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BOOK REVIEW: City in Embers by Stacey Marie Brown

| 2 February 2015 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: City in Embers by Stacey Marie Brown

Twisted Fairy Publishing
February 2015
eBook, $3.99
Reviewed by Aly Locatelli


Only a few months ago, I was a collector. I hunted fae.
Now, I am the one hunted.

City in Embers is the classic example of clever plot, good execution, but flat characters and writing.

Zoey Daniels is a seer, one gifted with ‘the sight’ — she can see the fae. After years of jumping between foster homes and fighting for survival, she is recruited to DMG (the Department of Molecular Genetics) where she is assigned to hunt the fae at night and bring their bodies back for experiments — and tests to cure human diseases. At DMG, Zoey meets Daniel, falls in love, and comes closer to finding a cure for her disabled sister, Lexie, whose wheelchair makes her a target of the nastier gangs in their neighbourhood.

Zoey will do anything to save her family, and her job forces her to see fae as nothing more than beasts and monsters — they are to be feared and to be captured. Nothing more, nothing less.

The man’s lip twisted in a scowl as he took off running. Scrambling up, I tore after it. Him. Whatever. In reality, he was fae. And fae meant vile, threatening, loathsome creatures.

One night, Daniel and Zoey are called out to the city, where there is a fae attack. Their instructions: capture them and bring them back to the lab.

His dark blond hair looked long, but lines of tight braids were snug on either side of his head, causing the top to look like a Mohawk. His face was thick with stubble and hard cheeks and bones. He had a tattoo on one side of his neck, disappearing under his shirt… — a modern Viking.

But the mission fails. That night, disaster strikes Seattle. Zoey loses everything and everyone she loves in the blink of an eye, thanks to a fae magic storm that levelled the city.

In the distance, I could make out a hazy outline of Seattle’s Space Needle crashing in large chunks, heading for the earth below.
There were no words to explain the sound of the violence as the world shook and Seattle’s icon made contact with the ground. The only thing I knew with certainty was I was going to die here.

Something is wrong, though. Something isn’t right. When Zoey returns to DMG, bloody, battered and bruised, she is taken into custody. She is no longer human, they say.

She is fae.

“What?” My lids dropped into a defensive glare.
“How is it possible?” The timbers of her [Sera’s] voice went up.
Kate glanced between the two of us. “What is it, Sera? What’s wrong?”
Sera looked at her then around the room. “You don’t see it?” All sets of eyes landed on me, then to Sera in confusion.
“See what, Sera?” Rapava came around the table.
Sera licked her lips, her attention coming back on me with even more intensity. It was as if she were reassuring herself that what she saw was real. Something in my gut cramped with warning.
“Her aura.” She pointed around me. “It has magic in it. It’s thick and swirling with colors. She has a fae’s aura.”

Now, Zoey is on the run with the help of the Viking fae, Ryker, who wants his magic back and a narcoleptic monkey-sprite who owes Zoey a favour because she saved his life.

It was a good book but it had the potential to be amazing. What started off as an action-packed, action-driven story quickly melted away to inconsistent writing, plot holes, sex-oriented thoughts/conversations and a palpable awkwardness in terms of Zoey’s past. We’re told she was a good street fighter, yet the few times she is seen fighting, she is quickly knocked out and waits to be saved.

Zoey is revered as “The Avenging Angel” who beat up a gangster’s sister. In one scene, she is kidnapped and forced to ‘fight’ against ‘Crazy Kat’, a member of a gang that we know relatively nothing about. Zoey is so specially frightening that people got t-shirts with her name on the front, and she has hundreds of fans who scream when they hear her nickname. It sounded too fake and unbelievable to truly enjoy, when one takes into consideration how she couldn’t defend herself in the rest of the book, how quickly she passed out and/or waited for someone to jump into the fray and save her.

Another point is the relationship between her and Ryker, the fae-Viking Wanderer who lost his powers to Zoey during the storm. One moment, Zoey is crying over the loss of Daniel and the next, she’s sizing up Ryker as her next meal. One moment, Ryker calls her ‘human’ and treats her as a slave, and the next he’s all over her like a dog with a well-deserved treat. There was no consistency between the two, which gave the book a sense of imbalance.

Thirdly, we’re given a taste of Zoey’s past on every page: drugs, alcohol, attempted rape. The author makes sure to remind us how terrible her life was before DMG and Daniel and, frankly, it got annoying after a while, considering it served no purpose to the actual storyline. The writing was jilted and awkward: Zoey’s eyes were constantly referred to as ‘lashes’ or ‘lids’. Tears were referred to as ‘liquid rimmed my lids’, ‘liquid drooped from my lashes’ but never actually tears or eyes. The twists were predictable but some were good enough to keep me reading.

The only reason this is getting a higher rating from me is because of Sprig, the narcoleptic monkey-sprite. He’s just too amusing.

“I am going to talk to you all day long. I can’t get enough of chatting with my favourite Viking.”
Ryker rubbed at the tension between his eyes.
“So… what’s your favourite color? Mine’s yellow. It’s such a happy color. And no, it’s not because it’s a color of a banana. I actually hate them. Icky fruit. Honey is yellow. What is your favourite food?”

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

About the Author ()

21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.

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