Firelight – Kristen Callihan

Well, that was unexpected. It seems lately that more often than not preconceived notions are upended by half the books I read. I started Firelight almost more to eliminate it from my needs-to-be-read list than with any actual expectation of finishing it; I requested it because my interest was piqued by the Netgalley synopsis (for this is indeed a Netgalley download, my thanks), but it was borderline; I think it was glowing reviews on Goodreads that clinched it (although I always take glowing reviews with a cellar full of salt).

It’s tremendous fun. In some ways it’s not the most original story – but the book manages use fairy tale and myth in a really, really nice way. There’s Beauty and the Beast (the mask Lord Benjamin Archer wears could cover anything, but sends the imagination off to invent the most hideous possibilities; roses; the sisters, and the father fallen from fortune; he sits beside her watching her dine but does not eat before her; she reads to him) and its elder sibling, the tale of Hades and Persephone (personified here by statues at Cheltenham’s home). The old tale is folded in to this new one without the lumps that sometimes leaves; it’s evidence of an intelligent understanding of the fairy tale and myths rather than an attempt to write a kewl hawt new version of an old story.

I like the attention to horses in the writing; any writer who makes a point of specifying that someone is driving a team of Friesians has thereby gained extreme brownie points with me. I like the writing, period; there is a good sense of humor underlying it. The usual Romance Novelese is avoided even in the romantic scenes – and I have to say, they are romantic. I like these characters, and I like them together.

The formatting of the Kindle galley I received is unfortunately a bit wonky, primarily in the first paragraphs of chapters (one letter sits by itself on the first line, the rest of its word sitting below it – a common problem) and when italics are used (the italicized word runs into the next). There are some unfortunate typos – – but I’m getting used to the format and editing issues of galleys, so these did not damage my enjoyment of the book. I only hope anyone who pays for a copy has better quality. It’s definitely worth the risk.


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