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I Belong

Review: Embers by Laura Bickle

Title: Embers

Author: Laura Bickle

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publication Date: March 30, 2010

Format: Paperback, 368 Pages

ISBN-10: 1439167656 (Pocket)

ISBN-13: 978-1439167656 (Pocket)

Synopsis (Product Description):

Truth burns. Unemployment, despair, anger—visible and invisible unrest feed the undercurrent of Detroit’s unease. Homes and businesses are increasingly invaded by phantoms and now, with the annual destruction of Devil’s Night approaching, a supernatural arsonist is setting blazes to summon a fiery ancient power that will leave the city in ashes. A sizzling debut from a red-hot new author.

By day, Anya Kalinczyk is an arson investigator in the Detroit Fire Department. At night—accompanied by her elemental familiar, a salamander named Sparky, and an eccentric group of ghost hunters—Anya pursues malicious spirits. The rarest form of psychic medium, a “Lantern,” Anya doesn’t allow spirits to communicate through her with the physical world like most mediums, she devours restless harmful souls and incinerates them. She’d like to get closer to Brian, a ghost-hunting techno-wiz, but a lifetime of those she loves getting hurt makes her hold back. Her two roles mesh when, on the trail of a serial firebug, she discovers an arsonist is attempting to use the fires to rouse Sirrush, a supremely powerful elemental, from the salt mine beneath the city of Detroit. Anya must capture the arsonist before Devil’s Night, when the spell will be complete and Sirrush will rise to raze the city.

Quick & Dirty: An extraordinary tale of danger, ghosts and magic that will have you clamoring for more.

Opening Sentence: Truth burned.  It always burned, even in the dark, cold hours of the morning when nearly everything slept.

Excerpt: Chapter 1

The Review:

Anya has a day job as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department.  When the freaks come out at night, she works with a ragtag group of ghost hunters aka the Detroit Area Ghost Researchers, fighting the good fight against malevolent spirits.  Anya is far from the run of the mill medium that communicates with the dead.  She’s a Lantern, which is a rare medium that has the ability to devour spirits.  It’s up to Anya, her loveable familiar Sparky and her ghost hunting crew to stop the supernatural arsonist before Devil’s Night or the Motor City will become the city of ashes.

Ms. Bickle pens a dynamite urban fantasy debut complete with fascinating characters, a great action filled plot, set in a very atmospheric, eerie and dark Detroit.  Her characters are rich and captivating, fitting nicely into the backdrop of Detroit’s gritty and deadly supernatural scene.  The plot is fast-paced and the magic is thoroughly integrated into the story, making Embers a real page-turner.

What sets this novel apart from the plethora of “tough as nails” female leads is the great work Ms. Bickle does with characterization.  Embers’ protagonist, Anya, is a hero, but the nature of her work means Anya also has a dark side.  Anya is one of the most multi-dimensional characters in the urban fantasy genre.  She’s powerful, and tears through the spiritual underworld of Detroit, but it takes a personal toll on her.  It was tough to see Anya struggle with isolation and her feelings of being torn between the spirit world and our world.  She’s also trying to navigate the rocky road of intimate relationships.  I don’t want to give too much away, but suffice it to say that devouring souls is not without risk.  That’s not to say Anya is squeamish about devouring spirits.  In the end, she’s willing to do what it takes to get the job done.  She’s fiercely loyal to the few people in her life that she really cares about and considers her friends.

Embers’ supporting cast of characters round out an already great tale.  Anya has an amazing familiar, a five-foot fire salamander named Sparky.  What’s not to love about Sparky?  He has many endearing attributes.  He’s quirky, loyal and needy to a fault, but he’s also Anya’s protector.  He loves her very much and has a hard time sharing her.  Sparky doesn’t speak and can only be seen by Anya and ghosts, but nonetheless his presence is felt.  Sparky is the one constant in Anya’s life and he annoys her as much as he comforts her.  It’s actually quite touching.

Overall, Embers is an impressive debut.  Think Ghost Hunters meets Supernatural and that’s just a fraction of the good times you will get out of reading this book.  Ms. Bickle delivers great storytelling, compelling characters, and top-notch worldbuilding.  Embers is well written with a fresh and unique mythology.  Danger, demons and Devil’s Night abound, making this book hard to put down.  I’m really looking forward to visiting this gritty and dark world again in the sequel, Sparks.

Notable Scene:

But this wasn’t the chill of ice.  This demon burned, burned like lye.  Tears sprang to her eyes as she struggled with it, trying to destroy this caustic thing that scorched like acid she’s sucked behind her lips…

She choked.  The hot blackness of the demon crept down her throat in spidery tendrils.  She coughed, trying to expel it, but the demon clung to her.  She reeled back in the bubbles to the wall of the shower, clawing at her throat.  The amber flame in her chest burned brighter, striving to consume this demon that was so much larger and more powerful than she’d expected.

The Anya Kalinczyk Series:

1. Embers

2. Sparks – August 31, 2010

Visit Laura around the web here: Website | Blog

FTC Advisory: The author provided me a copy of Embers.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.  In addition, I don’t receive affiliate fees for anything purchased via links from my site.

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Review: Embers by Laura Bickle, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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4 Responses to “Review: Embers by Laura Bickle

  1. AngieNo Gravatar

    Thanks for this solid review. I’ve wondered about this one and hoped it was as good as it looked. I’m definitely going to check it out now.

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  2. DonnaNo Gravatar

    I just got my copy of Embers, I hope to read it in the next few weeks. Your review makes me want to break it out now. Thanks!

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  4. katiebabsNo Gravatar

    Just finished this book, and other than the pesky demon possession plot, I really enjoyed this debut.

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