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Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century

Myke Cole, author of Shadow Ops Series

John Brown John, translator of the Zamonia Novels

Jim C. Hines author of Libriomancer

Nick Harkaway author of Angelmaker (review here)

Martha Wells author of The Cloud Roads

David Tallerman author of Giant Thief

Mazarkis Williams author of The Emperor's Knife

Rob Ziegler author of Seed

Steven Gould author of 7th Sigma

Douglas Hulick author of Among Thieves (review here)

Mark Charan Newton author of Nights of Villjamur (review here)

Kameron Hurley author of God's War (review here)

Brent Weeks author of The Black Prism (review here)

Anthony Huso author of The Last Page (review here)

Brandon Sanderson author of The Way of Kings (review here)

Lou Anders Editor of Pyr Books

Ian Tregillis author of Bitter Seeds (review here)

Sam Sykes author of Tome of the Undergates (review here)

Benjamin Parzybok author of Couch (review here)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch author of Diving Into the Wreck (review here)

Ken Scholes author of Lamentation

Cherie Priest author of Boneshaker (review here)

Lev Grossman author of The Magicians (review here)

Character Interviews

Alexia and Lord Maccon from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Lord Akeldama from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Eva Forge from Tim Akers's The Horns of Ruin

Atticus from Kevin Hearne's Hounded


The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Year Zero by Rob Reid

Alif: The Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Control Point by Myke Cole

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
My BlogCatalog BlogRank Wikio - Top Blogs - Literature

REVIEW | Child of Fire by Harry Connolly (Del Rey)

Child of Fire is an Urban Fantasy that is not exactly an Urban Fantasy. It has the tropes of and sentimentality, but takes place entirely in a small town in Washington State with a decidedly dark take as nasty creatures, werewolves, and evil magic are the main focus. Child of Fire goes full throttle from start to finish in a new Urban Fantasy. It comes off as an odd mix of feeling like a light read at less than 350 pages, but still having an edge which was a pleasant surprise for a debut book. It definitely didn't drag at any point even when issues with the narrative arose.

Child of Fire centers on Ray Lilly who is sort of a thugged out version of a magician only without the mad skills and friends to back him up ala Harry Dresden. He is the grunt boy to the frigid Annalise, a heavy hitter for Twenty Palaces Society, which is an ancient order that watches out for misuses of magic throughout the world. Lilly is strangely approachable. This is a guy I didn't want to like, but his willingness to keep throwing himself into the fire kept drawing me to him. Don't make a mistake by my mention of Dresden earlier. Connolly has a similar sense of pacing as the early Dresden books, but that is where the similarities end. Lilly isn't a former golden boy turned bad. He is a bad boy who is trying to learn from the mistakes of his past and make some sort of amends for his misdeeds. The cynical humor does a lot to keep the attention going, especially as Ray spars his way verbally with many characters.

After Ray's release from prison he is on a parole of sorts as Annalise's "wooden boy." They have been drawn to a small town by signs of magic use and are quickly caught up in a strange series of events as children have morphed into something quite gross. Ray's magical armaments consist of a ghost knife, which I quickly tired of and a bit of shielding magic on his body. The knife is at first quite cool, but is used so much it comes off as a crutch to get Ray just in the nick. Ray has somehow gotten himself involved in the magic world and once you are in you are there for life. Or until they kill you.

Quite a few inconsistencies pop up though, which boggled my mind at times. Annalise and Ray have a very antagonistic relationship, but part way through their relationship changes. There are reasons for this, but they don't seem sufficient given their shared past. Which brings me to the biggest problem. There is an abundance of back-story hinted at for Ray and also the Twenty Palaces society, but not enough revealed to sate. Ray's reasons for being in jail and now in debt to the society is glossed over all too briefly in a page or two when clearly there is a lot to delve into. There are loads of loose ends only some of which, I suspect will be answered in future volumes.

The world is left very vague, which seems mostly on purpose as Connolly is still developing his craft and may fear giving away too much too soon. But I hope as he comes into his own and can better parse out the guts of these characters and this world. The best authors will give it all they have and when the next book comes along do it all over again. Connolly clearly sees this a a living, breathing world where his characters won't or can't take care of everything though.

While not wholly memorable Child of Fire shows promise for the future. Fans of Rob Thurman, and Anton Strout will find plenty to gravitate towards if they are hankering for a new series. When you get down to it Child of Fire is a fun ride while it lasts. The sequel Game of Cages is due out at the end of the month, which I plan to read at some point. I'm keen to learn more about Twenty Palaces society and their history. The one story we are told about them was one of my favorite parts of the book, but not nearly enough.

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RobB said...

No Hat rating?!?!?

Mad Hatter Review said...

I kept flip flopping on this hat score so much that I decided to leave it out. If you wanted to press me I'd say somewhere between a 5 and 6.

Patrick said...

I read and reviewed this book last year. I thought it was very amateurish. Seemed like a bad Dresden knockoff. Lilly was an ammoral prick and there was absolutely no catharsis to the story. All the kids in the town died and were forgetten. Oh well.

Agree wholeheartedly about the ghost knife. HATED that.