Monday, October 31, 2011
Child of Fire
By Harry Connolly
Ray Lilly is a wooden man. His role is to serve as a decoy while his boss, Annalise, moves in for the kill. As a wooden man, his life expectancy is nil. Which is fine by Annalise because she hates him. He caused the death of a very good friend of hers and she cannot forgive him for that. The sooner Lilly is dead the better as far as she is concerned.
Annalise is a powerful sorcerer, member of the Twenty Palace Society. Their goal is to hunt down and exterminate dangerous renegade magicians. She and Lilly are off to investigate a very successful toy company in a small town where it seems much of the company's success may be based on illicit magic. Before they even arrive at the town, they discover the townsfolk are paying a terrible price for the success of the toy company: the destruction of their children. To feed the demon powering the rogue magician, the children are gradually being consumed in a fiery blaze and all memory of them erased from the community.
The townsfolk love the prosperity the toy company has brought to them and, since they don't remember the many children lost to the demon, they are putting every obstruction in the way of Annalise's and Lilly's investigation. But the demon behind the magician doesn't care about humans and many more will perish in fiery oblivion as it fights to stay in a world that will soon fall victim to its terrible power. This is what Annalise and Lilly must prevent even if it means their own deaths.
This was an exciting story. The relationship between the implacable Annalise and Lilly adds a real depth to the story as Lilly struggles to build trust between himself and his ruthless boss. The story is jammed packed with action as Lilly pretty much fights a running battle between himself and the angry townsfolk who fear Lilly is there to mess up their sweet deal. Meanwhile, the rogue magician remains elusive and protected not only by the townsfolk but also by the demon who is only using the magician in an attempt to gain access to our world. And speaking of the demon, this is no horns, pointy tail and pitchfork kind of demon. It is a creature from another dimension, completely alien to our universe, and with an appetite that would result in the destruction of all humanity if it ever managed to free itself from the magician's control. So not only are Lilly and Annalise trying to save one small town, they are trying to save the whole world.
On the other hand, even though this is a very exciting and engaging story, the body count is really high, starting with a little boy who burns up in front of his parent's and Annalise's and Lilly's eyes. And the the body count continues to mount as the demon possesses its victims and turns them into living flame throwers as weapons against Annalise and Lilly. So even though I did enjoy the story very much, I found all the death and destruction, especially of the little kids, rather depressing and I am not planning to continue on with the series. It's is just too gruesome and grim for me.