The Submerged Fire

Young Adult - Fantasy - General
324 Pages
Reviewed on 03/31/2023
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Free Book Program, which is open to all readers and is completely free. The author will provide you with a free copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. You and the author will discuss what sites you will post your review to and what kind of copy of the book you would like to receive (eBook, PDF, Word, paperback, etc.). To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

The Submerged Fire by Sture Henckel is a young adult fantasy that may be the best I have read in years. The story follows Niko, a wreck diver who comes across something so powerful it can cost him his life. Magic is strongly prohibited, but when Niko finds a book of magic, he risks it all to find someone who can interpret the text for him. He finds Stella, who hates magic but understands this book might have knowledge that can change their lives forever. However, they have to do it away from the watchful eyes of the rulers. But what will happen if they find like-minded people who welcome magic? Can they even find such a utopia?

The Submerged Fire is such a fitting name for the story. The plot is intense; it is packed full of action and has brilliant characters. Niko and Stella are the perfect partners in crime; they understand each other even if they didn’t in the beginning and understand why this book is so important to each other. Stella is spunky, a fireball of sass and issues who knows how to handle any situation. She is a maid by profession but she has secrets that can put her life in jeopardy. Does that stop her? Of course not. While Niko is hesitant, Stella is brash. They complement each other well, and the synergy between them flows wonderfully. The narrative has a strong presence in the story that is further backed by the fast pace. Hannah, Feyn, Theo, Stella, and Niko all have a story to tell, and Sture Henckel makes sure all of them get the chance to do that and more. This fantasy has serious potential to be a series because I would love to read more about Stella and Niko.

K.C. Finn

The Submerged Fire is a work in the fantasy, action, and adventure subgenres, and it forms the opening novel of the Rebel’s Genius series. It is intended for the young adult reading audience and contains some scenes of moderate fantasy violence. Penned by Sture Henckel, we find ourselves in a fascinating world where magic is controlled by an oppressive empire, and its continual progress makes life more and more difficult for ordinary people. So when youngster Niko discovers a magic book when diving into a wreck, his instincts tell him it’s a dangerous game to try to unlock its secrets, but he and the reluctant Stella begin the perilous journey to do so all the same.

Sture Henckel has crafted a fantastic fantasy world that I enjoyed getting lost in, and this opening installment to the Rebel’s Genius series does a wonderful job of introducing us to the system of empire and control, magical lore, and the dangerous streets and gorgeous, atmospheric coastal vistas that form the backdrop to Niko and Stella’s adventures. I loved the dynamic between the two central characters. They both have influences from their past that drive them into an unlikely bond over the potential of the magic that lies in their possession. The storyline does a lot to set up future conflicts and larger dangers on the horizon in the wider world, but in itself, it’s also a fantastic standalone tale of coming of age, facing one’s fears, and believing in what’s just and right. Overall, I would certainly recommend The Submerged Fire for fantasy fans seeking a new series and a highly imaginative and engrossing new author to discover.

Liz Konkel

The Submerged Fire by Sture Henckel kicks off the dazzling Rebel’s Genius series. It starts with a magical book. Niko spends his days diving, searching through wrecks, when one day he makes a spectacular discovery that leads him on a search to find someone with answers. He has a magic book that he’s only beginning to understand in a world that only allows magicians to use magic. Niko certainly isn’t one of those, but it doesn’t stop him from dreaming. His search brings him to Stella - a girl with a secret of her own - who sees value in the book. The two journey into uncharted territory where they find themselves in a conflict between two opposing sides.

Sture Henckel incorporates incredible attention to detail that brings this fantasy world to life with spirit ships, diving in shipwrecks, and a magical system. Every aspect of this world draws you into the danger and magic of it through the journeys of Niko and Stella. The aesthetic is a lovely blend of epic fantasy and adventure with elements of steampunk seen in the ships and tone. The adventure takes them under the water, on a spirit ship, and even to the Island of the Dead where they encounter a series of dangers. The world is well-rounded and feels like another character in the story. It has a vast system with specific laws rooted in magic which helps ground this fantastical world with magic being solely for magicians.

