Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Ritual of Fire, by J. A. Cipriano (author), J. L. Hendricks (author)

Hendricks & Cipriano, October 2017

Alyson Andrews is a dragon shifter, as far as she knows the last dragon in the world. She was away at school when her family was murdered, by people still unknown.

She's also an FBI agent, in a very secret unit of the agency. Her partner, Vlad, is a 200-year-old vampire. Right now, they're investigating a series of what appear to be ritual killings of paranormal individuals--witches, shifters, etc. At the site of the latest killing, Alyson smells something very, very bad--an herb used only in death magic.

And as she and Vlad drive away from the scene, they're attacked with grenade launchers.

Something very strange is going on.

It gets stranger when they realize they can't call in to section headquarters. The line rings and rings, but no one picks up.

Vlad and Alyson have an interesting and sometimes tricky mix of strengths and weaknesses. Vlad, of course, needs to sleep during the day. Alyson's parents died when she was still a young teen, meaning they never taught her a lot that she really needs to know about her abilities as a dragon, and the customs and traditions of her kind. They suspected they were being hunted by someone, and that magic was involved. Because of this, Alyson suspects witches, but there has never been any real evidence one way or the other.

Alyson lacks patience. Vlad has the patience learned from two centuries of life. Their personalities mesh and clash interestingly, too.

Despite her own reservations, Alyson reluctantly agrees to Vlad's proposal that they go visit some friends of his.

Some witch friends.

The great witch and her coven.

Along the way, they stop at a sketchy bar Alyson knows so Vlad can shelter from the daylight sun. That's where they learn that the phone lines and a good deal else have apparently been taken down by eco-terrorists. What awful timing!

They don't know how complicated their problems are going to get.

I don't ordinarily like vampire stories. This really isn't a vampire story. Nor is it really a shifter story. These elements are present, though, as are witches and werewolves and halflings, and other paranormal beings are at least implied.

Its core, though, is an investigation of a series of major crimes, in a world where these things are present and real and significant enough that the FBI has a section devoted to the related problems, staffed by paranormals who can deal with them. It's a book that kept pulling me back even when a lot of other things going on in my life were pulling me away from it.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the authors, and am reviewing it voluntarily.