Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel

 

Queer Fires is the second book in the Flint and Tinder series and this review may contain spoilers for the series.

Emmett Bradley is going through some things. He’s out of the psychiatric hospital his parents put him into and he’s off of substances, but that doesn’t make Emmett any more settled. He’s out of touch with all of his friends and his former teacher, Jim, is his only point of contact.  Emmett refuses to believe there is anything more than friendship to his relationship with Jim and, although Emmett pushes and pushes Jim at every single opportunity, Jim is the most important person that Emmett has in his life.

Emmett met Chloe in the hospital and hasn’t seen her in almost a year. Yet, when Chloe is being chased by men with guns, she arrives at Emmett’s door and Emmett and Jim are now in the middle of a potential deadly conflict that they don’t understand. The killers wants Chloe and the group has to figure out why, but now Emmett and Jim are interesting to this radical group as well and no one is safe.

On the run again, it’s up to Emmett and Jim to figure out what is going on and try and stay one step ahead of relentless killers. Emmett and Jim are also trying to navigate the relationship between the two of them and since they refuse to talk about it, all lines of communication are jammed up. With their special powers not working at full capacity and danger at every turn, Jim and Emmett need to rely on each other, but the friction between them is making everything else in their life unstable.

It’s been over two years since Ember Boys, the first book in this series, was released and this book was definitely one that I have been waiting for. The Flint and Tinder series is also a spin off from The Hollow Folk series and it really works best to have read all of the books. This series belongs to Emmett, but his history lives in The Hollow Folk books and I would find too much missing from him without that backstory.

Emmett is a great character. Ashe excels at deep and continued character development and all of his characters have great presence. Emmett can be seen as bratty here, and at times he is, but the magnitude of everything he has gone through has changed him forever. He says he really doesn’t care about the scars, but he’s a subject of fascination for many and repels others and on some level it all gets to him every day. His powers that he traded for the scars aren’t even working properly, so as a reader, you have to wonder if it was all worth it.

I didn’t really care for Jim much in the earlier books, but he is growing on me here. He knows he loves Emmett and he finally came to terms with it, but an incident from last book had him trying to shut down those feelings and these guys circle around each other like sharks and prey.

The world building here was less impactful for me. While I (mostly) understood what was happening, the book felt largely transitional as far as the overall plot. The personal relationships between Emmett and Jim, with a cameo from Vie and Austin, are so profound, the larger plot is not nearly as strong and I felt that part of the book was unbalanced. I would read book after book of Emmett doing his Emmett thing and all of the relationship drama that follows, but more solid world building with a clearer focus would have made the book even more enjoyable for me.

There is a third book planned for this series for this year and I am all in for more Emmett and I hope I can entice someone to read along with me as well.