Though the magic book is dangerous, it is the catalyst for the adventure and brings Niko and Stella together. The story shifts perspectives between them, allowing you to get to know both characters and their attitudes. Stella’s journey is similar to Niko’s in the way she’s been kept from doing what she truly wants. Their dynamic is rooted in curiosity and develops into a genuine friendship throughout events with humor woven into their exchanges such as Niko being unsure how to talk to her because he’s not been around girls. Henckel incorporates a subtle poignancy into the writing that gives richness to the tone with beautiful phrases to describe an old gazebo now forgotten, swimming through giant bones, the ship growing like a nightmare, and echoing cries fading to silence. A lovely read, The Submerged Fire is a great foray into epic fantasy for all ages to enjoy.

Cloie Belle Daffon

Niko’s life as a wreck diver has been anything but easy. He was one of the fifteen boys aboard The Pearl. He was the resident shaman and the one expected to interpret magic letters on parchment. He was also in charge of making daily sacrifices to the sea to ensure safe travel. One tragic day Niko’s life took an unexpected turn. He and his friend Benjan were diving deeper than what was normally allowed. In among some silver cutlery, his best friend had also found a mysterious book. Owning such a dangerous item was risky but Niko was determined to discover what secrets the book held. Enter Stella, a clever and fierce girl who had been mistreated by her master and mistress. She carried out the duties of a maid and was also an apprentice. Niko saw that she could read and write and that she had a connection to a blacksmith. Many blacksmiths worked for magicians, so perhaps Stella could help Niko find out what secrets the book contained. Join Stella and Niko in The Submerged Fire, the first book of the Rebel’s Genius Series by Sture Henckel, as they fight against oppression to gain the freedom they deserve.

This introduction to the series was an exciting journey to follow. Sture Henckel expertly crafted a unique plotline with captivating and engaging characters. I had fun learning about this fantastical world, its political issues, and the opposing factions. Niko and Stella had both been through their fair share of ill-treatment and challenges. They yearned to break away and their determination and bravery in the face of adversity stuck with me. Their journey and character development were wonderfully executed. Henckel has weaved together such an immersive story that when I closed my eyes I could almost see the book play out like a movie. The author delivered a wondrous narrative filled with twists that I never saw coming and I could hardly put the book down. The Submerged Fire is an ongoing and exciting magical adventure that had me hooked from the beginning and I can’t wait for the next installment.

Helen Huini

Every young boy dreams of a happy childhood characterized by endless playing with his friends. In contrast, Niko, Benjan, and other younger boys worked as child laborers on The Pearl, a ship that Captain Alan was commanding. In Sture Henckel's The Submerged Fire, their primary responsibility was diving to retrieve treasure from shipwrecks. This was a dangerous activity, and the boys rarely survived the frequent accidents and diseases. This is what happened to Niko’s best friend Benjan, who found a magic book just before he died. As Niko mourned his friend and blamed himself for not protecting him, he resolved to abandon The Pearl and create a new life for himself using the magic book. Niko could not do this alone and had to solicit help from the most unlikely person.

The Submerged Fire includes interrelated aspects that add variety to the narration. The characters believe in magic and offer prayers and sacrifices to their spirits for protection. Sture Henckel highlights the exploitation of young children by ship captains, whose greed for the spoils of the sea compromised their concern for the boys' health. The author also explored the chauvinistic tendencies of a highly patriarchal society that undermined women’s abilities to accomplish anything substantial. They were often restricted to household duties and were not even allowed to comment on issues they disapproved of. The characters are realistically developed, each working to carve out a life for themselves while avoiding the laws of the oppressive regime. The plot development is steady, with dialogue advancing the storyline and providing background information to the often daring actions of the protagonists. This book is recommended to young adult and teenage readers that love inventions and mysteries, where the underestimated abilities of youngsters transform society for the better.