No one knows how or why the new baby boys show up – they just do. Life in the Ikkuma Pit is hard for the boys who are left there to grow up. All the boys have a Little Brother they must care for until they, themselves, are around the age of 16 or so, when they leave the Pit for the greater world. At that point their Little Brother becomes a Big Brother and gets his own abandoned baby boy to raise.
For Urgle, his Little Brother, Cubby, has been a pain since he first showed up. However, as much as Cubby might drive him crazy, what Urgle worries about the most is that he won’t be able to prepare Cubby by teaching him all the skills he needs. Because Urgle’s nickname is Useless. All the other boys view Urgle as pretty much worthless. Urgle doesn’t think he’ll ever have all the skills needed to leave the Pit, let alone be able to train Cubby.
Once day a stranger shows up at the Pit with some creatures behind him. He takes refuge in the Pit and it is soon discovered that he was a former Brother from the Pit. With this man, Blaze’s, arrival, the Brothers become divided. Some think that Blaze should be welcomed back, but Urgle wonders why he has returned when no other Brothers ever have.
In the midst of this, Cubby and another Little Brother are taken by the creatures that were hunting Blaze, and Urgle realizes nothing else matters but to get Cubby back, alive.
The Boys of Fire and Ash by Meaghan McIsaac feels like the start of a new fantasy series with lots of adventure and world building happening in the first book. Where the author will go with it remains to be seen. If it isn’t a start for a series, the reader will be left with an incomplete feeling.
Recommended for grades 7th and up because of the world building aspects of the book which might be confusing to younger readers.