Friday, December 25, 2009

Review: Fireraiser by Melanie Rawn

When Melanie Rawn made her return to the literary scene with Spellbinder a few years ago it marked a shift in her career. Whereas previously she had written more traditional fantasy (though to call a Rawn novel typical is a misnomer) she was now writing an urban fantasy/paranormal romance in a contemporary setting. Spellbinder was enjoyable but there were a few kinks to work out and I believe she has done just that with the sequel Fire Raiser as well as shifted a style again.

Set a few years after the events of the previous novel Hollie and Evan are now married and have twin children. They have moved from New York to Pocahontas county where Holly grew up and Evan is now the local sheriff and busy investigating a rash of fires in Baptist churches around the county. At a fundraiser at a local inn Holly and her relatives sense magic in the building that was cleansed of all magic a long time ago. Clearly the inn and the manager, Weiss, aren’t what they appear.

The beginning was a bit confusing as there is a bit of jumping back and forth in time that wasn’t all that clear but once it got into gear it was plain sailing. What’s interesting about Fire Raiser is that Rawn is generally know for the stories in her novels taking place over gaps of years like in Dragon Prince or the Ruins of Ambrai. Even the Dragon Star novels shift from event to event in a war but the story in this novel is compacted into one night. This really gives Rawn the chance to see how her characters react when thrown in a rather harrowing situation. The best examples of this are Holly’s cousin Cam who has just returned home, has to confront this magical threat as well as deal with the possible love of his life who certainly didn’t expect to encounter again. Whereas the first novel really felt like a standalone Fire raiser is different and there are a number of issues raised to be addressed in a future book so this one definitely felt more like a part of a trilogy. Rawn tackles a number of tough social issues, including the way homosexuals are treated in society and the way they perceive themselves, abortion, human trafficking and does each very well. Rawn also has a few things to say about the process of being a writer, through Holly who of course is a professional writer. This seems to be an increasingly common theme as Brandon Sanderson does a similar thing in the Alcatraz books.

Overall I enjoyed Fire raiser and liked to see Rawn step further out of her comfort zone and expand her literary repertoire. 8/10

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