Sparks (Anya Kalinczyk 1)
- Laura Bickle
Publisher: Pocket Books
Anya Kalinczyk is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, who holds down a day job as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department—while working 24/7 to exterminate malicious spirits haunting a city plagued by unemployment and despair. Along with her inseparable salamander familiar, Sparky, Anya has seen, and even survived, all manner of fiery hell—but her newest case sparks suspicions of a bizarre phenomenon that no one but her eccentric team of ghost hunters might believe: spontaneous human combustion. After fire consumes the home of elderly Jasper Bernard, Anya is stunned to discover his remains—or, more precisely, a lack of them; even the fiercest fires leave some trace of their victims—and she is sure this was no naturally occurring blaze. Soon she’s unearthed a connection to a celebrity psychic who preys on Detroit’s poor, promising miracles for money. But Hope Solomon wants more—she’s collecting spirits, and in a frantic race against time, Anya will face down an evil adversary who threatens her fragile relationship with her lover, her beloved Sparky’s freshly hatched newts, and the wandering souls of the entire city.
I read and loved the first Anya Kalinczyk story, Embers, earlier in the year (review here) and have been waiting to start reading this sequel ever since. Finally, having decided that July is my joyful reading month – I’m only reading books I want to read and not review copies or other books so this was one of the first books I picked up. And I’m so happy it was!
I love Anya and her fire elemental, Sparky! They are great characters – strong willed, independent and caring. The past still haunts her and here she actually confronts the ghosts of her childhood. Anya continues to be one of those characters that thinks before she acts – a refreshing change in the UF genre! She is still a little aloof from others, but has opened up more since Embers and is moving closer to others particularly with Brian, Katie and even her boss Marsh. There are some great new characters introduced (love Charon!) and while the bad guy’s motivations are not explored in detailed the methods they use is very creepy.
The writing is smooth and comforting – like a bar of milk chocolate and effortlessly transports you to Detroit. The descriptions of the fires and ghosts are particularly realistic and effective. There is a great balance between characters and plot and the pages just flew past. I read this within 24 hours and wish I could have spread it out longer – but I was too greedy. I loved spending time with Anya and Sparky and can’t wait to read more of their adventures – I hope there will be more! This is a great series for those who like intelligent UF with plenty of fun from salamander familiars – just be careful going into a baby store with Sparky! J
Recommended for fans of Illona Andrews and Karen Chance. 8.5 out of 10.