Liberty’s Fire by Lydia Syson – Guest review + GIVEAWAY | Queer YA Scrabble

Queer YA Scrabble


I’m delighted to welcome Julia Ember to Queer YA to talk to us about Liberty’s Fire by Lydia Syson!


I’m so excited to be here as Caroline’s guest, talking about Lydia Syson’s brand new book: Liberty’s Fire, a historical romance set in Paris after Napoleon’s fall.


Paris, 1871. Four young people will rewrite their destinies. Paris is in revolt. After months of siege at the hands of the Prussians, a wind of change is blowing through the city, bringing with it murmurs of a new revolution. Alone and poverty-stricken, sixteen-year-old Zephyrine is quickly lured in by the ideals of the city’s radical new government, and she finds herself swept away by its promises of freedom, hope, equality and rights for women. But she is about to fall in love for a second time, following a fateful encounter with a young violinist. Anatole’s passion for his music is soon swiftly matched only by his passion for this fierce and magnificent girl. He comes to believe in Zephyrine’s new politics – but his friends are not so sure. Opera-singer Marie and photographer Jules have desires of their own, and the harsh reality of life under the Commune is not quite as enticing for them as it seems to be for Anatole and Zephyrine. And when the violent reality of revolution comes crashing down at all their feet, can they face the danger together – or will they be forced to choose where their hearts really lie?


Historical novels can either be magical or soul destroying for me. In the days before I decided Academia wasn’t for me (although, I retain a penchant for Tweed), I was doing a Literature PhD and had an absolute fascination with this time period. So much of my enjoyment depends on the author’s ability to authentically capture the essence of the historical period. Lydia Syson absolutely delivered.
I felt that she really captured the feelings of elation in Paris at Napolean’s rise as well as the feelings of betrayal, of being sold out by their own countrymen, in the episodes that followed the Prussian invasion. Syson writes beautiful, lyrical and evocative prose and she describes the Paris of the time with so much detail. I was lost in her world and the bittersweet history of it.
Although the story follows four characters closely, the most focus is given Zephyrine, which I loved, since she is such a relatable, heartbreaking protagonist. After her grandmother dies and leaves her alone in a harsh city with bills to pay and no way to feed herself, Zephyrine struggles to forge a place for herself while getting involved with Parisian politics. 
The only part of the book I wasn’t satisfied with was the ending. It came too soon! It left too much unresolved! That being said, I definitely understanding why Syson ended the novel the way she did. I wholeheartedly recommend this – and I’m so glad I got to read it as part of Queer YA Scrabble!
Liberty’s Fire came out last month in the UK and the publisher has sent two additional paperback copies of the novel, which can be won exclusively through! Just comment on the post below and tweet about the giveaway and I’ll pick winners at the end of the week!
Fine print: UK + Ireland only and ends on Friday 12th June.
Add this book to your shelves on Goodreads or buy it from Amazon UKHive or Gay’s The Word!
Lydia Syson is a fifth-generation North Londoner who now lives south of the river with her partner and four children. After an early career as a BBC World Service Radio producer, she turned from the spoken to the written word, and developed an enduring obsession with history. Her PhD about poets, explorers and Timbuktu was followed by a biography of Britain’s first fertility guru, DOCTOR OF LOVE: JAMES GRAHAM AND HIS CELESTIAL BED, and then two YA novels for Hot Key Books set in the Spanish Civil War (A WORLD BETWEEN US) and World War Two (THAT BURNING SUMMER). LIBERTY’S FIRE, a passionate tale of the Paris Commune of 1871, is the third of her novels to be inspired, very loosely, by family history: Lydia’s anarchist great-great-grandmother moved in Communard circles in late nineteenth-century London.

Follow her on Twitter and on her website!


Don’t forget to browse through the articles I’ve posted this weekend (all links in my intro post here) for the hidden letters to solve the anagram and to be in with a chance of winning the Team Griffin box (click here to enter!). All the letters have been posted and the anagram to solve is LGBTQIA-related! Good luck!!

Tune in this afternoon for a review of The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson!

  1. Pingback: Queer YA Scrabble: Intro post

  2. LIBERTY’S FIRE sounds wonderful! I adore historical fiction (particularly novels set in and around this time period) – definitely going on the TBR pile!

  3. I love Lydia’s writing – I thought ‘A World Between Us’ and ‘That Burning Summer’ were brilliant and bought multiple copies for presents – so would love to read ‘Liberty’s Fire’

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