rooted pain, and it's a lot to grapple with. The relationships aren't always steady, but that's part of the beauty of it. The messy, complicated relationships, and the messy, complicated feelings. And the love that runs underneath everything, because they truly do love each other. It's a book with that kind of love at it's heart, and the hard decisions that sometimes comes with it, but how they love is still there regardless. And the sibling relationship, oh my gosh. I love Gabe so much. He is amazing, and I want a Gabe book. This book is also super queer! There is a f/f relationship and I love it a whole lot! It discussed sexuality subtly, which I thought was amazing. It's not the biggest thing going on, but it's still there. This book is also extremely Jewish. It discusses faith, belief, and Jewish myths. Hannah grapples with her faith and the identity that she didn't even know she had. I can't comment on it other than it was there, but I did want to mention it because it's what this book is all about.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    It's not you, it's me. It's not you, it's me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Star

    Content warnings: body changes due to magic (growing gills, a tail due to a curse), grief (depiction, ongoing theme), underage drinking, blood, parental abandonment, emotionally absent parent, death of family members (all off-page), WWII/Holocaust mentions, anti-Semitism (theme), death by starvation (off page, elderly person), injury, violence, confinement, and kidnapping. Rep: So much Jewish goodness! Everyone is Jewish and it's awesome! Hannah is queer (discovering), Gabe is gay and also adopte Content warnings: body changes due to magic (growing gills, a tail due to a curse), grief (depiction, ongoing theme), underage drinking, blood, parental abandonment, emotionally absent parent, death of family members (all off-page), WWII/Holocaust mentions, anti-Semitism (theme), death by starvation (off page, elderly person), injury, violence, confinement, and kidnapping. Rep: So much Jewish goodness! Everyone is Jewish and it's awesome! Hannah is queer (discovering), Gabe is gay and also adopted, Ari is lesbian, non-binary side character, Black Jewish side character. This has, hands down, some of the best family dynamics I've read for a while. Hannah and Gabe live with their mum, Malka, who has moved them across the country (USA) very frequently during their childhood. On the morning of her 17th birthday, Hannah wakes up with snake eyes, then the next day, wolf fangs. Hannah, and her brother Gabe, expect their mum to help, or take Hannah to the doctors, not for her to leave, saying she'll be back in a few days. Days turn into weeks, and after receiving a letter saying that their grandmother they never knew, had passed away, they find themselves heading to Fox Hollow, New York to try and find their mum, and some answers. As Gabe said it "we have insta-family" and it was so lovely to read about. Hannah and Gabe didn't know they came from a long, proud lineage of Jewish people, and it was such a beautiful thing to read about. I absolutely loved the slow discovery of their Jewish faith, family, and life. There was a wonderfully written, slow, soft exploration of Hannah realising that she is also attracted to girls when she meets Ari. Their friendship blossoms, and turns into such a lovely relationship. While it isn't the main focus of the book (it is a significantly small part of the book), it fit in so seamlessly. Hannah, who has longed for family and stability, fits right in at Fox Hollow. The chapters where we went back into the perspective of 1990s Fox Hollow when Malka was a teenager really gave such depth and insight into what Hannah and Gabe's mum was like, and an insight into the mystery. This is, already, one of my favourite books of April, and I am so glad I picked this one up as an audio from my local library. (view spoiler)[I need to just make a note of how absolutely amazing Gabe is. Not only does he tattoo and pierce himself to match some of Hannah's mutations, but he just rolls with it. He's going to have those tattoos forever, even though Hannah's curse ended. I just. This kid? I love him so much. He needs a big hug and I love him so much. (hide spoiler)] 5/5 stars Bookish links: Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / Blog

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lexie

    This novel had really good Jewish and LGBT representation. I was hooked in the beginning, but as the novel went on I felt less and less interested. I still really enjoyed it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sasha

    jewish sapphics let's gooo i can't fucking wait jewish sapphics let's gooo i can't fucking wait

