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I Belong

Review: Soul of Fire by Laura Anne Gilman

Title: Soul of Fire

Author: Laura Anne Gilman

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Portals Duology (Book 2)

Publication Date: September 24, 2013

Format: Paperback, 304 Pages

ISBN-10: 0373803575 (Harlequin)

ISBN-13: 978-0373803576 (Harlequin)

Reviewed by: Stephanie


save the world-early and often

Three months ago Jan learned that elves were real, our world wasn’t safe and it was up to her to save her boyfriend-and the world-from being englamoured into slavery. Now Jan has a new deadline-ten weeks, ten days and ten hours. That’s when the truce she arranged between our world and the elves’ realm ends, and the invasion starts.

While supernatural creatures work to defend humanity, Jan and the kelpie Martin have to find the preter queen, and use her to force the portals closed. But when magic mixes with technology, shutting it down isn’t as simple as closing a door or pulling a plug….

Jan’s geek-girl know-how might have gotten her this far, but they’re going to need technical skills and magic to shut the portals for good….

And their time’s nearly up.

Quick & Dirty: Two humans and a kelpie are in a race against time to prevent preternaturals (think really angry elves) from showing up in our world to wreak havoc. Add to that the fact that the preternatural Queen – who fled her world and is potentially the only being who can stop the influx of preters – really doesn’t want to leave, and things could get bad very quickly. The clock is ticking…

Opening Sentence: In the middle of the chaos, the constant hum of conversation, the noise of chairs and feet, Jan could hear the clock.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Laura Anne Gilman has created a world full of fantastic creatures, many of which I had never heard of before. That being said, while I did enjoy the story, I spent a portion of the book feeling confused, and I was unsatisfied by the ending.

At the end of Heart of Briar, the preter (short for preternatural) consort tells Jan she has 10 weeks, 10 days, and 10 hours before the preters will begin using portals to enter our world, changing life as humans know it forever. By the time Soul of Fire starts, the deadline is just days away. A team of supernaturals (along with Jan and a few select humans) have been working round the clock to try and figure out how the preters have been opening portals. They’re also desperately trying to locate the preter queen, who has escaped to our world. She is the only one who could potentially close the portals and convince the preters to stop their invasion of our world. The team is having no luck on either front, and time is running short.

Jan is feeling out of place on The Farm, the headquarters of this team. She’s not considered strong enough to go out in the field to look for the Queen, and she doesn’t have the tech expertise to really help with figuring out the portals. She can physically feel the clock ticking down to the deadline, and her frustration is mounting. She enlists the help of Martin, the kelpie who went with her to the preter realm in book 1 to rescue her boyfriend Tyler. Together, they set out to find the Queen.

I have not read the first book, and I think that fact hindered me when it came to this book. There are so many different kinds of creatures in this book; I’m not sure if they were described in detail in book 1, but very little description is given here, so I had a hard time picturing what different creatures looked like, especially those with which I wasn’t familiar. A notable exception to this is Gillman’s descriptin of gnomes. These are most definitely not the Travelocity gnomes you see on TV commercials. These gnomes can change their size, and the picture I would get in my head as Jan talked about the gnomes’ limbs elongating and changing was enough to completely freak me out. Very well done!

The only other instance where not reading book 1 really hindered me had to do with the character of Tyler, Jan’s boyfriend from the first book. We’re told that he had been kidnapped and taken to the preter realm after connecting with a preter on an internet hook-up site. This fact did not endear Tyler to me, so when Jan would act as if she wanted to still be his girlfriend, I had a really hard time understanding why she would overlook what caused him to be kidnapped in the first place. I want to go back and read the first book so I can see if my opinion of him changes at all.

My favorite character by far as Martin. He seemed to be the most lifelike to me of any of the characters, and I really wish we had seen more of him. While I liked Jan, I never really connected to her, which is necessary for me personally in order to really enjoy a book.

The story is told from multiple points of view, although mostly from Jan’s. While I thought the first third of the book moved a little slow, the pace eventually picked up, and I often had a hard time putting it down. My only other complaint would be that the ending left me unsatisfied. This being only a two-book series, I would have liked a little more closure with certain characters and their fates, and it really threw me off when I didn’t get that. That being said, I’m definitely going to be checking out book 1 and will be reading more of Laura Anne Gilman in the future!

Notable Scene:

“You okay?” AJ asked.

Her mouth twitched in a grin, even as she picked up the toast and bit into it. She was living in a farmhouse in western Connecticut, surrounded by supernatural creatures out of a fairy tale, while her boyfriend was being deprogrammed, and the rest of them tried to find a way to stave off an invasion from another…world? Universe? Reality? An invasion of bloody-minded elves, according to her friend Glory, who – when Jan had finally admitted what was going on and asked for help – had taken the news with terrifying aplomb.

“Oh, good,” Glory had said, her voice scratchy over transatlantic phone lines. “Because when you disappeared for a week without a word, I thought you might’ve had a nervous breakdown or something. Elves are much better.”

The Portals Duology:

1. Heart of Briar

2. Soul of Fire

FTC Advisory: Harlequin Luna provided me with a copy of Soul of Fire. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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