In one sentence: A weaker work than Goose Girl, and the least enjoyable of all the Bayern Books.
This review will contain spoilers!
In many sentences:
I have listened to several audio versions of Shannon Hale books, including Goose Girl, the prequel to Enna Burning, and have enjoyed each of them. I recently picked up Enna Burning, and the other Books of Bayern for cheap on Kindle. I must admit, however, the experience of reading Enna Burning was generally less enjoyable than listening to Goose Girl. I'm unsure if this is because the production and narration on the audio version was particularly excellent, overcoming some of the flaws in Goose Girl, or if Enna Burning is simply not as good of a book.
I'll try to articulate what I felt made Enna Burning less enjoyable than Goose Girl, independent of the format. First, Enna herself is a less interesting, dynamic character than Isi. She must struggle with the death of her brother, the loss of her mother, and her feeling of impotence while taking care of her home. Isi, on the other hand, was betrayed by a maid, forced to hide her past, and fight for her heritage all by herself (at least initially). While there is the war raging throughout Enna Burning, it somehow seemed more remote than the immediate struggles that Isi faced.
Second, the book seemed to constantly harp on the same aspects of the nature of fire, without expanding on them. It almost felt like the book had less to say than Goose Girl, so it simply rehashed the same elements over and over again. Then, when the plot actually began to move forward (when they travel south to learn how the people could speak to fire and rain), it moves too rapidly. It focused so much on Enna's struggle through the first 3/4 of the book, that Enna and Isi's ability to overcome their plight is trivialized because it happens so fast. At one point, they can barely survive, and in the next moment everything is perfectly fine!
This isn't all to say the book was bad – the relationship between Finn and Enna was well portrayed, as was the change in Isi and the challenges that came from a deeper knowledge of the language of the wind. I have hope that the other books in the series will be good because there is a lot of promise now that the brooding obsession over the destructive power of fire has been overcome. Yet, I can't help but fear that Goose Girl was the high point in the series, and that none of the subsequent books will be able to recapture its beautiful, ethereal qualities. Hopefully I'm wrong, however! Perhaps if they can focus more on Isi, instead of the side characters, they will be stronger books.
Shannon Hale the First Line of Enna Burning
Shannon Hale the Last Line of in Enna Burning