Genre Fantasy Publisher Del Rey Year Published 2009 Review Posted on 6/12/2013 Reviewer Rating
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
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
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.