By: Liana Gardner
Publisher: Vesuvian Books
Publication Date: October 3, 2023
Review Date: June 6, 2023
Can a young girl find her way through grief and against powerful enemies with the strength of family ties and friendship? We'll find out in Rain Falling on Embers by Liana Gardner.
We follow the story of thirteen-year-old Katie McCabe. Known for her troublemaking tendencies, Katie is sent to live with her Uncle Charlie in a small farm town after her father, Sheriff McCabe, falls ill. With hopes of finding stability and positive influences, Katie's father believes that her cousin Sarah can serve as a role model. From the moment Katie arrives, she clashes with Denton, an ill-mannered boy and the son of a powerful local figure. When Denton insults Katie's family, she retaliates by punching him. It is during this encounter that she meets Logan, an older boy who becomes a source of support and the object of her growing affection. As Katie starts to adjust to her new surroundings, tragedy strikes when she receives the devastating news of her father's untimely death, leaving Uncle Charlie as her legal guardian.
While still coping with grief, Katie finds herself embroiled in a series of school mishaps, including taking the blame for class disruptions and also being falsely accused of stealing a geometry test. She is framed for theft by Denton and Emma, a two-faced girl who has a crush on Logan. Feeling betrayed by her own family's lack of trust, Katie decides to take matters into her own hands. She plans revenge on Denton and Emma by setting traps in their lockers, which is when she discovers a note incriminating the pair. However, her revenge plot takes a dark turn...
Rain Falling on Embers is a coming-of-age story that deals with grief, personal tragedy, and the yearning for trust from family. Through the character of Katie McCabe, I found that the author created a realistic teenager, from the way Katie pretended to be rude thinking that it would make her unlikable and then Uncle Charlie would send her back to her father, to the way she started putting shaving cream traps in lockers in the hopes of exacting revenge. The protagonist is relatable and, though initially frustrating, she gradually becomes endearing, making it impossible not to root for her. Despite the themes, this book offers an effortless reading experience with a straightforward plot. The pacing is slow as the majority of the narrative is focused on the setup of the character dynamics and the main action only happens around the last quarter of the story and then ends in a cliffhanger. This is understandable though considering that this book seems to be the start of a series. It makes me curious about the sequel, the story behind why Katie's father left that town, and what else will happen to the McCabes in this fight for justice against the son of the man who practically owns the town.
Quill says: Rain Falling on Embers is an intriguing start of a series about a young girl and her journey as she navigates personal loss, a new family, and even newer enemies.
To learn more about Rain Falling on Embers (Katie McCabe Book 1), please visit the author’s website at: https://lianagardner.com/middle-grade/katie-mccabe-series/rain-falling-on-embers/