Following The Goose Girl, Enna Burning is a second tale set in Bayern, Hale’s well-crafted fantasy world. This volume follows Enna, a relatively minor character in the first book, as she has an adventure as bold and as harrowing as that experienced by Ani (sometimes known as Isi) in the first book. Bored and grumpy after months in the forest with little human interaction, Enna is both intrigued and dismayed when he brother comes back from a trip with a piece of vellum he won’t let her see and a new gift with fire, and also newly inconstant, prone to sudden tempers and flashes of fiery violence. A sudden war between Bayern and a kingdom to the south gives Enna and her brother new direction, but also tragedy, and soon Enna finds herself grappling with the power and risk of fire.
As in The Goose Girl, the plot is ultimately less important than the characters and their psyches. Unlike The Goose Girl, Enna Burning is a very solitary book; while her friends have important roles, the heart of the book is Enna’s internal struggle: to control the fire and her own impulses, to trust herself and feel she deserves the trust of others, to forgive herself, to forgive her brother.
The very gentle style of writing made it difficult to lose myself in this book, but it stuck with me when I wasn’t reading. I kept returning to Enna’s issues, worrying about them and analyzing her psychological state and the way events—and characters—played upon her vulnerabilities. It’s not an exciting book, but it’s a rich one, plumbing the depths of a realistic, tormented young woman.