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Embers by Laura Bickle
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Embers (edition 2010)

by Laura Bickle

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1951867,048 (3.47)3
Member:ailish
Title:Embers
Authors:Laura Bickle
Info:Pocket (2010), Edition: 1, Mass Market Paperback, 359 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:
Tags:urban fantasy, fiction, paranormal, supernatural, tbr

Work details

Embers by Laura Bickle

  1. 10
    Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (thewalkinggirl)
    thewalkinggirl: Both series have smart heroes who are more likely to use their brains than their powers to solve problem and both series make good use of mythology.
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» See also 3 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
eh. Firefighter/fire investigator heroine, who is a "lantern" and eats ghosts and stuff. Found her annoying and angsty and not quite bright. I may try one more. ( )
  romsfuulynn | Apr 28, 2013 |
I reread Embers in preparation for Sparks coming out. I loved Sparky and how Bickle was not afraid to improvise on the traditional Happily Ever After formula. I still finished with a lot of background and world building questions, but those are easier to deal with when I know I can go straight into Sparks.

Read Abigail's review at All Things Urban Fantasy. ( )
  Capnrandm | Apr 15, 2013 |
I felt this was a bit different from the usual urban fantasy fare and I really enjoyed it. The protagonist was practical and fairly normal. She has a day job that she loves and it's one that it's hard for women to break into (though that's not mentioned) but she's moved up in the ranks. The descriptions of what it was like to be a firefighter were very good.

The plot was interesting. Though it was clear where it was going from about a third of the way in, the book was still entertaining. The action was mostly good and the beautiful thing was that she kept saving the guys or they got in the way when they tried to help. Once a man jumped in to save her from the baddie when she had the situation under control and as a result said bad guy got away. The last battle was terrific. I just prefer more almost dying on the heroine's part and another character being terrified for her. It probably means I'm sick in the head or something. She was never in enough p

The characterization was so good, that I figured out one guy was Hispanic and several other were African American simply by how she portrayed them. She didn't once tell us the color of anyone's skin. I really liked that because it really bothers me that most writers only mention what color someone's skin is if the person isn't white. And to write a character so well that not mentioning it still puts a clear picture in my head of what the person looks like, including race, is quite a skill.

The character herself wears normal everyday clothing. When she has to dress up she hates it and finally stalks out. At that late hour the only place she can find open is a fetish shop and even then she chose really practical clothes including heels you could dance in. She may not be able to describe a torque (how can a torque that looks like a salamander draped around her neck then have the tail in the salamander's mouth? That would make a loop which is not a torque.

The salamander character however is wonderful and different from the usual familiar/companion of UF protagonists. It's funny and the descriptions are excellent and very believable as an animal as well as her helper.

There were a few awkward things, like in the beginning she assumes the arsonist didn't take anything or look around because the elevator was on the top floor. Then at some point she says he takes his time. He could have looked around and taken small expensive things that he didn't need an elevator for.

Another time is when she has a doctor wearing nurses scrubs. I have never ever seen a doctor in a hospital wear a scrub top with fairies on it and without the white coat no less and I worked in a hospital for a while. Albeit, I worked in IT but still. The hierarchy in medicine is incredibly indelible. Doctors are referred to by last name, nurses by first for starters. And FYI, Circe was not a demon she was a sorceress and somewhat justified in her actions because of how she was treated as a powerful woman (this was just said in passing so it's not a spoiler).

This is a very minor point in the book but it prickled me: A character says basically that urban renewal can't happen in poor areas, the people need plain rectangles in which to live and that the person saying otherwise is out of touch with the poor. This is clearly ridiculous as some of the poorest communities can get together and reclaim a portion of their rundown areas and create amazing parks mostly by getting volunteers and sometimes with donations. Building a new home that isn't a rectangular box isn't really any more expensive or habitat for humanity would build them. When a community has character and art and design that reflects their world view, that area has more pride in itself and it's easier to keep the area from worsening and can often help the people by boosting self esteem etc. I'm not sure if she was trying to say something else but it bothered me that she was trying to represent the poor and was in turn compartmentalizing them.

