Ms. Ebner has created a brilliant story with strong characters that tug at your heart. While this has fantasy elements, the real story is Sam's journey to happiness, acceptance and ultimately, peace. She has a fire within her, and it burns, good or bad, with her emotions, and even though she is shunned by even her own father, she finds acceptance with two others, a teacher and a mysterious boy, that the town as a whole has labeled as odd and one not to closely associate with. The ending managed to completely take me by surprise, which doesn't happen a whole lot... it was a twist that I never thought of! But it fits the story so well. I also like the symbol and presence of the ladybug (ladybird) in this story. It is really original, and I loved how it played into the plot and guided Sam's journey.