  15. 4 out of 5

    Zev

    What a beautiful cover! I was so, so excited to find a book based in Jewish folklore and mysticism. What a creative premise. I was really hoping to see myself in this. I did, but not--it wasn't exactly how I expected, and that's totally fine. These are three stories in one. This is a tricky device to pull off. "Holes" by Loius Sachar, did an amazing job. Here...this book had to work for it, and it didn't always succeed as the story went on. Too much of a good thing, in this case. The book dragge What a beautiful cover! I was so, so excited to find a book based in Jewish folklore and mysticism. What a creative premise. I was really hoping to see myself in this. I did, but not--it wasn't exactly how I expected, and that's totally fine. These are three stories in one. This is a tricky device to pull off. "Holes" by Loius Sachar, did an amazing job. Here...this book had to work for it, and it didn't always succeed as the story went on. Too much of a good thing, in this case. The book dragged as the pages went on. The family tree at the beginning was pointless, and while lots of family is mentioned, it felt like a list of names was being rattled off to show that families were large decades ago. There's no sense of really knowing anyone outside of the three main characters. Gabe's changing style didn't come across as organic, and I was annoyed. It felt like, "wink wink, nudge, nudge, here's some Queer signifiers for the gaaaaay brother who is of course a theatre nerd." With Ari, her name alone is a signifier. It's a somewhat unusual name for someone feminine, but her mom calls her Arielle and I suddenly understood. -Her- signifiers, style, and way of expressing herself was a -lot- smoother, more convincing, and more organic. Why was the stuff about Shoah in there? I didn't--it seemed--why? This is a story about Jewish demons and mythology. Is it just expected in literature now to ram mentions of genocides in? Because if it is, can we fucking lay off one of the most famous ones and go to others? There have been plenty! Spain in 1492! England! Eastern Europe! Heartless of me to be doing this, but IT'S OVERUSED. People died. I'm not denying the tragedy, the long-reaching affects, and how it still shapes today but CAN LITERATURE SHUT UP ABOUT IT FOR TWO SECONDS?! ESPECIALLY WHEN IT HAS -NOTHING- TO DO WITH THIS PARTICULAR STORY. A real-life tragedy that we still live in the shadow of has become fucking set dressing in any work that mentions Jewish people I've read for the past couple years, and -tired- and -old- set dressing, at that. RRGH.. Malka's mother is an enormous stereotype, as is the father in sooo many different ways. Her sisters are underdeveloped. Why are there multiple ones, then, if the author's not going to flesh them out or do anything with them? How am I supposed to believe Siman and Malka are in love, if it's entirely expressed in stares? Tons of plot points are underdeveloped and rammed in, with an undercurrent of subplots that drove me nuts because the author did nothing with them. The book's ending was nothing. It screamed "this is totes gonna be a series, guys! Totes, totes!" and then I look it up and there's not an indication I could find. In "People Love Dead Jews" by Dara Horn, she talks at one point about how Western books are written. Clear arcs and clean, definite endings unless it's part of a series. Several Jewish-written stories have endings that...are not. They could be considered weak unless you're watching for them to evolve a certain way, and I learned a lot from that paragraph. This book was not an example of that at ALL. The mom is immediately missing and has fled or whatever. It's that way the entire book, and made me feel like her character was pointless. The structural choices this book made had me feeling that several passages were a waste of time, and I instantly predicted the cliche of Hannah's father. Make it mean something, author. I wanted to absolutely adore this book. It got me following Throwing Sheyd on twitter, and for that, I am so excited, but--there was a lot of missed opportunity and fumbled choices in this book. If it does wind up a series, I will read all of them to just try and figure out this first book in context. I'm so glad to read a fiction book about and for Jewish people, and centering on Jewish demons and mythology, at that! I didn't think I'd find one in my lifetime, let alone that was indeed engaging even if it had structural and character problems. I wish Podos success and a few series.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emi Cohen

