This book was a wild ride where the action never stops. Each chapter, or two, in “Of Flesh and Fire” read like an episode of a supernatural college sitcom. Which makes sense as, I believe, that was how this was originally written—as episodic serials to be consumed like crack riddled popcorn. Like, seriously the action never stops from pretty much the moment we meet Nym. The girl is literally on fire when we meet her, and things spiral out of control from that moment on. Honestly, if you like binge-worthy, fast (both in pacing and length), occasionally sweet, stories with magic and vampires, you’ll probably enjoy this book. There are some new elements that I enjoyed, as they aren’t present in most supernatural books when it covers this kind of subject material, but there are other tropes that felt a little too unnecessary for the story. Also, while the book is incredibly fast and easy to knock out during a lazy vacation, there are so many interesting and, frankly, big things going on that I felt like “Of Flesh and Fire” was about 5 books crammed into one very short one.
Firstly, I did enjoy this book. It was a crazy ride, but it was easy to get into and lose myself in. It’s a story line I’m familiar with, but with enough twists to keep me from boredom. I really enjoyed Rowan’s spunk and her interactions with Nym, and I think having a magical college is a great idea because Harry Potter only goes so far. There is something massive happening in every chapter, whether it’s Nym learning that there’s magic and vampires to begin with, to being hunted down by crazy ex’s (both hers and her new boyfriends), to almost being killed on multiple occasions by other magic types, to trying to figure out who to trust while also trying to get a handle on this whole prophecy she’s at the center of in order to keep even more bad things from happening… See what I mean about there being a lot going on? We are given these little yummy bits and then they get wrapped in a chapter or two and we are moving on to the next thing, which negated so much tension each time a new challenge was presented. I really wanted to slow down for a bit and get to know this new world Nym found herself in. Heck, most of those things I mentioned, when they appear in the book, could have very well been their own novel or novella! That’s how much potential there is in each of those segments that just never gets unpacked. The entire book takes place in less than a week’s time span. That’s a lot to throw at Nym, and the reader.
Did I have fun reading this book? Absolutely! I was always engaged for one reason or another, which is why I wanted more. I wanted to spend more time on certain things, which may have lessened some of the tropes that are in the book. Like the unknowing all powerful savior (Nym), the ancient vampire falling for the young adult (honestly, my least favorite trope, but I get the appeal), and mustache twirling villains. If more world and character building had been established, whether in this book or spread out over others, there wouldn't have been this disconnect for me where certain things felt overly obvious, and some characters felt thrown in last minute, or changed in order to make things move in the right direction. But—even in spite of some of the issues I had—I didn’t want to stop reading. I always wanted to know what was going to happen next, even if I already had a pretty good idea of where things were going and how it was all going to end. The author has a great grasp of keeping flow and writing chapter endings in a way that always leaves you saying “one more chapter!”
If you’re one of those readers that just wants all things supernatural with magic, vampires, werewolves, dragons, and—apparently—a mermaid or two, this book will not disappoint you. It checks off all those boxes rather nicely. And while I had a lot of fun reading Cross’ work, it was the length that kept me from absolutely adoring it. Cramming so many cataclysmic events into just a week for your characters felt like overkill and kept me from feeling like I got to know the characters, or made me believe Nym could actually handle all the stuff being thrown at her. That and, as a pure matter of taste, the sheer amount of internal conversations became overdone and I’d have preferred her to actually speak to the people around her, but that’s just me. But also partially why this book is a 3.25 stars for me. Given how this book ended, I’m not sure how Cross is going to top things, but I’m really interested to see where things go from here for Nym, Rowan, and Marcus! And thanks to the author for providing me a copy for review.
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