Emma D'Evesby professor from the University of Cambridge is being welcomed into the US from the UK. A book catches her eye, one that is reminiscent of medievel times and one that seems to intrigue her love of history. The Dean at the University appoints several mentors to assist Emma in transitioning as she seems unsure of herself at times. However there is noone who is safe when lives are at risk. Will Emma discover the secrets before the clock ceases to tick?
Danger, intrigue and suspense come together to form the storyline. This is a plot building book with description happening progressively. Scenery worked and was descriptive, dialogue flowed smoothly and I was able to connect with the characters fairly well. Although the novel did have a few parts that drug slightly towards the middle it does get better as the book moves along. Hints of faith seemed to strengthen values, however, a few of the conversations amongst the characters casually mentioned sexual situations but did not describe details. A good first novel 3.5 stars! Thanks to Kregel Publications Monarch Books for the complimentary copy for my review.
The book is full of mystery. From the first chapter, the ominous tone is firmly set and carried throughout each page. Some details take awhile to come out--pieces about the main character's life are dispensed in very small tidbits which added to the overall mystery.
Emma faces quite a mixed reception when she arrives at Cambridge. Some colleagues treat her warmly and others prove to be rather menacing. Emma's experience of some very real harassment from a colleague along with rumors of the president's moral misconduct created quite a bit of tension and foreboding. I was surprised at how long the harassment went on between Emma and another professor and nothing was done until she became in very serious danger. And the book ends before justice is served--adding yet more mystery to the storyline.
Reading this book was like venturing through an elaborate maze with twists, turns and redirections. Unfortunately readers will not find the exit in book one. By the end of the book, Emma hasn't even cracked open the journal that she was so obsessed with researching. I can appreciate the strategy of leaving readers hanging so they'll buy the next book. But I can't help feeling as though some may be turned off with the absence of closure on so many different fronts.
I would put this book into a somewhat more "edgy" Christian fiction category. Christianity was woven into the book as more of a philosophical discipline--along the lines of an academic exercise. The main character claimed to have had a conversion experience but some of the choices she made did not line up with behavior I would expect from a born-again believer. I can understand pre-Christian indiscretions. But I would expect them to be viewed as wrong in hindsight. I never honestly felt as though Emma felt true remorse for those past decisions. And Emma also made what I consider morally wrong choices even after her conversion--actions that within the confines of the first book seemingly had no consequence.
Usually it's obvious within the first few chapters where the book is going. So to get all the way to the end and find out that one character may be something other than human was a little frustrating as I have difficulty reconciling my faith with paranormal stories. Obviously the paranormal genre is extremely popular right now so for those readers looking for a clean alternative with Christian overtones, C. F. Dunn's Mortal Fire may be a good choice. Just be prepared to remain in suspense before learning the rest of Emma's story.
Seeking access to a seventeenth-century journal, history Professor Emma D'Eresby leaves England for a temporary position at a prestigious university in America. Her arrival sparks a flurry of curiosity at her British accent and her surprising area of expertise examining the historical use of torture for the "benefit and salvation of the recipient". She soon catches the eye of several male admirers, one of whose attention grows increasingly disturbing by the day. When Emma is attacked, she is rescued by a doctor, Matthew Lynes, who she finds herself growing to love, a doctor shrouded in mystery, a man who appears to be connected to the past and the truth Emma is seeking to uncover.
Mortal Fire is a book of suspense, of secrets, of unexpected developments, and I was held captive by the tale that Dunn has woven. Emma is a brilliant character, someone who is smart and unique, with an interesting personality that makes you want to spend time getting to know her. I enjoyed the moments of humour sprinkled throughout the book, while the scene where Emma is attacked is utterly chilling. My one criticism of the book is that at times Emma's infatuation with Matthew and her dealings with other admirers felt a bit more juvenile than I would have liked, detracting somewhat from my enjoyment of the character. However, taken as a whole, I greatly enjoyed the book, finding it to be well-written and action-packed, leaving me craving more.
