~ Tartarus is the realm which cages evil spirits and is guarded by the Furies. Somehow they’re beginning to escape into the mortal world to wreck havoc. Years ago, Alek was born to one of the Furies, and has been trained as a warrior. Now he’s told that unless he finds Eva, the modern-day descendant of Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi, both the realms may fall.
I almost gave this a pass when I saw it offered on NetGalley. I loved the first few books in The House of Night series which Kristin Cast co-wrote with her mother PC Cast, but then the series just fizzled for me. However, the new take on Greek mythology beckoned to me so I thought I’d give it a try, and for the most part I’m glad I did.
As the story begins, Tartarus is weakening because of a curse and the Furies find themselves unable to prevent the evil spirits within from escaping. Alek, who has been trained by his three mothers as a warrior, is now ordered to track down the descendant of the Oracle of Delphi. There’s a twist though. Eva has to die, before her powers are awakened. The majority of the book is spent on Alek tracking down Eva, and the events in her life leading up to her becoming the Oracle. The chapters alternate between the two which I liked. The world-building is interesting, especially the history behind Tartarus, the Furies, and Alek’s conception. The character development however, needs a lot more work. Alek, for all his training is way too innocent. He gets involved in some pretty funny situations because of his naivete, but some of his actions just aren’t believable. Eva is likable, but she’s too trusting and gullible for her age of twenty-three. For example: one scene features Eva parking her car in a dark alley, with the door unlocked, and then she gets back into it without first checking the back seat. Really? Who does that? Once Alek finds Eva, it’s not love at first sight, which I actually appreciated. It’s clear though where their relationship is going. The pacing is a bit slow, but picks up in the latter half of the book culminating in a huge cliffhanger.
So, I think Amber Smoke has a lot of potential. It has a unique spin on Greek mythology, which kept me reading, and the story and it’s characters are compelling enough to make me want to read the next book. While Eva and Alek definitely need more development, I like the two of them, especially once they teamed up. There’s also a nicely written mystery regarding who the villain is that’s after Eva, which helps keep the story moving even when there’s not a lot of action going on. I think anyone who enjoys Greek mythology and the paranormal might want to try this.