Feb 282013
 
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fire spirits

Series Review: Fire Spirits by Samantha Young
Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Overall Rating – 4 Skulls: B+

Samantha Young is better known for her popular contemporary romance novel On Dublin Street, but she is also a prolific writer of Young Adult Urban Fantasy. Today we bring you reviews of the first 3 books in her Fire Spirits series, so you can enjoy them before April’s release of the latest installment – Darkness, Kindled.

smokeless fire

Book 1: When eighteen year old Ari Johnson is transported from her bedroom into the chilling realm of Mount Qaf – home to the terrifying and mercurial Jinn – she learns a truth that rocks her very world. Suddenly her anxiety over college and her broken friendship with Charlie seem like small change compared to the war she now finds herself stuck in the middle of. Her unease isn’t lessened any by the hot guardian, Jai, who won’t stop following her around everywhere – a Jinn whose loyalty Ari hates to question but must. She has no idea who she can trust.

When the truth burns through her life in its determination to turn it to ashes, Ari will have to battle with ancient deadly creatures, epic family drama and heart-wrenching romantic entanglements.

Smokeless Fire surprised me. I got it as a freebie so my expectations were low. Big mistake. The world building was intricate, the plot was engaging without being convoluted and the characters were full of depth, the kind you can understand even when you don’t agree with their actions.

Ari is apparently a normal girl. She’s having second thoughts about going to college and feels alienated and alone, specially because she’s dealing with her friend Charlie and his substance abuse problems. She’s been in love with him for years but she doesn’t know how to help him overcome his self destructive habits. She’s very loyal so I could understand why she gave Charlie the time of day  even when he was an asshat. And let me tell you, the things Charlie does to her tell you right away he’s not the guy for her.

Enter Jai, a Jinn guardian and all around hot stuff. He’s charged to protect Ari once is discovered that she’s very important. The plot centers around the conflicts among the different Jinn Kings and how unbeknownst to her, Ari is at the center of it all. She’s frightened, upset and has no idea who she can trust in a world of mythical beings with special powers. I know next to nothing about Jinn mythology so I liked this world of chaos and balance.

As it’s common in YA, there is a love triangle but it’s somewhat different than the ones I’ve seen before. For once, both guys don’t give her the time of day and she’s the one interested in both (at the beginning she’s after one, at the end she likes the other.) Neither wants a relationship with her for reasons of their own. Yes, they like her but both feel they are not the right for her.

Overall, a great beginning to a series, specially for those who like their Urban Fantasy with a healthy dose of romance.

Rating:  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

scorched skies

Book 2: When blood is shed and life is lost, the reality of Ari’s position as both hunter and prey finally sets in. It seems her father will stop at nothing to force her will to his own and distracted by Charlie’s latest mistake and her seemingly misguided attraction to Jai, Ari never thought to fear anyone else but the Jinn King. Blindsided and attacked, Ari learns a new wolf has joined the hunt. A dark sorcerer believes he knows a way to bleed the power of the Seal and wield it as his own, and he is even less patient than The White King.

The War for the Seal has only just begun… and it’s time for Ari to turn it on its head. It’s time for Ari to stop acting like the hunted. It’s time for Ari to become the hunter.

Scorched Skies is one of those books where you understand where the characters are coming from but you still find their behavior annoying. It’s centered around Ari’s relationships and the pain of rejection and loss. Her father makes a terrible confession that hurts her deeply and she has to deal with the fallout. In this book, the conflicts with the love triangle are more prominent, as Charlie wakes up and realizes his feelings for Ari, at the time when she turns her eye towards Jai.

The conflict in this book is not as exciting as the first one because a lot of the action centers around the emotional turmoil. I wanted to pummel Jai until he was blue in the face. If I known more of his thought process, maybe I would have been more patient with him but I felt so bad for Ari. I was really glad when she decided to be in charge of her destiny.

This author definitely knows how to write sexual tension. Even though this was YA and all, you could almost see sparks flying when Jai and Ari where in the same room. If you want to get the adult version of the club scene, just read it from Jai’s POV – I don’t mean that it was explicit, just that listening to Jai’s thoughts and feelings on the matter made everything more raw. Definitely a must read if you were dissatisfied with this book as I was. This will give you something to tide you over until you read Borrowed Ember.

Rating:  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

borrowed ember

Book 3:  Everything in Ari’s life has been borrowed. But Ari is done borrowing. She believes that finally she will truly own the relationships in her life and to a certain extent have ownership over her future.

But none of that matters when it isn’t up to her…for high in the emerald mountains of Mount Qaf, the Sultan Azazil has been keeping secrets. Even from the Jinn Kings. Secrets that will change everything and bring Ari to the crashing realization that once again she’s borrowed something that will never truly belong to her. Something that is desperate to be unleashed. Something that could destroy them all.

Borrowed Ember caught me off guard.  The first part focused on Ari’s and Jai’s relationship (scorching!) and just when I started wondering if the author knew where she was going, the overall story arc coalesced and the tale became darker, full of loss, disappointment, grief and heartache.

I was shocked by some developments that didn’t turn out as I thought, specially with Charlie. I don’t want to give you spoilers, but just know that in this book he shows his priorities and what kind of man he really is.

I loved the relationship between Ari and Jai, how they understood and supported one another. Ari seemed too mature and understanding of Jai’s foibles at times, but then she’s had to grow fast so it’s not completely outside her character. They were also so hot together! Nothing explicit happens – this is YA after all – but what there was, was scorching. *fans self*

The book ended with a terrible choice for Ari so the reader is sure that whatever follows in the next book will bring her a lot of pain. At least we won’t have to wait too long to find out.

Rating:  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

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D.G.

D.G.I'm a very eclectic reader – I read pretty much everything - so I switch genres after every book. Besides reading, I spend a lot of time with my husband and watching sports (I firmly believe that watching strong men running around in tight outfits is one of life’s simple pleasures.)
 Posted by on February 28, 2013 at 7:35 am