    This book has it all— intergenerational trauma, lesbians, and the obligatory golem/Gollum joke. BUT IN ALL SERIOUSNESS: we are living through a golden age of queer Jewish YA fantasy novels right now, and I am so grateful that I'm here to witness it. From Dust, a Flame is one of those books that feels like healing. It perfectly captures so many things about mothers and daughters, about Jewishness, and about magic, and I will be recommending it to every single person I talk to for the next four t This book has it all— intergenerational trauma, lesbians, and the obligatory golem/Gollum joke. BUT IN ALL SERIOUSNESS: we are living through a golden age of queer Jewish YA fantasy novels right now, and I am so grateful that I'm here to witness it. From Dust, a Flame is one of those books that feels like healing. It perfectly captures so many things about mothers and daughters, about Jewishness, and about magic, and I will be recommending it to every single person I talk to for the next four to six weeks. (side note: i made it all the way to page 364 without getting choked up and i am very proud of myself for that)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lilli (LitbyLilli)

    Thank you @balzerandbray for my #gifted copy. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🔥 genre: YA fantasy 🖊 author: Rebecca Podos 📚 format: physical book 📖 read if you like: coming-of-age novels, sapphic romance, The City Beautiful, Jewish rep, golems Thoughts: So I didn’t know much about this book before picking it up, and oh my, did I go on a fun ride. Hannah’s mom has kept her and her brother Gabe constantly moving. But on her 17th birthday, that changes. Hannah wakes up with golden eyes, and her mom, determined to find someone Thank you @balzerandbray for my #gifted copy. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🔥 genre: YA fantasy 🖊 author: Rebecca Podos 📚 format: physical book 📖 read if you like: coming-of-age novels, sapphic romance, The City Beautiful, Jewish rep, golems Thoughts: So I didn’t know much about this book before picking it up, and oh my, did I go on a fun ride. Hannah’s mom has kept her and her brother Gabe constantly moving. But on her 17th birthday, that changes. Hannah wakes up with golden eyes, and her mom, determined to find someone to help, disappears. When their mom doesn’t return and they learn that their maternal grandmother has died, Hannah and Gabe decide to visit the family they’ve never met. When the two arrive at their grandparents, things take a turn for the weirder. The deeper they dig into family secrets, the more they realize their lives could be at stake. The first part of the book is “slow,” and I have quotation marks because it didn’t feel slow. But there’s a lot of setting up that Podos has to do. I really liked that nothing felt super rushed and loved how the plot unfolded.

  18. 4 out of 5

    sarah

    I have no words other than I fell in love and I loved this so much and I need everyone to read it now BUT full review coming soon

  19. 5 out of 5

    Madison

    From Dust, A Flame is Jewish-legend inspired paranormal, historical, mystery YA fiction genre-mash-up that is as entrancing as it is unique. A slow and confusing beginning had me questioning why I had picked this book up and checking the synopsis to make sure I had the right book. But by a quarter of the way in I was hooked. It’s a great book, strong characters, a strong sense of identity and unique. It’s also rooted in legends and mythology that is not often brought to the page - and it’s about From Dust, A Flame is Jewish-legend inspired paranormal, historical, mystery YA fiction genre-mash-up that is as entrancing as it is unique. A slow and confusing beginning had me questioning why I had picked this book up and checking the synopsis to make sure I had the right book. But by a quarter of the way in I was hooked. It’s a great book, strong characters, a strong sense of identity and unique. It’s also rooted in legends and mythology that is not often brought to the page - and it’s about time it was. When Hannah wakes up one morning to discover that her eyes have changed shape and colour, it’s just the beginning of a living nightmare. Every night she falls asleep and every morning she awakes with a new and strange physical transformation. Her mother promises answers, but when she leaves and is not heard from again, Hannah and her bother know they must find their own solution. They journey to their mother’s home to meet the family they had never even heard of before. There, they discover a tale from history that would be hard to believe if they had not seen the strange changes that are taking over Hannah’s body. If they can piece together the clues they might be able to save their family. From Dust, A Flame is a genre mash-up, part historical fiction, part mystery and part paranormal. Diverse characters, unique fantasy. There is a lot to enjoy about this book. Once I got my head around the plot and we got through the setting up of the story, it was compelling reading. Gender identity, belonging, family, mother-daughter relationships, history, trauma from the Holocaust - there are so many themes woven seamlessly into this story. You could easily have an entire story on just one and yet they all fit so well into this complex story and none of them detract, only add to, the mystery and magic of the plot. I particularly enjoyed Hannah’s relationship with her brother, who is her support. They make a great team. And when Ari joins them in their quest, she brings an insider’s knowledge to this world that Hannah and Gabe have stumbled into, as well as a love interest for Hannah. A perfect addition to any library shelf or TBR pile - just good luck trying to figure out what genre to put in under. The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own. Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ruthie

