When Sebastian Fitz starts to investigate several murders, he expects to find a killer, not a hidden world of witches, werewolves, and demons. It’s overwhelming to say the least. When Fitz is paired with a headstrong new partner, he knows there’s something different about the man, but with bodies piling up, there isn’t time to figure out exactly who or what Ailin Ellwood might be. Or why Fitz is so attracted to him.
Ailin isn’t thrilled to be dealing with a human again. He doesn’t have anything against them per sae, but they tend to be fragile and not particularly reliable. But Fitz is different. Not only does he challenge Ailin at every step of the way, but he demands a measure of equality that Ailin finds refreshing. Yet before Ailin and Fitz can consider a possible relationship, there is an otherworldly murderer to stop and doing so might get them both killed.
So The Enchanter’s Flame was a bit of a muddle. Some parts were intriguing and even enjoyable. And others sections had me wanting to bang my head against a wall. Even several days after finishing it, I’m not sure how I feel about it.
Sebastian and Ailin both have strong personalities that come through clearly. There isn’t much backstory on either of them, but there’s a prequel coming so at the very least Ailin’s past will be more fully developed at some point. Theirs tends to be an antagonistic relationship with a lot of sniping and, at least on Ailin’s part, a lot of evading or hiding of really important information. And this is my first issue with the book. Ailin often makes huge decisions that will affect Fitz, but doesn’t bother talking him about them. He reads Fitz’s mind without permission and never seems to consider this an issue. He also binds Fitz to him magically without asking first. These are life altering choices and Fitz has no input or way to defend himself. And Fitz puts up token arguments, but never really confronts Ailin on these issues in a meaningful way. These were huge private and personal violations that felt glossed over or even brushed aside.
It doesn’t help that Fitz might be an idiot. I mean he fails to question the most curious of Ailin’s behaviors and even as people around him are tossing out words like demons and magic, he’s slow to respond. He’s too naive and too oblivious for believability. No one in The Enchanters Flame seems particularly good at their job and by the time anybody begins to deal with the demon, it’s already killed 16 people. I mean, the level of incompetence is pretty awkward. The plot tends to be overwhelmed on more than one occasion by the need to wedge certain events in place or by rambling conversations between Fitz and Ailin.
Yet, despite all this, there is strength in the world building around Ailin and his coven. When the book focuses on this aspect, it finds its footing, maybe for the first time. And the ending, while prone to excessive dramatics, is interesting and puts Fitz on the path towards a new future.
So where does all of this leave The Enchanter’s Flame? I’m still not sure. I didn’t love the book. There were too many moral quandaries without resolution and the story itself never really gets a chance to shine. But the characters are unique and there is something at the core of The Enchanter’s Flame. If you’re a fan of contemporary paranormal, I’d say give it a chance. It’s not one that reaches my keeper shelf, but others might feel differently.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for Self-Published Book Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of the great prize packs of self-published books donated by some very generous authors. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a Kindle Fire filled with Dreamspun Desires/Beyond books, plus a 3-month subscription!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on Self-Published Book Week here, including a list of all the books in this week’s prize.