‘Brightly Burning’ by Alexa Donne is rocket fuel for drama lovers.
Synopsis: Stella is part mechanic/part teacher aboard one of the poorest ships and she is desperate to get off the rust bucket. Finally she is accepted as a governess on the Rochester, a high tech, reclusive ship surrounded by mysterious rumours and run by the handsome Hugo Fairfax. However, terrible events transpire during her time there, including attempts on Hugo’s life. As Stella unravels the secrets of the Rochester, she uncovers a disastrous threat on the rest of the fleet.
Earth is in the grips of an Ice Age that has been raging for over 200 years so the story mainly takes place in space across a multitude of ships that orbit the Earth and the Moon while they wait for the ice to melt. They have a societal hierarchy within the ships and so you still have the poor and the rich situation. You also have private ships such as the Rochester, which is where all the mystery is. I found the idea of the Ice Age quite an interesting thought. It seemed somewhat plausible but also bizarre.
Stella was a strong, loyal character. I suppose with their life expectancy and the living conditions in space, you would have to grow up a lot quicker than usual and that level of maturity definitely made a presence in quite a lot of the characters. For once it didn’t seem far fetched for a 17 yo to be making life and death decisions. Stella was also very kind hearted and saw the good in people until they proved her wrong, and even then she couldn’t shut off her feelings. I found her to be wise and a relatively good role model.
I’m not sure how I feel about Hugo. He’s made a lot of terrible decisions and he’s acted very poorly towards people he claims to love but I do sorta, kinda understand where he’s coming from. He’s a morally grey character (which I know we all love) but he doesn’t redeem himself in my eyes. I’m happy that everything is sorted out and a fresh start is made at the end but I’m not sure I am as forgiving as Stella is.
I haven’t read the classics but I have watched some of the films (many, many years ago) so I knew roughly what to expect of this Jane Eyre retelling. I knew that Stella was going to fall in love with her employer and I knew something was going to happen to him but that ultimately it would end happily. I’m relieved that I kinda went into this book blind because I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much if I hadn’t. There was a lot of drama involved which is something I have a love/hate relationship with but I managed to push through it.
“That’s why I couldn’t do it, you’d sacrifice your own happiness for the sake of another’s. You’re incredible.”
I received this in Shelflove Crate’s May ‘Written In The Stars’ box.
You can get it here