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Fire Season
Eri Carter #4
by Stephen Blackmoore
Daw, $7.99, 304pp
Published: April 2019

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.

When I saw this was available, I immediately jumped at the chance to read it. I’d read “Dead Things”, the first in the Eric Carter series and had enjoyed the gritty feel of the storytelling. “Fire Season” is the latest in the series and the premise is intriguing. The action flows and the characters are engaging. Before you even realize what’s going on, you’re deeply immersed in the story and won’t come up to breath until you finish.

First, I love that Stephen Blackmoore isn’t trying to write the typical mage series. Eric Carter is grittier and darker than that and following a necromancer much more interesting than the typical urban fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, I love most urban fantasy but I like that the premise is different and the story darker than the typical story out there. I also appreciate the refreshing lack of romance or at least not anything overt. 

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 lets go, almost like a punch to the guts. The story is visceral since it’s told in first person point of view and in present tense.  The decision to use 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 pacing kept me turning the page and reading as quickly as I could so I would find out what happened next.

Beyond the main character, the other secondary characters are equally interesting, from the antagonists to the people Eric recruits to help him along the way. No one is black and white and so few are pristine or perfectly good. This is a dark story but there are those you empathize with along the way, even Eric.

The world-building is awesome, every detail shining a light on either the main character, the secondary characters or the plot, with every detail mattering. We even get to delve into Eric’s family history, with more details about his family, some of their collection of artifacts and how his Browning works. I loved the attention to detail and the work that went into this, including the development of Eric with his language choices, dialogue, his tattoos and all the little quirks that make up the character.

The plot is intriguing, with enough mystery to hold your attention. I loved the flow. The only detail that took me by surprise and took me a bit to get used to was the use of the extreme first person, present tense. But overall, the end result was a very immersive story so the technique works well for this novel.

In my opinion, the author gets better and better. I loved the story and look forward to more.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. ~~ Andrea Rittschof

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