Author: Laura Bickle
Publisher: Pocket Books
Release Date: Out Now!!!
Rating: 3.75 Stars
There’s fire magick in the air with Laura Bickle’s debut paranormal investigation series Embers, which combines the realistic and politicized environment surrounding the urban decay of Detroit, interesting paranormal elements, and a heroine that realizes that her death might actually save the city. Devil’s Night will have new meaning for Detroiters if a slumbering elemental is let loose on the city.
Ember’s heroine is Anya Kalinczyk, a reluctant loner heroine who moonlights as a spiritual Lantern for the Detroit Area Ghost Researchers (DAGR) and by day reports in as an arson investigator for the Detroit Fire Department. With her trusty salamander Sparky, aka a fiercely protective hellbender, she is hot on the trail of an arsonist whose intent is to raze the city to the ground.
Lanterns have the ability to consume wayward ghosts and demons, conjure fire-and yes, summon nasty beasties. Just think more along the lines of “I eat dead people” instead of “I see dead people”.
Thoughtfully written, Bickle has great potential and fuel for Anya and while she might have her plot lens focused, Embers at times struggles to be grander than it is-which can be a problem when the plot and the sidekick overshadow its bland heroine.
Embers has some great plot development, complete with a Sumerian deity called Mimeveh who has taken root in Anya (an exorcism gone wrong), a scorching attraction to her enemy, Drake Ferrer, and ancient elemental, Sirrush who slumbers under the very streets of Detroit. If awakened, thousands of victims will churn in the flaming wake, a conflagration that will burn Detroit to the gritty end. All that remains in question is how will Anya stop it? And must she sacrifice herself do it?
Despite these pivotal plot plots, Bickle needs to dig down deep and dirty into Anya and present us with an unforgettable character in vivid shades. By comparison, Sparky, her trusty sidekick, is utterly unforgettable with a vibrancy that jumps off the pages.
The highlight of Embers is the lovely sense of wicked anticipation regarding the erotic play between enemy Drake Ferrer and Anya. Bickle has done her job enticing her readers and the buildup is almost scorching. Does Anya want the nice and steady type of guy like Brian, or is she instantly gravitating towards her enemy, also a Lantern, who can intimately relate to her and understand her?
From a readers perspective Brian seems a bit vanilla, certainly not worth the effort as a solid match to Anya. Which is why readers will give the thumbs up for
Drake. I know I did. Two thumbs up for Drake (slurp), I’m flicking my Bic right now as I write this.
Embers was a good read and I already have Sparks queued up (see? I believe in this series), but I couldn’t help but feel it needed more. More spice, more zing, perhaps more internal fleshing out for its heroine so she would pop off the page with some searing permanence. The setting is great, the relationships are reality driven, the conflict is well-done, thought out and very, very believable.
Embers was a great debut by a promising author (she also writes as Alayna Williams) so be sure to check out this promising new series.
A Fiendishly Bookish Review and one grumpy cat