The Fire Keeper is an actioned packed, white-knuckle ride of a read, with a love of family and friends as the core message of the story. Author J.C. Cervantes introduced her hero Zane Obispo only a year ago in The Storm Runner and helped young readers fall in love with Zane and friends and the Maya mythology.
Zane is in hiding thanks to the magic of Ixtab, goddess of the underworld. Startled by the appearance of a girl named Ren on his island hideaway, Zane and his friends are forced to leave the protection of the island and set out on a quest that could kill Zane if he is not careful.
At the conclusion of events in The Storm Runner, the gods forced Zane to write out what happened to him in his battle with the god of death Ah-Puch. Zane was forced to be truthful, but he secretly placed his own magic in the book which helped awaken the magic inside other godborn kids, and Ren was one of those readers.
To make matters worse Zane’s father, the Maya god Hurakan, is to be executed by the other Maya gods for breaking the sacred oath to not sire anymore children with humans. Zane is angry that his father will be killed by the gods who have also broken the sacred oath, and this motivator is what sends Zane, his uncle Hondo, his friend Brooks, and hellhound Rosie on a journey through hell.
J.C. Cervantes has crafted a well-written story that despite being cloaked in the mythology of the Maya gods is focused on the growth and development of Zane. The reader is introduced to this magical world through Zane’s experiences and we as the reader root for our hero because everything that Zane feels is what the reader can connect with.
Cervantes made our protagonist impulsive, but exceptional at working with a variety of individuals to achieve the best possible goal. Zane learned in The Storm Runner that he had the power of fire within him, and through some instruction with his father Hurakan, he was able to use his abilities to defeat the god of death Ah-Puch. Zane can harness fire, but he has trouble controlling this ability, and therefore has trouble being able to use it successfully.
Zane has great power, is the son of a Maya god, but he doubts himself and his own abilities. It is one thing to be told you are special and that you have a great talent, it's another to be able to harness and master that talent for the greater good. From the first page until the conclusion in The Fire Keeper, Zane is coming to grips with the reality of his life. Just because he has this phenomenal ability doesn’t mean that life will be easy for him.
Zane is influenced by his emotions but doesn’t allow his emotions to control and dictate all his decisions. He can be commended for wanting to save his father, whom he hardly knows, but Zane also has empathy and compassion for anyone.
Cervantes brings back the villain of The Storm Runner, the god of death himself Ah-Puch, and forces Zane to team up with this unreliable villain in order to rescue his father, and the other godborn children. Ah-Puch is a perfect partner for Zane. He brings humor to the story, and he possesses the powers of the Maya gods which Zane needs in order to be victorious. Zane is constantly forced to accept the word of gods who are not known for keeping their word. Even though he is told many times to run away and hide by his father, Zane persists at his own risk, because he wants to do the right thing. It is always easy to run and hide. It’s a completely different task when you are willing to experience death magic which could kill you, so you can help others. This is Zane Obispo, a kid who is willing to sacrifice his only weapon, the spear/cane called Fuego, to keep the eternal fire burning a little longer for the Fire Keeper.
While everyone else questions his choices, Zane recognizes that Ah-Puch is his only hope and makes a deal knowing he will either succeed or be betrayed by his former enemy. Cervantes makes readers question Zane’s intelligence with this deal, but it allows the author to prove to the readers that sometimes your enemy from before, is not your enemy now and you have to let go of the past to be able to move forward.
Zane is an excellent character for student readers of all ages and their parents to admire. He displays all the impulsiveness that any teenager has, but he has the heart of a warrior that cares deeply for friends and family. No one is insignificant to Zane Obispo, including his father who has never been a part of his life.
The Fire Keeper by J.C. Cervantes gets four stars out of four, for exceeding the brilliance of the first book in the series, and for teaching the reader to always be willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. If Zane can forgive and work with the god of death Ah-Puch, anything is possible.