    I loved the Jewish Folklore and I was particularly intrigued by the demons. I don't think I was fully understanding everything including what the different timelines were showing us until the end. But, that's ok, I still really enjoyed the ride. Loved seeing some Jewish Folklore I recognized and a lot that I didn't. This is my first book by Rebecca Podos but, it won't be my last. I loved the Jewish Folklore and I was particularly intrigued by the demons. I don't think I was fully understanding everything including what the different timelines were showing us until the end. But, that's ok, I still really enjoyed the ride. Loved seeing some Jewish Folklore I recognized and a lot that I didn't. This is my first book by Rebecca Podos but, it won't be my last.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hw

    Actual Rating 2.5/5 Genres: Fantasy, Mythological, drama sub-genres: women’s fiction, romance, action Central conflict:person vs supernatural Synopsis: The novel follows a girl name Hannah who suffers from low self esteem and struggles to get the attention of her mother. One day she is afflicted with a curse that manipulates her body into a different animal every night. Her mother promises her that she will come back and never does… Hannah and her adoptive older brother, Gabe find a letter that Actual Rating 2.5/5 Genres: Fantasy, Mythological, drama sub-genres: women’s fiction, romance, action Central conflict:person vs supernatural Synopsis: The novel follows a girl name Hannah who suffers from low self esteem and struggles to get the attention of her mother. One day she is afflicted with a curse that manipulates her body into a different animal every night. Her mother promises her that she will come back and never does… Hannah and her adoptive older brother, Gabe find a letter that connects them to Hannah’s Jewish heritage- a call to action. Main Theme: Running away from one's problems and never addressing them hurts the people around you not just yourself. Warning: mild spoilers (not ending spoilers) This is the first work I’ve ever read from Podos and was told that the book had critically acclaimed reviews/awards- understandably my expectations were high. However, I think these expectations were not met and left me disappointed. The book tackled generational trauma and Jewish history with a mystical element more palatable for a younger audience. I think this book spoke to many younger teens who could relate to Hannah. Those who seek different facets to gain validation (Hannah's shard of glass). However, Hannah felt like a flat character. In fact most of the characters felt devoid of any real personality instead they were stereotypes and caricatures. Hannah is the disaster bi, Gabe is theater kid, and Ari is the brooding “not like other girls” girl. I thought the book was going to subvert these expectations and develop these characters beyond these stereotypes but the novel never attempts to get out of its own comfort zone. On the topic of comfort zones I also disliked how the setting was stuck in one place. I originally jumped into this novel thinking Hannah and Gabe were going to travel around and piece by piece learn how to use Hannah’s curse as a gift. I can acknowledge that my review could be biased because I was expecting something else however, the novel felt like it was being set up for this grand adventure and mystery. Instead, Podos did not expand beyond the world-building of Hannah’s world- consequently making the novel feel stationary and boring. There is no sense of progression because of the setting because of this there is not much idea of tension or how much time Hannah and Gabe were spending at Fox Hollow. Instead, every day that progresses in the novel followed the same formula- Hannah and Gabe get a small snippet of information and then cuts to a flashback-repeat that formula for the entirety of the novel making it feel repetitive and boring. The setup took too long to build that the stakes no longer felt important. Other more nit-picky stuff: Podos did not use the advantages of the fantasy genre to create something exciting. Instead, Hannah’s curse was not used as creatively as I thought it would be and at some points, it feels like Podos forget Hannah even had an extra limb or appendage. Hannah’s curse as a symbol could have been pushed further. The message of embracing one's flaw could have applied to Hannah's curse however, Hannah’s curse is simply just a curse. Half the time the reader forgets about the curse and Hannah doesn’t even do anything with her curse. It would have been much more fun if Hannah’s wings could make her fly, fins for swimming, or the ram horns giving her more strength. But maybe that’s just the part of me that wanted a fantasy action book. Hannah and Malka’s relationship is complicated in fact most of the relationships in the novel are the driving force of the narrative. However, the book does not nearly go into enough detail about how these relationships mend themselves over time- instead, it was just one argument and all of a sudden years of pain is poof gone. Instead of dragging out the first half of the novel (which pretty much goes over the synopsis and felt redundant), there should be more emphasis on characters and relationships. Most of the relationship conflicts in the novel are solved with an argument and then a simple sorry and “I love you”. The book felt like it was using generational trauma to enable the toxic behavior illustrated in the book which I know was not Podos’ intention but an issue of pacing. I think one thing Podos needs to realize is that a book can be YA without trying too hard to be “cool with the kids”. It felt forcibly “woke” by shoehorning every character to be part of the LGBTQ+ community yet not discussing the complications of religion. There is nothing wrong with having an entire cast of characters be part of the LGBTQ+ community. In fact it’s overdue because of how many books have purely straight relationships. However, most of the characters feel like their personality is boiled down to being gay. This is not what real representation looks like. There is also an instance where Hannah shuts down the potential conversation by generalizing the entire religion as “Technically, Jews don’t believe in hell anyway.” Yet Rabbi HaLevi says “Jews may not believe in the afterlife—heaven and hell—but Judaism unequivocally does” https://www.jewishboston.com/read/ive.... This did not feel like real representation as Galan from The State press writes, “Filmmakers have to be responsible for what they put out there. Characters who are only tokens for filmmakers matter to a lot of people and contribute to the misrepresentation of entire races, genders, and communities” https://www.statepress.com/article/20.... More strict denominations of the Jewish faith see homosexuality as a sin and can be prescribed with the death penalty. I would like to preface this that I am not Jewish and I do not want to speak over Jewish voices however, I think it could be important to unpack the nuance of Judaism and sects. The novel as a whole felt like a corporate marketer was trying to make a book to appeal to the younger generation. This did not help with the inclusion of forced dialogue. Podos’ strong point is definitely her imaginative description and flowery language. However, having the dialogue this weak and forced created a more noticeable contrast. Take this instance as an example, “Just the four-year-old in a princess dress who wandered off at the Fox Hollow Memorial parade, then had to ride around the town green on the 4-H float while they called out her parents by name through a bullhorn, because of course everyone knew who she was”. “Oof”, Gabe contributes from the back. The flow and delivery is choppy- what teen actually talks like this? As a Gen Z myself my best advice for the author is to be more herself. Podos proved her writing capabilities with her attention to detail- YA books do not need to be hip or cool to try and bridge generational gaps with the audience. Make the audience accommodate to your writing. The payoff was not as satisfying. I did not feel like the characters learned something beyond themselves. The ending was rushed and mainly too coincidental how Hannah was able to defeat the main villain. Speaking of the main villain I wonder if it was intentional but the villain did not feel creative or even all that evil. The characterization of the villain is pitiful and a parallel to Hannah- someone who just wanted love and validation. Whether the Villain was supposed to be a bigger symbol of the consequences for those that seek validation from others it does not excuse with how anti-climatic the reveal was. For a twist villain it did not deliver nor was it menacing and create a real sense of danger or threat. In conclusion I would only recommend this book to a more younger audience (pre-teens) and would caution others that the book may not be what they expected it to be.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Starr ❇✌❇