One of the best parts is that at one point, a firefighter goes into a burning building just to rescue a woman's dogs who all survive.

So despite the small points mentioned above, I wanted to give the book five stars. But...

I like it when characters are not black and white. I like when the evil doer has some pieces of humanity and the good guys make bad mistakes. The world isn't black and white no matter how much we want it to be. But the only character who has no redeeming value is one who is supposed to be a "good" character and that annoys me, especially given that the bad guy isn't completely bad. Having a complexity of good and bad doesn't mean that we as people shouldn't judge people on the majority of their actions or the ones that are particularly heinous. For example, you can have the nicest sweetest man who creates a charity and volunteers at the at-risk-youth center and has supporters and fans all over the US for the good he does as a coach. But if he then also molests and rapes boys, he is not a good guy, not at all. He is not a sympathetic character and shouldn't be.

So bringing us back to the book,
the bad guy has mostly good things he's done in the past and he's got talents to admire. He just now does really horrific things but out of revenge against people who destroyed his life. Oh yeah, that's okay, because he didn't play a part in his own destruction and it doesn't matter that he wasn't specifically targeted. (Read sarcasm here). The author implies that his evil doings now can almost be justified. Okay, I can understand that up to a (very low and small) point. But when the woman who is investigating him sees him as sympathetic I get worried. When she is attracted to him and then kisses and later has sex with him I want to vomit. Seriously, I read those passages with such a look of horror on my face that my kids asked what was wrong and if I was okay.

But the worst of it is, the character is already in love with the primary love interest, who has been hurt by this bad guy, and she has admitted to herself that she wants to be together with him more than anything. So how can she do this to him?? How can she look the good guy in the eye without shame? This character I loved and admired just became someone I don't like at all. The whole point of wanting to belong to something makes sense. But she can be attracted to that about him without sleeping with him. She also never even feels shame or disgust or remorse. She only says she shouldn't have done it in relation to the investigation. Ugh and ARGH!


But despite this thing that makes me really mad, it's a good book and the rest of the time I really like the character. She's a good person and people love her. The author is a good writer (there were a couple of awkward sentences in the beginning but not again). Because she's that good and I loved everything else so much, I'm only taking one star off for the spoiler above. I'm definitely reading the next book soon but there are only two so far. That seems to be my luck lately: books I don't like have the number of titles in the series in the double digits and the books I love have only two or three. I am so impatient. I want them now!
( )
  maybedog | Apr 5, 2013 |
3.5 review to post soon ( )
  kimbacaffeinate | Mar 30, 2013 |
I read a lot of urban fantasy. I love the genre, but I find myself getting pickier as time goes on. There are a lot of good series and some of them are very long, requiring a major investment of time and money. That's a big reason why Embers sat in my to-read pile for over a year. "Do I really want to start yet another urban fantasy series, even if it just consists of two books?"

The short answer: yes.

Embers is a fun, modern fantasy adventure frolic that reminds me of everything I love in the genre. Anya is an arson investigator for Detroit, and is smart and efficient at her job. Her night job is being a Lantern for a paranormal investigative group; she can see spirits of all sorts, but even more, she can absorb the evil ones so they no longer possess or molest the ignorant human population. The conflict of the book emerges when her two livelihoods intersect.

There were also two side characters who managed to steal the show. Foremost is Anya's fire elemental. Part lizard, part dog, and all awesome. Then there's the villain, who comes across as one-note at first and then evolves into an amazingly complex and sympathetic character.

This was absolutely the perfect book to read in a single day while flying across the country, and I will gladly read the next book. ( )
  ladycato | Nov 13, 2012 |
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"Unemployment, despair, anger--visible and invisible unrest feed the undercurrent of Detroit's unease. A city increasingly invaded by phantoms now faces a malevolent force that further stokes fear and chaos throughout the city. Anya Kalinczyk spends her days as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department, and her nights pursuing malicious spirits with a team of eccentric ghost hunters. Anya, who is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, suspects a supernatural arsonist is setting blazes to summon a fiery ancient entity that will leave the city in cinders."--p. [4] of cover.… (more)

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