This is the second Book of Bayern so it does help if you have read the first book, The Goose Girl but it is not entirely necessary as the story itself is quite separate. Hale expands on the world she created in the first book, using a secondary character. In The Goose Girl Enna was one of Ani’s “forest friends”, important as friend and helper. In this book Enna is the main character. After the events of the first film she returned home to the forest, her mother died, and she moved back home with her brother. As this book begins he has found a mysterious vellum parchment in the forest and begins to change, becoming hot-headed and rash. At first he begins to argue against the king, saying the forest folk have been too harshly treated and deserve better, but as soon as word comes of a possible war he swings in behind Bayern and becomes a loyal subject, desiring to go to war on his country’s behalf. And then there is the fact that he can control fire.
I really enjoyed this book, as much, if not more than the first one. Enna is a smart, capable hero. But she also makes mistakes. Not all are her own fault, but they are realistic and believable. As are most of her actions.
But what I really loved about this book was the friendship between herself and Ani. Both do things they regret and hurt one another, but in the end they know that they care about one another. And that is what sees them through their troubles. Not only war but the realisation that they both have gifts that can do them great harm and may even kill them. Maybe that is why I enjoyed it more than the first, because it is the characters that drive the story rather than the plot. Don’t worry, there still is a plot, and it takes some very interesting turns, but it is more about the characters coming to know themselves. In many ways Enna is the opposite of Ani. In The Goose Girl Ani learned to be more confident and to make decisions for herself. In Enna Burning Enna learns that often times you really don’t know what you think you know, and that you often need to accept the help of others.