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Child of Fire, by Harry Connolly
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey
Published: 2009
Review Posted: 6/12/2013
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

Child of Fire, by Harry Connolly

Book Review by Joshua Palmatier

Have you read this book?

This is the first book in the Twenty Palaces series by Harry Connolly and is his debut novel. And I thought it was pretty good. The basic premise is that Ray Lilly has done some rather bad things in his past and is now indebted to Annalise Powliss as her "wooden man," basically as her decoy. She sends him in to distract the bad guys and to stir things up, while she takes the bad guys down or sorts through the debris for whatever it is they're looking for. In this case, they've come to the town of Hammer Bay in order to take back the spell book of a rogue magician . . . and eliminate anything magical they find as well. What they encounter is a town with so much unauthorized magic going on that it's nearly impossible to sort out what's going on.
But that, of course, is their job. *grin*

My main issue with the book is that the beginning third is rough. There IS a lot going on in Hammer Bay and for a while what they two run into doesn't make any sense at all, a bunch of seemingly disparate incidents thrown at the reader without any explanation or connection between them. There was enough that I began to wonder if they WOULD ever get explained.

But eventually the author settled into the town and the situation and the plot kicked into gear. Instead of searching randomly, Ray and Annalise begin DOING things and this is where the book took off. Things began to make sense, and once the reader was given something to focus in on--a plot thread that was clear and easy to follow--it drew me in and kept me reading. I write the slight confusion at the beginning of the book off as "first-book syndrome," and would encourage readers to continue reading because everything does smooth out and become clear after that.

One of the best aspects of the book is that--even though there is a good chunk dedicated to a "standard" urban fantasy creature--the main plot revolves around something completely different. Harry Connolly has set up something I haven't seen in any other urban fantasies out there: creatures that come from a void and have nothing to do with earth or traditional "bad guys." These predators, as he calls them, seek out our dimension and our life in order to annihilate it. And these powerful creatures can be summoned to our world by magicians. It begins to sound like these are demons, but there aren't any religious connotations assigned to them, and the one we encounter in this book isn't anything like any demon I've ever read before.

So, a good first novel, enough that I plan on reading the second novel, Game of Cages. Definitely not like the majority of the urban fantasy out there, and I'm looking forward to seeing where Harry Connolly takes us.
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