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CHILD OF FIRE
by Harry Connolly
Del Ray/Random House, September 2009
352 pages
$7.99
ISBN: 0345508890


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Ray Lilly knows he is going to die, and that Annalise Powliss is probably going to be the one to kill him. Still, he does what she tells him to, no matter how little reason she gives him, no matter how bizarre the assignment. He has agreed to be her "wooden man," even though he doesn't find out until it's much too late exactly what that involves.

Annalise Powliss is a member of the Twenty Palace Society, a group of sorcerers. One of their prime objectives is to kill anyone else practicing magic, anyone not a member of their group. Why that is the mission is never quite explained, just accepted as given. The world Powliss inhabits is basically our world, just with magic that we mostly don't know about.

Lilly and Powliss are in Hammer Bay, where children are spontaneously combusting, turning into nasty worms, and then being wholly forgotten once they are dead. Not a nice place. All the power seems to come from a local toy factory; the people of Hammer Bay are very protective of the Hammer family, and particularly Charles Hammer, who runs the factory. As one might imagine, Charles Hammer is the man Powliss is after. He's not easy to find.

In the course of battling evil, Powliss is wounded, almost mortally. In spite of his misgivings, Lilly does everything he can to keep Powliss alive. He also lets himself become personally invested in destroying the evil in Hammer Bay. This causes complications all the way around.

CHILD OF FIRE could be, and has been, compared to Jim Butcher's THE DRESDEN FILES. It would be accurate to say that if one likes Butcher's work, Connolly's will have some appeal. Butcher has more of a sense of humor, perhaps. CHILD OF FIRE is a darker book, with less hope for long-term redemption, although it is quite obvious that this is the first in a series. Lilly is still alive at the end, and there seems to be plenty of work for the Twenty Palace folks.

P.J. Coldren lives in northern lower Michigan where she reads and reviews widely across the mystery genre when she isn't working in her local hospital pharmacy.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, August 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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