Saturday, November 19, 2011


Embers by Laura Bickle is the first in her series about Anya Kalinczyk, an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department.  But fighting fires and catching up to the people who start them?  That's only her day job...Anya is also a Lantern - a kind of medium who has power over the element of fire, and can not only see and speak to earthbound spirits, but can also devour them.  Nights are spent helping during exorcisms with a local ghost hunting group.  Anya has managed to keep both these aspects of her life separate, but this becomes impossible when she realizes that clues left at the scene of each fire set by a serial arsonist seem to be connected to an occult ritual of some kind.  She was ready to walk away for good from the Detroit Area Ghost Researchers - and the group's handsome technophile, Brian - but now she needs their help to put the pieces together and stop the arsonist before all of Detroit ends up burnt to the ground - or worse.

Holy hellbenders (hee; if you've read this already, you'll see what I did there) - there are not enough words to describe how much I adored this book.  Embers has a little bit of everything I really love in a story:  it's an urban fantasy, but in the scenes where Anya is on the clock as an investigator, we get elements of a good crime novel.  The mythology in this book is excellent, and besides our Lantern, there are other supernatural beings as well:  ghosts, demons, and elementals (Anya's familiar, the salamander Sparky, is one).  There's a bit of romance woven into Embers as well (and a hint of a love triangle), though that really isn't the focus of the book.  And Drake Ferrer?  I would love to see more of him somehow.  Rowr.

I had such a hard time putting this down when I needed to do other things, and I think I can very easily say this book is one of the absolute best that I've read all year.  There were zero dull moments - something is always going on, and I felt the suspense and sense of urgency in Anya and the DAGR in their need to resolve everything before time is up.  The dialogue was fantastic, too; it was very natural and engaging.  Some of Anya's interactions with spirits made me think of Jennifer Love Hewitt's show, Ghost Whisperer (which I also love) - but that may also be because I've been watching the series over on Netflix lately.  Anya is definitely no Melinda Gordon, though - she has an entirely different set of struggles she deals with and personal sacrifices she must make as a Lantern.

Beyond the plot and the characters, I also really enjoyed the setting.  I'm part Polish through my father, and that branch of the family tree has been in the Detroit area of Michigan for some time - he was born in Detroit and his mother is from Hamtramck, which is where Anya lives.  I have not yet been to Michigan, but the family connection to the setting really made it that much more fun for me to read Embers.

If I have ever really wanted for a book to have a film adaptation, Embers is it.  There is so much going on in this book, and if done right, I think it would be so visually dynamic.  It already was, in my mind's eye, from just reading it.  I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel, Sparks, and I hope that there will be more of Anya after that, because I did not want to be finished with this book as soon as I was!



Pocket Books (a division of Simon & Schuster)

Series info:  What came before this book? What's next?
Anya Kalinczyk
* Embers (Book 1)
- Sparks (Book 2)

See what others are saying about it, or buy it now:
Better World Books

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.