By Mike Griffiths
Bickle, Laura. Embers. Pocket: March 30, 2010. US $7.99. ISBN: 978-1439167656.
Embers, the debut novel from Laura Bickle, is a dark fantasy, or urban fantasy if you prefer. The word ‘dark’ is more fitting in this case, for the novel is a moody, grim ride through the complex life of Anya Kalinczyk.
Anya is a driven woman balancing two intense lives. Her paycheck is drawn from her job as an investigator with the Detroit Fire Department, and being the key member of DAGR, the Detroit Area Ghost Researchers, uses any free hours she has left.
It is when these two occupations meet that the real trouble begins.
Anya is what DAGR leader, Ciro, calls a ‘Lantern’. A Lantern is a rare individual that can not only see ghosts and other supernatural beings, but can also extinguish them. With the help of her powerful fire elemental familiar, Sparky, she sets out to rid the city of malign spirits that bring misery to the living.
Ayna always attempts to keep her day job with the Fire Department and her work with DAGR separate, but when she begins to suspect that a string of serial arsons might be supernatural in nature, she becomes the only person with any hope of stopping the arsonist. An arsonist who has already claimed the life of one of her fellow firefighters.
Just when she needs to be at her best and get all the help she can muster, things get harder than ever. First, the police are given control of the case. Then not only is DAGR leader Ciro hospitalized, but her potential boyfriend Brian is injured during an exorcism and falls into a coma.
More isolated than ever, she is forced to rely on little more than herself and her wits. Then things only get worse when she realizes this arsonist is attempting to do nothing less that summon the God of Fire, Sirrush.
Anya is troubled and plagued by her dark past. Mysteries surround her and her unexplained powers. Despite her uncertainty about the magick world in which her life is enmeshed, Ayna is a woman with strong convictions. Within Embers, she evolves from being a member of two teams to a heroine.
Embers has something for most fans of urban and dark fantasy. It is an entertaining ride and Anya is a strong character. Readers will quickly find themselves gritting their teeth as Anya is presented with more obstacles, hoping she will have her final victory. Bickle weaves in a large cast of characters, while creating an investigative feel to the story. The book is researched, creative and well written. If you like this type of fantasy, consider grabbing a copy.
You can preorder Embers at Amazon.com.