Book Reviews

Review: Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston

Master of Poisons has been on my TBR forever. So when I saw that Hairston was releasing a new book recently, I knew I should jump on that opportunity. Redwood and Wildfire is a book full of stories. It’s one that has a slower pace than I was expecting, but ends up being focused on characters. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


At the turn of the 20th century, minstrel shows transform into vaudeville, which slides into moving pictures. Hunkering together in dark theatres, diverse audiences marvel at flickering images.

Redwood, an African American woman, and Aidan, a Seminole Irish man, journey from Georgia to Chicago, from haunted swampland to a “city of the future.” They are gifted performers and hoodoo conjurors, struggling to call up the wondrous world they imagine, not just on stage and screen, but on city streets, in front parlors, in wounded hearts. The power of hoodoo is the power of the community that believes in its capacities to heal.

Living in a system stacked against them, Redwood and Aidan’s power and talent are torment and joy. Their search for a place to be who they want to be is an exhilarating, painful, magical adventure.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: lynching, rape

If there’s one thing you should know about this historical fiction with a fantasy tilt, is that it’s dedicated to unfolding the characters. To getting not only a sense of who they are, but what their motivations, pasts, and secrets are. It honors the stories that shape us and the repeating cycles which trap us – wondering if we can break free. I was instantly drawn to the friendship between Aidan and Redwood. Overall, it’s still my favorite element of the story.

As Redwood and Wildfire progresses, Hairston illustrates a story about struggle and love. A story about dreams we nurture even though they flicker. It’s about lives we may only touch for a moment and pieces of what we want that turn out not to be enough. Aidan and Redwood have to figure out on their own, their own paths, expectations, and purpose. It exemplifies that we have to want to change for ourselves. While this may not be necessarily a love story, it’s certainly a character study.

Redwood and Wildfire asks and explores important intersections of racism and classism. The ways these identities become twisted in a complicate dance. There are pieces that explore family who help us, who carry our burdens just for a moment, and others who see an opportunity. What also struck me about Redwood and Wildfire was how it explores how we hurt outwardly and inwardly, the pains we keep to ourselves.

Overall, even though the pacing of this was pretty slow, I enjoyed reading about Redwood and Aidan as characters. If you go into it expecting a slower more character driven story about family, dreams that seem impossible, and love, then this is for you. Find Redwood and Wildfire on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite character driven story?

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