Fireborn. Book Review

fireFIREBORN by Keri Arthur
Piatkus, p/b,370pp, £8.99
Reviewed by Pauline Morgan

It might be understandable to think that writers might have run out of dangerous supernatural or mythical beings to make-over as sexy. After all, the urban landscape over the last decade or so has been peppered with vampires and werewolves with the odd goblin, troll and fairy thrown in. Even angels and demons have been given the treatment. Keri Arthur has fond another one.

Emberly Pearson is a phoenix. Like all supernatural creations, there are checks and balances in the existence of a phoenix. In human form, she is an attractive, sexy redhead. She can become flame at will. Her life partner is Rory, another phoenix. They are friends and lovers, but not in love. Sex between them is essential if they are not to spontaneously combust and they have a special heat proof room in their Melbourne home where they can indulge. This is a problem because, Emberly’s soul-mate is Sam Turner, a human. They split up before the start of this novel because he couldn’t accept her dual nature and the fact that she needed time with Rory to survive. A phoenix can be killed and will be reborn from the fire but only if their phoenix partner is on hand. Thus, by arrangement, only one of the pair will engage in dangerous activities. This time round it is Rory. He is a fireman, she’s a research assistant. Not that this agreement stops Emberly getting into trouble.

Emberly is subject to prophetic dreams, mostly of nasty things about to happen. When she dreams that Sam is going to be killed, she is determined to stop it, even though he will hate her for interfering. The potential killers are something new on the streets. Called red cloaks they are a kind of vampire created when a lab experiment went wrong. Despite knowing what Sam is facing, she’d prefer a peaceful life. Then her boss is killed and she becomes a target for the red cloaks. Whoever is directing them thinks that she has information that they want. Life gets more complicated as her ex, Sam, is the officer in charge of the investigation into the murder and she meets Jackson Miller, a Fire Fae. She is not sure if he is friend or foe, but she is sexually attracted to him.

In many respects, this novel follows a similar pattern to other urban fantasies aimed at an adult market. The supernatural characters are in the front of the action with humans playing a much lesser role. There will be a romantic element, probably with explicit sex. As there are a lot of supernatural fiction books aimed at the Y/A market and probably read by younger teens, it might be prudent for publishers to consider putting a Parental Guidance label on the cover. Where the author is female, the narration is likely to be first person from a female perspective. Fireborn is all of those. What makes this different is that it is set in Australia and has a phoenix as a central character. If that is the kind of book you enjoy, you will be happy reading this one. It is not intellectual but it is action packed and great fun.