Temple of the Inner Flame

4 Stars

I loved this story. Like really loved it. Non-review related but the cover is all sorts of awesome. I admit I skirted by this book a few times cause I’ve travelled down this road before but every time I came past this cover I reread the blurb again and finally said yeah I’ll give it a try. Glad I did.

Kezia is a necromancer who hasn’t quite received all her gifts so can’t make the money she could if she had. She mostly works as a nurse for those who are moving on in life and a bartender at her brother’s bar. What I loved about this story was the way it unfolds. The plot had a very nice rhythm to it for the most part, especially after she begins her quest to solve the death problem at the Temple of the Inner Flame. The secrets she discovers all unfold at just the right moments. The relationship with her ex doesn’t have much of the annoying sassy avoidance drama that tends to permeate through novels of this kind. In fact, it was written well enough that I was secretly hoping something of that subplot would evolve but the author does an exceptional job of stating it’s there but let’s not lose focus it is not what this story is about and as a reader that was a smart choice

The backstories are fleshed out just briefly enough for us to get an understanding of Kezia’s relationship to all the characters involved. There was only one time, a flashback to when she met her husband’s father, that bogged the story down. There was one piece of information in there needed but somehow it felt forced. like that whole scene could’ve been fleshed out better so the lesson learned and character development side of it didn’t slow the reader down. I almost skimmed the entire section trying to get back to the story and might’ve missed a piece of information that is vital to the second book, at least it’s more important to book two in my opinion. The explanation for her strained relationship with her exes father and a good character development bit for her, which are essentially due to the same item, could’ve existed in present-day and kept the flow much better.

The side characters were great. I loved her ex. I have a tendency to not like the main characters in books with romance plots, be they sub or main, because they just do stupid stuff. It’s nice to finally see a levelheaded, does the right thing but life still throws obstacles in the way to test him/them kind of love interest instead of the A-typical guy does a stupid thing to amp up drama and woman does irrational predictable thing also to double amp up the drama and the cycle continues multiple times in one book. It could be the fact this book was so good at keeping on topic that stopped this, but the fact is he was written well and it was a nice change.

Loving this book so much I did have to take off one star for a few other things too. One being Kezia’s reaction to her daughter. Above I mentioned why I liked her ex it’s because he didn’t do the following. Since her child is not immune to the necromancer curse, getting sick until death slowly takes them, she rightly so decided it was best her husband raise him. The child is five I think and not a single skype, zoom, facetime or anything has been had. She even cut off her ex who she is still stupid-mad in love with. This happens so much in romance novels where the only solution to a problem is to just run I’m numb to it to the point of annoyance. It’s usually irrationally cutting off the man or the man not calling back for something stupid. However, in this case, there is zero reason to not talk to her child or ex. Why is she not explaining to the girl who is old enough to understand now, how mommy is searching for a cure and the moment she finds one they’ll be together. Also since it requires extended exposure, who’s to say a visit four times a year or so, or even once a month may not be enough exposure to still survive. Especially when her ex is immune so she can see him safely multiple times so they can test this theory. This is probably the first time cutting ties was not some irrational drama point and but yet still wasn’t required. If she never finds a cure is Kezia also planing to miss college? Being a grandma if her grandchildren happen to be immune like her husband. This all or nothing choice makes zero sense especially on the emotional level of torture it provides Kezia when none of it is necessary.

That aside my other THIS IS PROBABLY A SPOILER issue was with the information Brandy withheld. She was pregnant. Two live’s where at stake, she also knew exactly what she meant when she said don’t pray in the temple and still willingly allowed Kezia and multiple others the chance to become a target by not shutting down the temple. The list is endless. I can honestly say had she not been pregnant I would’ve been on board for her rediculous fanaticism, but Kezia was willing to cut off both her husband and her child for her daughter to live even though all she had to do was not be in her presence. Yet all of Brandy’s actions would certainly lead to death for her and her unborn child. It’s hard to fathom this considering how she was swayed to the light. If she was more concerned about the Temple and its publicity than her baby nothing would’ve swayed her. They would’ve had to storm to her house and take the information by force from her husband. As it was she caved, so not really that convicted after all and basically just wasting time.

The book seemed a bit preachy or over explanatory at times too. Like the whole speel at the end about families holding secrets. The flashback which I already said could’ve been handled better. The drop of how she’s surprised Brandy knows her name and where it comes from. The Job bible reference and not letting the reader take ‘Dove’ for the endearing pet name it was without the explanation which honestly took away from it a bit for me. There were a lot more but in contrast, when she meets Andromeda she passes judgement and it could have got preachy but she handles it with class and casually falls into appreciating her talents without some overbearing lesson or info dump. This happened enough to counter out the few times it bugged me when it did not. I’m’ def still confused about why the Ex stormed off at the end and, to be honest, if she would’ve turned him down and he left amicably but still not convinced he couldn’t win her back that would’ve made me smile and piqued my interest for any new ways he might come up with to change her mind as the non-argumentive, albeit slow-burn tension they had was so much fun to read. This drama bit slid firmly into one of the reasons why I was afraid to read this story in the first place.

Also, ignoring the fact that the gift is called the Godsend, the whole Jin being jealous of God and humans being the best creation and so on and so forth was a small buzzkill. It’s been done and with the few, thankfully, other bible references it was frustrating to be trapped in this amazing world the author has created without it being able to stand on its own two feet. Like it had to be about God, in the Christian sense. My first thought was why can’t, seers, magicians, demons, jins necromancers and the like just coexist, peacefully or not, without it being dragged back to this point, or crutch I guess. The story was more than strong enough, with all the mythology out there, to just stand on its own without the Jin having to bring God into it in the end. I honestly was hoping for something bigger, different, newish because most things aren’t all new but they can be new enough. This took away from my experience.

Like I said this book was amazing. The preachy bits were short-lived, the thing with the daughter and ex didn’t weigh the book down much, the one bad Brandy move didn’t stop me from liking her and only made me slightly annoyed. The side characters enhanced the book rather than taking away from it and the ending, beyond my whole God connection annoyance, was brilliant. The way the team came together even though odds were stacked against them was good. The ex-husband made a cliche move I’m def mildly annoyed by but I can ignore that for now. Andromeda was my favourite character. I’m secretly hoping she comes back for the rest of the series which I will most definitely be reading, or at the very least gets a spinoff. She was just all sorts of fun.

And, I cant forget, the reason why necromancers exist is definitely a nice touch and a good stroke of artistry for an own voices tale. Loved it.

If the issues I had were in the volume they are in my not so good reviews this might have been a two-star, if they were a bit less this story is five stars, easy. As it is this is a brilliant fantasy that starts of simple and quickly grows into a very intense, and engaging murder mystery full of twists turns and secrets to keep any ready invested. Almost perfectly executed I actually read two hours past my adult bedtime to finish this book cause I’m getting old and need to set bedtime goals lol. But it was totally worth it and I can’t wait to read the next instalment.

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