Iron and Fire by Kerrin Willis Review

Publication Date: April 5, 2022
eBook & Paperback; 316 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

1675 — Plymouth Colony — Verity Parker promised to look after her family.

Raised among the bookshops and turmoil of Reformation London, Verity now finds herself in Puritan New England, where she must learn to keep her head down and her mouth shut, or risk dire consequences. The only person who values her tenacity is Kit, the heretical ironworker she has been forbidden to see. When King Philip’s War breaks out, Verity must stay silent as the Puritan elders spread hateful rhetoric about the “savages” in the forest. When she witnesses a young girl die in childbirth, Verity must stand by as neighbors blame God’s vengeance. But when tragedy strikes her own home, Verity must choose between her duty to her family and her love for Kit. Will she choose to keep the peace, or will she defy the leaders of the colony for a chance at happiness?

Set against the backdrop of King Philip’s War, the bloodiest war per capita in American history, Iron & Fire explores the experience of a clever, educated woman at a time when being so often resulted in death. Perfect for fans of Amy Belding Brown’s Flight of the Sparrow, or Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Iron & Fire was written for those who read the original American Girl series as children and are now all grown up.

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My Thoughts

This story is set in a time period that I find very interesting but haven’t read a lot about. The story follows Verity who has moved with her mother and sister from London to New England shortly after the new colony has been settled. I really liked the comparisons that Verity made as someone who came from a well established city to live in a very new colony. Verity identified more as a Quaker than a Puritan and I found this very interesting. I did some extra research on the Puritans vs. Quakers and although similar, there were some stark differences in their beliefs. As a Christian, I found that I share some beliefs with both groups.

The author created a very atmospheric setting and was very good at increasing the tension as war began to brew between the English Settlers and the Native Americans. This book really caused me to think about this time period and the injustices that occurred. I had never heard about King Phillip’s War and found it very interesting to read about.

Overall, this was a very informative book. There was some language that I didn’t agree with and I was surprised a few times with how far the author went with vulgarity. I would not classify this story as a clean read.

I received this book from the author/publisher to read/review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Praise

“Whether you’re a fan of passionate romance, a detective in search of a mystery, or a history buff looking to learn more about what happened after Plymouth Rock, Iron & Fire has something for everyone. While Verity and Kit are the main attractions, the family relationships were my favorite parts- especially the bonds between the cheeky eldest Parker sisters. I learned quite a bit about things from my own backyard I knew nothing about- and most appreciated that for a novel that took place nearly 350 years ago, the characters and their issues felt modern and relatable. A fast read that will stick with you after you turn the final page!” Meredith Bickford, MA MEd

“Iron and Fire masterfully depicts Puritan New England in a story that seamlessly blends themes of love, war, and family. Verity Parker, the headstrong protagonist, challenges nearly every “norm” of Puritan society. Throughout the course of the novel, Verity seeks to define her purpose; oftentimes she is trapped deciding between meeting the expectations of her family or embracing her divergent worldview. In particular, Verity’s conception of humanity will make her an endearing and relatable character for Willis’ audience; unlike her peers, Verity’s notion of justice and community extends far beyond societal limitations, making her worldview far more relevant for modern readers.
Beyond Verity, Willis incorporates a series of complex characters whose subtle growth help shape the novel into a well-rounded story. Each character faces a conflict that calls their identities and beliefs into question. It is unlikely that readers will not be able to find one character with whom they can relate to. Willis’ ability to interweave these intricate story lines is captivating!” ~ Megan Johnson, MEd

“In her debut novel, Kerrin Willis captures the heart of American colonial historical fiction with her words and characters. Iron & Fire, set during the King Phillip War in southeastern Massachusetts, explores the themes of family dynamics, love, and the voice of independent women living in a time when silence was the standard….The writing style is fluent and peppered with wit and descriptive prose balanced throughout the dialogue. The novel reads quickly, while the characters stay with you. Iron & Fire is an engaging, character-driven novel that is strongly recommended” ~Kimberly Rocha, MA MEd

About The Author

 Kerrin Willis lives in Southeastern Massachusetts with her two daughters and her dog, Austen. She is a high school English teacher who prides herself on being a feminist and a strong protagonist in her own story, and she would probably have been burned as a witch in colonial New England. Kerrin can usually be found pausing The Little Mermaid and subjecting her daughters to a lecture on the dangers of giving up their voices.

Kerrin has a BA in English from Stonehill College, and MA in English from Simmons College, and is currently working on her MFA in Fiction from Southern New Hampshire University.

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