    I received an ARC from Edelweiss 3.8 Hannah's mother has never been the most forthright person- she moves them as often as she can, she never talks about her family, and there's not much anyone can do to change that. But she's never disappeared before. Though, Hannah's never woken up a monster before either. After Hannah's 17th birthday, her body starts transforming, and her mother runs off to find a mysterious healer. There's nothing for Hannah and her brother to do but wait- until an obituary fo I received an ARC from Edelweiss 3.8 Hannah's mother has never been the most forthright person- she moves them as often as she can, she never talks about her family, and there's not much anyone can do to change that. But she's never disappeared before. Though, Hannah's never woken up a monster before either. After Hannah's 17th birthday, her body starts transforming, and her mother runs off to find a mysterious healer. There's nothing for Hannah and her brother to do but wait- until an obituary for a grandmother they didn't even know about arrives in the mail. Could their mother be with this newfound family? And, if not, could there at least be answers there? This story plays with some classic YA tropes while also feeling very unique. I love the family dynamics in this story. Finding hidden/secret family isn't a new concept, but I love the way it's done here, particularly taking in the Jewish faith. I also really, really adored the sibling dynamic between Hannah and Gabe, which was cute and realistic. This book takes place at two different times, with an extra story weaving through the past as well, and it hits each other those settings with care and bring light to them. The historical moments feel so emotional and honest, and they carry over into both of the other stories as well, bringing understanding upon understanding like a matryoshka doll. There is a softness as well as a twistiness, keeping things falling together in a way that makes the picture slowly clearer. The romance in this was also surprisingly sweet. I loved the two different points of self exploration/discovery for Hannah, and the cute moments she's given in between the drama and mystery of it all. I will say, I expected more of the golem. I enjoyed them- and their neutral pronoun- and I can see the metaphorical importance, but I wanted more plot importance as well. I was also disappointed in the standard, flat Big Bad Guy feeling of the antagonist. I wanted more depth, and instead he wound up feeling cartoonish to me. Over all, this is a fun Jewish fantasy! The characters are great, and Podos nails the atmosphere.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachael Telford

