Today I’d like to talk about Child of Fire by Harry Connolly. I’ve just passed the halfway mark so I thought it time to do a Halfway Through Book Review. (The segment title should explain itself. If not, here’s a link to the original concept.)
I chose to read this book based on hearing one of my favorite authors, Jim Butcher, had read it and felt he needed to up his writing game. Then I attended a Con where a panel of authors and respected readers shared what they were currently reading. When Mr. Connolly’s name was brought up, they ALL oohed and aahed like they couldn’t believe they forgot to mention him. In short order I bought his first book in the Twenty Palaces series and dove in.
This book has a lot of things going for it. The pacing starts on full throttle and doesn’t let up (at least to where I’m at). Connolly drops you right in the middle of conflict, and fills in back story as needed. No wasting time with boring build up, he gets straight to the combusting bodies.
Please note that the combusting bodies are all children. I won’t lie. I almost stopped reading. Maybe it’s because I’m a father of three, but I detest reading about children dying. I don’t like to watch it in movies or on television, either. I think the only reason I kept reading was because I want to see proper justice dealt.
The only other problems I have with the book mainly point to the fact that I’m reviewing it before I’m finished. I’m frustrated that I don’t know more about the main character, Ray. I know he was in prison just before, but unsure on why. His employer, which seems more of the indenturing type, is still a secret except its name, The Twenty Palace Society. His direct superior is somehow more involved with this case, and is possibly dying from an unhealing burn wound. What frustrate me most is, at this point I still don’t know why he’s in this small town to solve this mystery.
Eventually these will all be answered. So I can’t hold too big of a grudge. But there’s one thing that I can.
Some of his characterizations don’t work for me. He gives me one impression on how a character acts and reacts, then goes and flips it (my perception of it, anyway) in several scenes. I have a hard time swallowing in one scene a character ready to flee from fear, then in the next that same character stubborn and almost unmoving in emotion, and then try seduction in the next. I didn’t buy it.
Is it enough to stop me reading? No. I’ll definitely finish the book. Then I’ll give you my final impression, whether or not it’s worth your time.
Till then, good reading to you.
[EDIT: I found a book trailer for the Twenty Palaces Series.]