*e-book purchased from Amazon.com*
Regina’s Rating: 4.5 stars/Grade A+
Why did I wait so long to read this book? Perhaps, because I expected it to fizzle out for me. I thought it might catch my attention at the beginning but then ultimately get boring. This was my expectation because with very few exceptions most urban fantasy books have been causing this reaction in me for the past 12-18 months. Fire Baptized is different than most urban fantasy books I have read and as a result I devoured it in 24 hours. I loved it. Simultaneously, it shares a lot in common with the very good and memorable Urban Fantasy books .
Kenya Wright has created this amazingly unique but believable setting of an urban fantasy world in our present time but which exists in a slightly altered reality where supernaturals are known and exist in a variety of creatures: shifters, fae, vampires, demons and witches. Humans have branded all supernaturals and imprisoned them to live in caged cities. Among the supernaturals there is prejudice against “mixies” which are the result of mixing between two different supernatural races. Two of the main characters are mixies, Zulu and Lanore. The other main character is MeShack and he is a shifter. The story revolves around these three characters but is told from the first person point of view of Lanore.
The characters are young, college aged and the setting is very dark, very gritty and very urban. The cage this group of supernaturals lives in is located in Miami and the focus of the religion and culture is Santeria. I haven’t read another urban fantasy book with a similar setting (Miami), a cultural focus of non-European white and a mythology focus on Santeria. If anyone has – please share, I am interested in reading it. I am aware of Outside the Bones, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.
Ms. Wright richly develops the world her book takes place in without the typical information drop that so many fantasy and urban fantasy books suffer from. Instead, readers learn what they need to as the book progresses. And thank you for that! I hate info drops. The book centers around some bizarre murders and Lanore’s desire to track down the murderer but, thank goodness, the detective aspect is not overdone or boring.
Lanore is not perfect. In fact she is pretty flawed. She is a thief, some readers may be irritated by her sexual boundaries (I am not one of those readers by the way) and she has little trust in authority or those around her. She is still living with and most likely still in love with her ex-boyfriend, for complicated reasons, and she is very interested in a man who is involved in a political revolutionary group for which she co-leads.
Many, most (all?) popular urban fantasy, paranormal romance and fantasy books have as their focus a couple being brought together. Love seemingly conquers all and is exclusive – once the couple acknowledges their feelings for each other the attraction and sexual feelings for anyone else disappear. But is this realistic? Not in my world. I have found, that sex, love and dating is not as linear and perfect as the monogamous ideal portrayed in most genre fiction. Fire Baptized may uncomfortably push the boundaries for many people. Lanore is clearly interested in two men, her interest and ambivalence is not a secret. And both men are likable, sexy and deserving of her attention. But I gotta say I prefer MeShack.
There are detailed sex scenes (thank god), more detailed murder and gore scenes, emotional background stories, the death of characters and some gritty strip club scenes. All good stuff. I have already bought the second in this series and am hopeful that Kenya writes the third in this series and completes it soon!
Habitat Series by Kenya Wright:
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