    This was a little slow for me to get into, but I really got into it in the second half. The teen characters felt very realistic.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    I really wanted to absolutely fall in love with this one (I have an inclination for books with Jewish characters and culture, and any book that quotes R. Huna is going to automatically have me dancing in my seat a bit) but it just...didn't gel for me. The writing was great, the relationship between Hannah and Gabe was beautifully done, and I loved the way that the story was based on lesser known Jewish mythology. But I didn't really feel like the story connected for me emotionally, and I was let I really wanted to absolutely fall in love with this one (I have an inclination for books with Jewish characters and culture, and any book that quotes R. Huna is going to automatically have me dancing in my seat a bit) but it just...didn't gel for me. The writing was great, the relationship between Hannah and Gabe was beautifully done, and I loved the way that the story was based on lesser known Jewish mythology. But I didn't really feel like the story connected for me emotionally, and I was let down a bit by the secondary characters - it didn't seem that there was much differentiation among the the family especially, which made it hard to feel like an effective coming home/reunion/relationship building story - and the golem element felt somewhat underbaked. There were also a couple of nitpicks in terms of Jewish stuff - non-family members pay shiva calls rather than sitting shiva, the Hebrew was backward in every instance, you wouldn't say "in the same Talmud" but instead something like "in the same tractate" or "on the same daf," plus it was pretty hard to pinpoint the Eggers family religiously/denominationally when they were seemingly Conservative but the non-Malka daughters were always in long skirts and everyone was going to Stern, a distinctly Orthodox/Modern Orthodox school - but more than anything I was confused by the setting, which felt very atmospheric and fitting for the story but didn't read in a way that made sense to me from a Jewish perspective (a kosher bakery in some random upstate town?? Are you paying the ashgiach to live there?). Overall, it's a good book, but missed greatness for me - perhaps because of a lack of expectation management? Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the eARC.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Izzys_Internet_Bookshelf

    1/5 Thought out the book I was waiting for it to get interesting for me but it never did. I just kept reading til it was over.

  26. 5 out of 5

    USOM

    (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) I've been excited for From Dust, a Flame since I heard about it. Rebecca is one of my favorite authors so this has been highly anticipated for a while. First of all, I love a driven academically focused MC and Hannah definitely is! She gave me some major flashbacks to me as a teen. Secondly, I adored the sibling relationship she had with Gabe. The ways their relationship unfolds a (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) I've been excited for From Dust, a Flame since I heard about it. Rebecca is one of my favorite authors so this has been highly anticipated for a while. First of all, I love a driven academically focused MC and Hannah definitely is! She gave me some major flashbacks to me as a teen. Secondly, I adored the sibling relationship she had with Gabe. The ways their relationship unfolds and the secrets and ways that each of them know each other. All the promises one makes, the unsaid silences, and the ways they know how to hurt each other. But From Dust, a Flame is about family. It's about unraveling the secrets and mysteries of the past. All the ways we try to protect our loved ones from harsh truths, jagged memories, and past trauma. So each subsequent generation undergoes a quest to uncover the roots of their tree. To figure out the mistakes of their parents and the ways they pass down to each other. With chapters from the past, Podos weaves a story about family and the echoes of the past. How they ripple towards us and move us in the currents without even knowing. full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bridget Hodder

    This one is amazing. It hits all my favorite YA notes: family entanglement, mystery, history, Jewishness and a rich swirl of magic. A deeply felt story for fans of SPINNING SILVER.

