Review “Fire Season” by Stephen Blackmoore: Engaging and Immersive

The fourth book of this dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful gods and goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts.
Los Angeles is burning.
During one of the hottest summers the city has ever seen, someone is murdering mages with fires that burn when they shouldn’t, that don’t stop when they should. Necromancer Eric Carter is being framed for the killings and hunted by his own people.
To Carter, everything points to the god Quetzalcoatl coming after him, after he defied the mad wind god in the Aztec land of the dead. But too many things aren’t adding up, and Carter knows there’s more going on.
If he doesn’t figure out what it is and put a stop to it fast, Quetzalcoatl won’t just kill him, he’ll burn the whole damn city down with him.

I read book one of the Eric Carter series ages ago. In my writing and lack of time, I lost track of the series which is why I was excited when I saw this book open to reviews. It would finally give me the chance to read more of Stephen Blackmoore’s work. Not only did I love Fire Season, the newest book in the series but as reading, I found the story immersive and the writing style gritty, keeping me as a reader so engaged in the novel that I barely came up to breath.

There are several reasons the story is as engaging as it is. First, Stephen Blackmoore does his homework. Like most of the authors I’ve thoroughly liked, he has done research to ensure that the magic and mythologies he is using in the novel are realistic and believable. Because he is so good with the details, the reader can make the leap of faith necessary to believe in the world. The mythology of Quetzacoatl, of the gods and goddesses in the story, are used authentically, as they appear in ancient times but also how they have been incorporated into modern day times, their impact on the city of Las Angeles. In addition to the mythology, the magic used in the story by the main character and the other secondary characters is interesting, detailed, and works well in the world the author has created. I like that the main character is utilizing necromancy, such a different type of magic than you see in most urban fantasy.

The main character, Eric Carter is engaging. You can’t ever quite decide if you like him or not but while you’re waiting, he grabs your attention and never let’s go, almost like a punch to the guts. The story is visceral since it’s told in first person point of view and in the present tense. The decision to use the first person immerses the reader in the story and never lets them escape. Much like Eric, you’re along for the ride but unlike him, you’ll enjoy every moment of figuring out what Eric will do next and if he’ll figure out what to do about Quetzalcoatl and the mad assassin he’s enlisted to light the city of LA on fire. That level of engagement in a book is rare and I give kudos to Stephen Blackmoore.

The secondary characters are as interesting as Eric Carter. Santa Muerta, the goddess of the dead is compelling. I found Gabriela (La Bruja) intriguing, her desire to protect the city making her one of the most empathetic characters, along with Vivian who heals Eric, his ex-lover, and Letitia, who is involved with the Cleanup Crew, local politics and trying to hold together her relationship with her wife. None of the characters are boring and all of them have just enough backstory, none of the flat or one dimensional, not even the antagonists in the story.

The plot has just enough mystery and tension to keep a reader engaged and turning the page. The pacing kept me turning the page and reading as quickly as I could so I would find out what happened next. While the use of present tense took me by surprise, taking me a bit to get used to, it was the perfect technique to keep me immersed in the story. Beyond that, I would have liked a more solid ending. It ends on a cliffhanger meaning I’ll have to wait until the next book to find out what happens next.
Overall, the story is compelling, immersive, and the author’s writing has only improved with time. I look forward to more and can’t wait for the next book in the series.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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