I received this e-ARC from NetGalley and Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review.
Centuries ago Dethan and his three brothers were considered great warriors. Then they angered the gods by seeking out the “fountain of immortality”. Now cursed for eternity, each brother is being punished in a uniquely painful way. Dethan’ s punishment is to eternally burn in Xaxis’ hell. He’s offered a reprieve from his torment when Weysa, the Goddess of Conflict offers him a deal. He will have conditional freedom if he agrees to conquer cities in her name, bringing her new followers, which will help her in winning a war between the gods. Dethan, seeing the opportunity to free not only himself, but his younger brothers, acquiesces. Coming across a city ruled by a weak, ineffectual king, and his corrupt advisor, Dethan knows that this will be his first conquest. Then he meets Selinda, the beautiful but scarred daughter of the king who wishes to help her people but is basically being held prisoner by the advisor who is also her fiance. Dethan finds himself drawn to Selinda and her plight, and while his original plan was focused on saving himself and his brothers, it now grows to include Selinda as well.
Being a long-time fan of Jacqueline Frank’s I have to say that her strengths lie in her incredibly descriptive worldbuilding and the complexity of her characters. While Cursed By Fire begins somewhat similarly like her previous books, it soon goes in an entirely original direction. The gods and goddesses in this book are capricious and cruel much like the Greek and Roman gods, but in a perverse way, that makes them all the more interesting. I absolutely loved Dethan! You would think centuries of being burned alive over and over would have scarred him inwardly if not physically, but no. He’s retained the honor, loyalty and dignity he always had. Selinda I was a little more ambivalent about. I liked her, but I felt she was a little too “damsel in distress” at times. Then again, until Dethan enters the picture, she’s basically alone in her fight to save her people from the corruption being perpetrated by her father and her fiance. I did feel the king and her fiance were too much like the villains in other books, but it wasn’t enough to detract from the story. The romance between Dethan and Selinda is hot and steamy and I loved how their relationship developed. This book obviously focuses on Dethan but the promise is there that each of the brothers will be equally fascinating. The next book, “Cursed By Ice”, is coming out in March and will tell Garreth’s story.
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