  28. 4 out of 5

    ☀︎El In Oz☀︎

    Edit: oh the title changed. I liked the old one better but this one isn’t awful. I mean it doesn’t make sense but it’s okay Interesting...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

    (2.5 stars) I’ve never read a book based on Jewish mythology before, but it doesn’t seem to be my cup of tea. I’ve read a good assortment of different mythos—I’m just picky about it. I’m atheist, so maybe it was the underlying religion that lost my interest, but I can acknowledge that Judaism itself is objectively fascinating. Hannah was… annoying. Female characters with confidence issues have become normal if not expected, but to me her issues came across in the most selfish way possible. Her rela (2.5 stars) I’ve never read a book based on Jewish mythology before, but it doesn’t seem to be my cup of tea. I’ve read a good assortment of different mythos—I’m just picky about it. I’m atheist, so maybe it was the underlying religion that lost my interest, but I can acknowledge that Judaism itself is objectively fascinating. Hannah was… annoying. Female characters with confidence issues have become normal if not expected, but to me her issues came across in the most selfish way possible. Her relationship with another character, while sweet, was steeped in “I’m not good enough” the whoooole time. I liked the LGBT representation, but there was pretty much no racial diversity—maybe I should have expected that with a Jewish book, but again, this is new territory for me. Also, it seemed weird that all three main characters of a religiously-rooted book were fruity. Perhaps I’m just used to the homophobia of Christianity. The plot wasn’t great. I didn’t expect two perspectives, much less three, and I can’t say I LOVED any of the POV’s. Most of the plot points were super frustrating. The villain and conflict were suitably malevolent but failed to really keep my attention. The ending was tidy, but this book just wasn’t my jam. Podos wrote an unusual book about a topic that deserves more attention, but sapphic Judaism isn’t for me.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Beth Mendelsohn

    Thank you to Balzer + Bray and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Hannah and older brother, Gabe, live with their mother, Malka, and are constantly moving from home rental to home rental. That is, until Hannah finds a school she really likes and will help her get ready for college in Boston. They have lived there for two years, longer than anywhere else. On the morning of Hannah’s 17th birthday, she wakes up with gold snake-like eyes. Her mother do Thank you to Balzer + Bray and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Hannah and older brother, Gabe, live with their mother, Malka, and are constantly moving from home rental to home rental. That is, until Hannah finds a school she really likes and will help her get ready for college in Boston. They have lived there for two years, longer than anywhere else. On the morning of Hannah’s 17th birthday, she wakes up with gold snake-like eyes. Her mother doesn’t seem to be surprised by the transformation and tells Hannah and Gabe that she knows a special healer who can help. Malka says she’ll only be gone a few days. As the days turn into weeks and months, Hannah awakes each morning with different monstrous characteristics. One day, Hannah gets a mysterious envelope in the mail with an obituary for the grandmother they never knew they had. Gabe and Hannah decide to travel to New York for their grandmother’s shiva, the Jewish period of mourning, and to learn about their family and, hopefully, find a cure for Hannah’s curse. There are not a plethora of Jewish mysticism and fantasy books out there so when I heard about this one, I pounced. I grew up reading Judy Blume and Chaim Potok as my source of Jewish stories. Now granted, this story could not have been told in the 80’s, but even now, you would be hard pressed to find one that works. Though mostly told from Hannah’s POV, there are a few flashback chapters about Malka when she was Hannah’s age as well as Jitka’s, the grandmother, life in Czechoslovakia just before she leaves on the Kindertransport to escape the Nazis. The characters are well developed and we see Hannah has some time to develop a romantic relationship with new friend Ari (female). I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it for grade 9 and up. #FromDustAFlame #NetGalley

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