Wednesday, December 6, 2017

ARC Review: Flame in the Dark by Faith Hunter

Series:     Soulwood #3
Pub. Date:Dec. 5, 2017
Publisher:Ace/Roc Books
Length:368 pgs
Source:NetGalley

The Soulwood series is so freaking unique and captivating that I simply cannot get enough of it. The diverse cast of paranormal characters, supernatural abilities, and action and suspense keep me glued to the page from the first word to the very last. I definitely recommend that you start this series from the beginning so you have the full story on our diverse cast of characters.

Nell Ingram, our special agent and widder woman from East Tennessee continues to surprise and evolve from her cult/church upbringing. I have really enjoyed watching Nell blossom (literally) and grow into an independent woman, who has become slightly more worldly with each book. Her common sense approach to life is refreshing, and her new experiences out in the world away from the church are usually humorous as all get out. 

I particularly like Nell's budding romantic flirtation and relationship with Occam, our southern werecat. Occam's fun and flirty banter always makes me smile, and I can imagine that "Nell, sugar" drawl perfectly in my ear. There were some tense moments involving Occam in this book, and I did get a little teary toward the end. But I am really looking forward to this unfolding relationship and can't wait for Occam to teach Nell how a woman should be treated.

Nell's little sister, Mindy (Mud), also featured more heavily in this installment, and she is an awesome little girl. Mud and Nell have so much in common, and I think having Mud around will show us a different side to Nell. It will be interesting to see if interacting with Mud and her family more will bring Nell closer to the church, or if Nell will be able to bring the church out of their backwards thinking ways.

But the main gist of this story was all about the action and suspense, and our PsyLED Unit 18 coming together to find the new paranormal baddie. This particular villian is very hot and seems to be targeting a very powerful political family in Tennessee. With active shooters and pyromaniacs running around, the team seemed to be one step behind and in danger much of the time. But Nell always persists and seems to get the important job done despite her lack of education and world experience. The suspense plot was definitely interested and well-planned. The whole of the story moved along at a fast clip and kept me motivated to read this book in one sitting.  (The only down side being now that I am finished, I have a book hangover that I know is going to last a while!)

I commend Faith Hunter on her imagination because Nell is something wholly unique in urban fantasy. I do hope this series is as long-running as Jane Yellowrock as I enjoy both series immensely. Not to mention, I love that the series are set in two of my old home towns - Knoxville and New Orleans. So much fun!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Ace and Roc Books.

About the Author

New York Times and USAToday bestselling fantasy author Faith Hunter was born in Louisiana and raised all over the south. Altogether she has 40+ books in print under the names Gary Hunter, Gwen Hunter, and Faith Hunter. As Faith, she writes two contemporary Urban Fantasy series: the Jane Yellowrock series, featuring a Cherokee skinwalker who hunts rogue vampires, and the Soulwood series, featuring earth magic user Nell Ingram. Her Rogue Mage novels are a dark, post-apocalyptic, fantasy series featuring Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage. The role playing game based on the series, is ROGUE MAGE, RPG.

Twitter: @hunterfaith
Yellowrock Securities: http://www.yellowrocksecurities.com  
Gwen Hunter: www.gwenhunter.com


How Occam Got His Name (Part 9)
Serial Short Story
by Faith Hunter
(follow the tour for the other serial installments)

They said it was a miracle he survived. A miracle he didn’t lose use of his arm. Even more of a miracle that he was mostly healed on the day they buried Wayman. His daddy gave a ranting drunken eulogy and sermon about demons and devil cats and evil and the hero who had scared off the monster and then brought his friend home. Except Trace knew he wasn’t a hero. A hero woulda saved Wayman, not let him die. But the adults kept saying different. And Wayman’s mama hugged onto Trace all through the service and burial, squeezing him the whole time, crying.

***

When they got home, later that night, his daddy led him to the root cellar in their rented house. And showed him the cage. It had a mattress, his sleeping bag, and two water bottles, one to drink from and one to pee in. “You’ll be sleeping in it for the next month. It’s for your own good, son. If the devil got into you, and you’re possessed, then you put your mama and me in danger. Understand?”

Trace lifted his hand and touched his shoulder. His healed shoulder. Did devils heal? “I thought only God healed.”

“If God healed you, we’ll know it after the full moon.” Daddy tilted up the bottle and drank down more whiskey, stinking of sweat and whisky and something else. Maybe fear. Not a smell Trace had ever smelled before. “Just through the full moon,” Daddy said. “Get on in there.”

Trace got in. The cage door clanged shut.

Trace slept in the cage every night until the full moon.

The horizon was visible through the window set high on the root cellar wall. The glow of moonrise was brightening the sky. The first rays of the full moon shined through the window.

The moment the moonlight appeared, the pain started. It was a stabbing, wrenching pain in his shoulder. The torment grew. And it grew. Trace got so hot he thought he might explode. Bones popped and shifted around. He grew fur. His thoughts went all muddy and confused. That was the night of his first shift. And his daddy watched the whole thing, drinking whiskey, silent.

The next morning, his daddy didn’t let him out of the cage. Didn’t give him clothes to replace the ones he’d torn up and peed on during that long, terrifying night. Daddy didn’t give him nothing. Instead, near sunset, Daddy bumped and carried the cage up the rickety stairs and outside. To the truck that smelled of dogs and cats and horse manure. And Mr. Rodrigues. It was odd how Trace knew that. Odd but not so scary as the night before.

As the moon rose, round and silver and beautiful, the transformation began again. Trace understood. The cat that bit him was a demon. The cat bite had put the demon into him and now Trace was a demon cat. He’d be a demon forever.

And the world fell away.

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Soulwood