Thanks to NetGalley and Orbit for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: September 6th, 2016
Synopsis: There’s nothing special about Ben Garston. He’s just a guy with an attitude in a beat-up leather jacket, drowning his sorrows in a downtown bar. Or so he’d have you believe.
What Ben Garston can’t let you know is that he was once known as Red Ben. That the world of myth and legend isn’t just a fantasy, as we’ve been led to believe. And he certainly can’t let you know the secret of what’s hiding just beneath his skin…
But not even Ben knows what kind of hell is about to break loose. A centuries-old rivalry has just resurfaced, and the delicate balance between his world and ours is about to be shattered.
Have you ever read a blurb for a soon to be released book and knew deep down in your bones it was going to be special? This is what happened with me and Chasing Embers and James Bennett is now at the top of my list of favorite urban fantasy authors! While the story has many different characters, the heart and soul of the book is centuries old Ben Garston. He is a flawed hero in every sense. Ben’s age and what he’s seen and been through has a thoroughly believable effect on his worldview and decision making. This is both his greatest strength and weakness. The fact that he’s a dragon able to take human form just adds to his idiosyncrasies. He’s the type of character who is beaten down occasionally, but always rises to fight another day. He may have his faults, but he has a strong moral code, is fiercely loyal, and a staunch defender of those who need him. He’s also unafraid to sacrifice himself and his happiness if that’s what’s needed. What I found most endearing about him though, is that despite his life experience and powers, he’s actually socially awkward. This serves to make him more relatable. Ben’s love interest, Rose, is no mere damsel in distress. Despite his tendencies towards overprotecting her, she pushes back and makes it clear that she is more than able to stand up for herself. Because of this, their relationship is rocky and it’s going to be interesting to see how it progresses in future books. As far as the plot and world-building goes, there’s a lot thrown in here: dragons, mythology, the Fae, ancient gods, etc. In less proficient hands this could have turned into a muddled mess. But Bennett somehow includes all the necessary details without slowing down the pace of the story. He also does a brilliant job at adding to certain myths while still staying true to their origins. I have to say I haven’t been this excited about an urban fantasy series since I read my first Harry Dresden book. I can’t recommend Chasing Embers highly enough to fans of this genre and in particular authors such as Jim Butcher and Kevin Hearne!