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Review: The Language of Fire by Stephanie Hemphill

Hey all, Dani here.

I am on a roll with getting posts prepped up. It is so nice to have time at work that I can actually use to do some of my bookish tasks, but it reminds me that I’m not lucky enough to do this all the time. But at the moment I’m about a week ahead on my posts, which is great. It means that next week I can work on getting my posts written for our time at Gen Con. I’m going to be busy for practically four days straight, so if I don’t have my posts prepared then there won’t be any. But for right now I’m definitely hopeful that I’ll continue this trend of having posts ready ahead of time, at least for the next couple weeks.

Anyway, today’s review is a different kind of book for me, and that’s kind of cool. So let’s just jump into the review.

The Language of Fire


The Language of Fire is a lyrical, dark, and moving look at the life of Joan of Arc, who as a teen girl in the fifteenth century commanded an army and helped crown a king of France.

This extraordinary verse novel from award-winning author Stephanie Hemphill dares to imagine how an ordinary girl became a great leader, and ultimately saved a nation.

Jehanne was an illiterate peasant, never quite at home among her siblings and peers. Until one day, she hears a voice call to her, telling her she is destined for important things. She begins to understand that she has been called by God, chosen for a higher purpose—to save France.

Through sheer determination and incredible courage, Jehanne becomes the unlikeliest of heroes. She runs away from home, dresses in men’s clothes, and convinces an army that she will lead France to victory.

As a girl in a man’s world, at a time when women truly had no power, Jehanne faced constant threats and violence from the men around her. Despite the impossible odds, Jehanne became a fearless warrior who has inspired generations.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4 stars

Was I initially attracted to this book because of the cover? Yes, yes, I was. And then I read the dust jacket flap, and I thought about how I haven’t actually read many (if any) books in verse. So it was settled and I picked this one up–and added it to an already pretty large stack of books, because my last book haul was rather large.

It was also such a quick read, probably because of the format. Only half of each page has actual text on it.

I guess my big issue with this prose poetry novel is that it didn’t always have that poetry feel to me. Most poetry has a certain flow or rhythm, a cadence to it, not always because of a rhyme scheme, but I hope you guys understand what I mean. This one didn’t really have that feel to me. It just felt like prose put on to the page to sort of look like poetry. So the whole thing could have just been in standard novel prose and been 200 or so pages shorter, and accomplished the same thing.

Still, I thought it was a very interesting story. I feel like I learned a lot about Joan of Arc, and her youth, and her struggles. It was informative and well-developed, and I just felt compelled to keep reading, even though I knew how the story ended.

Jehanne/Joan was a fascinating young woman, and her faith and her determination are vastly compelling. This story helps to emphasize who Jehanne was, and the situations she went through on her path to save France. So much of what she accomplished, she did from listening to the voice inside her, and teaching herself a number of skills that were not for women in those days. When she spoke to people of the task she was given, there was this sense of certainty and conviction in what she said. It convinced a lot of people to follow her and fight with her.

I’m glad I picked up this story.

Where to Buy

You can pick up your own copy of this book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local independent bookstore.

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