Embers by Laura Bickle

Embers
Laura Bickle

The Premise: Anya Kalinczyk is a Lantern, a special type of Elemental with an affinity for fire and the ability to consume spirits. Her day job is as an arson investigator for the Detroit Fire Department, but on occasion Anya gets a call from DAGR (the Detroit Area Ghost Researchers) and uses her abilities to help people with their ghost problems.  Detroit is a place of unrest. Low employment and crime drives more people out of the city every day while ghosts seem to overrun it. Keeping up with a rash of arson as well as with driving out malicious spirits is wearying work, and other than her fire salamander sidekick, Anya is very alone. Now, a serial arsonist is leaving mysterious symbols with his work, and the spirits have begun to talk of something big coming. Something big and associated with fire, and with Anya’s special abilities, she may be the only one able to stop it.
 
My Thoughts: I’ve been interested in Embers for a very long time, but it’s been one of those books that I’d planned to read if I ever ran into a copy and it took a while for that to happen. When I finally had a copy in my hands, I fell easily into its pages. Anya’s life is a fascinating one. An ex-firefighter, Anya now spends her days in the charred hulks of buildings investigating whether or not a fire was actually arson. Every so often she gets a call from DAGR, a ragtag group of mediums and ghost hunters when there is a particularly stubborn spirit that needs removing. By her side is Sparky, a fire salamander that only she can see (who stole the show every page he was on).
 
Unfortunately for Anya, her life is a weary one, especially lately. The calls for DAGR are becoming more frequent as their usual methods aren’t working like they used to. Every spirit she consumes takes it’s toll on her, but this isn’t something DAGR’s leader Jules seems to grasp. And while Sparky is a lovable and rambunctious supernatural pet, Anya is isolated from human connection. Her abilities and Sparky aren’t things Anya can exactly explain to a your Everyday Joe, and letting people near her always seems to end in someone getting hurt. The closest thing she has to a friend is Katie, the DAGR witch (and baker by day) that Anya sees only occasionally, and then there is Brian, a sweet and geeky guy who Anya always pushes away.
 
Sparky is the only constant companion Anya has ever had, but her loneliness is just one facet that makes Anya human. She’s not your kick-ass urban fantasy heroine, she’s just a tired woman trying to make things right. Right now, making things right looks like finding and stopping the supernatural arsonist terrorizing Detroit. But with Anya lonely and tired, she is also vulnerable, and the lines get a little blurry. I felt like Anya wandered into a gray area in a way that I found surprising and yet so-human, and this was a strong point of the book – the meeting of opposing sides that were fascinated with each other. I don’t think I can recall the last time I read a book with such a sympathetic bad guy. I liked it! The only wish I had was that Brian, Anya’s possible romantic interest, could have had as much character development as the arsonist.
 
Overall: In the end, I was pretty satisfied with this urban fantasy. The investigation parts were straightforward but Anya and her opponent had a deliciously conflicting relationship that upped my enjoyment. It’s obvious too that Anya has a lot to learn about who she is as a Lantern and that she needs to drop her walls when it comes DAGR, so I expect more character development and world building to come. This is a promising start to a series and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
 
I have also been informed that the author has an alter-ego: Alayna Williams. More books for me to check out.
 
Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository
 
Other reviews:
Tez Says (a bit spoilery) – positive
Scooper Speaks – positive
Angieville – “exactly what I was hoping it would be”
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Now eying.. Embers by Laura Bickle

This one from Juno books looks promising. Embers by Laura Bickle:

EMBERS

Truth burns. Unemployment, despair, anger—visible and invisible unrest feed the undercurrent of Detroit’s unease. Homes and businesses are increasingly invaded by phantoms and now, with the annual destruction of Devil’s Night approaching, a supernatural arsonist is setting blazes to summon a fiery ancient power that will leave the city in ashes. A sizzling debut from a red-hot new author.

By day, Anya Kalinczyk is an arson investigator in the Detroit Fire Department. At night—accompanied by her elemental familiar, a salamander named Sparky, and an eccentric group of ghost hunters—Anya pursues malicious spirits. The rarest form of psychic medium, a “Lantern,” Anya doesn’t allow spirits to communicate through her with the physical world like most mediums, she devours restless harmful souls and incinerates them. She’d like to get closer to Brian, a ghost-hunting techno-wiz, but a lifetime of those she loves getting hurt makes her hold back. Her two roles mesh when, on the trail of a serial firebug, she discovers an arsonist is attempting to use the fires to rouse Sirrush, a supremely powerful elemental, from the salt mine beneath the city of Detroit. Anya must capture the arsonist before Devil’s Night, when the spell will be complete and Sirrush will rise to raze the city. “