by Laura Bickle
Series: Anya Kalinczky #1
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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Truth burns. 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. By Devil’s Night, the spell will be complete, unless Anya—with the help of her salamander familiar and the paranormal investigating team—can stop it. Anya’s accustomed to danger and believes herself inured to loneliness and loss. But this time she’s risking everything: her city, her soul, and a man who sees and accepts her for everything she is. Keeping all three safe will be the biggest challenge she’s ever faced.
Embers is the first novel in the urban fantasy series Anya Kalinczyk by Laura Bickle. The setting is Detroit and focuses on Anya Kalinczyk an arson investigator and physic medium known as a Lantern. She has the ability to see ghosts and crosses entities over who should not be here. This was an intense read as Anya with the help of her friends tries to stop an arsonist. I quickly consumed this novel and will be continuing the series.
As Bickle sets up this world, we meet protagonist Anya. As a Lantern she has the ability to absorb, eat, swallow and remove entities from this world and from the bodies of the possessed. It isn’t something she is exactly comfortable with, but she assists DAGR (Detroit Area Ghost Rescuers) when they need her expertise. DAGR investigates paranormal activity and cleans homes of evil entities. When Anya and her side-kick Sparky remove a demon from a possessed girl it attaches itself to Anya. At the same time, Anya is investigating a series of arson fires. The person responsible is leaving behind strange Egyptian symbols. When a firefighter is killed things escalate. Anya quickly discovers this person is a supernatural being who is trying to summon an ancient creature to destroy Detroit. The tale that unfolds is filled with witchcraft, supernatural elements, myths and enough action to keep you up late as you race to discover what happens.
Anya reminds me of Rachel from the Hollows without the whining. Crap keeps happening to her throughout the book which made it suspenseful but gosh, at times I felt sorry for her. She is tough, fearless and has issues. She is afraid to let herself get too close to anyone but Sparky. She fears she will somehow hurt them. She isn’t completely comfortable in her role as Lantern and hasn’t really learned enough about her skills. With the exception of an incident that occurred involving the arsonist, I liked Anya. Sparky her familiar just rocks! He is a fire elemental who takes the form of a giant salamander. He gets into all sorts of mischief and I adored the scaly little fellow. He is completely loyal to Anya and is invisible to humans. This creates some weird situations for Anya, and deeply affects her love life. Brian is the geeky member of DAGR and he totally has a thing for Anya. He knows about Sparky and what Anya can do, but she keeps pushing him away. Despite her outward attitude, she has feelings for Brian. Watching the sparks fly off these two was fascinating. While this romance takes a backseat to the intense action; I am looking forward to watching it develop. Other team members of DAGR add to the tale, as do the members of the fire and police department. The arsonist Drake is interesting. As Anya learns more about him, I struggled to hate him and Anya feels drawn to him. They share some pretty intense scenes.
The world-building was original and I definitely want to learn more about Lanterns. The supernatural, religious and mythical elements made this tale appealing. There is something about demonic possession that grabs my interest. The witchcraft and summoning completely drew me in. Why not a five rating? From the beginning, I was hooked as Bickle drove us at a rapid, hair-raising pace toward the climactic ending and that’s when we ran out of gas. While I liked what occurred, the delivery felt rushed, and I found myself rereading to understand what occurred. Despite the lackluster ending, I have every intention of reading the next installment to this series.
I recommend Embers to fans of urban fantasy. This was an action-packed ride, with some humorous elements and an awesome side-kick. The next novel called Sparks is currently available and I hope to bring you a review of it over the summer. I have added Bickle to my authors to watch list.