As with most books in a series, I came to the end with more questions than answers, but with enough hints to what is going on to make me appreciate what the author has accomplished. Mortal Fire is an excellent debut novel, and the author has gained a new follower as I highly anticipate the next book in the series, and the further revealing of Emma's story and that of the mysterious Mathew. 4 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Monarch Books, as distributed by Kregel Publications, for the purposes of this unbiased review.
Emma D'Eresby is a professor of history at Cambridge, following in her grandfather's profession. She specializes in the history or torture. Her grandfather had studied an obscure seventeenth-century journal and had left her a portion of the journal he had copied. She is obsessed with being able to study the journal in its entirety.
The opportunity comes when she is offered a post at an exclusive university in Maine. This university has the journal in the library's rare manuscript collection so Emma leaves Cambridge to take the year long post.
Life for Emma becomes complicated as a colleague attempts matchmaking. Then there are brutal attacks on women she thinks might be the work of a sinister English professor. And most distracting of all is her growing attraction to Dr. Matthew Lyons, a handsome yet secretive man.
This novel is Dunn's debut entry into the genre of paranormal romance. While the novel takes place in America at an exclusive university in Maine, the writing style is British. If you like P. D. James or Elizabeth George, as I do, you'll like this book. If you want a novel that moves at a fast pace, this may not be the one for you.
There is definitely the paranormal, or supernatural, element in this novel. As the story progresses, the evil element builds. But there is a "good guy," too, with abilities beyond that of regular humans.
The Christianity in this novel follows after the British style. It is not the evangelical, church going, kind of Christianity we expect in American novels. There is definitely a sense of good and evil, and Emma is squarely on the God side of the battle.
One warning. This book is the first in The Secret of the Journal series (chapter one of the sequel is included in this book). Usually, each book in a series is pretty much self contained and can be enjoyed on its own (especially the first in a series). That is not the case with this book. There are loads of loose ends left hanging at this book's completion. This novel could well have been described as "Part One" of the series, giving one the warning that only part of the story is told in this novel. Much more must come in the next novel to make full sense of this one.
If you like to read the kind of novel that will get the hair standing on your neck, read this one. But be prepared to wait for the sequel to finish the story!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel for the purpose of this review.
Knowing that C.F. Dunn is "across the pond," I figured British spelling and vocabulary would be used throughout the book. I was not disappointed. For those of you wondering if it detracts from the story, please know that it does not. In fact, as Emma is from the UK, it lends an air of authenticity to the story.
When we come across a traffic accident with a fatality within the first few pages, I wasn't sure what to expect. After all, I was just being introduced to the characters and I didn't really know their motives yet. Reading on, I found myself being sucked into the story as Emma, being a stranger in a strange land, found her way amongst the academia and was introduced to new friends and some unsavory characters on staff.
I enjoyed getting to know her colleagues and students (from Emma's perspective) and enjoyed the conversations about Emma concentration of history and how it has shaped her beliefs. I even enjoyed the anticipation of a blossoming relationship that held immense mystery. But as a librarian, I doubly enjoyed Emma's trips into the land of literature to find the journal she so intensely wanted to understand. I even understood her actions with the journal, but was disappointed that she was stopped so violently from learning its secrets.
The characters are complex and multi-faceted. Just as I thought I understood what they were thinking, something would crop up and completely change the direction of my own thinking. (Isn't this true of us as living humans as well?) I'm completely engrossed in the story and want to know what happens next. No, I need to know what happens. Does Emma discover the mysteries surrounding her recent relationship? How will she react to the truth that she so desperately wants to uncover? And what will the secrets in the journal reveal about her own and others' pasts?
If you enjoy mystery with a hint of romance, you will love this book! Make sure you carve out a chunk of time because you will not want to put it down. It's THAT engrossing. I just hope that book #2, Death Be Not Proud, comes out soon!