Blow Me Down

A Girl's Guide to Vampires

Improper English

Noble Intentions

 
Light My Fire
by Katie MacAlister
(Signet Eclipse, $6.99, R) ISBN 0-451-21982-1
****
Light My Fire is the third Aisling Grey novel, and it has an awful lot going on and an awful lot going for it. Being the third in a series, this is obviously not a “romance” in the technical sense, but has enough familiar elements to be comfortable, with one strong exception: watch out for the missing HEA ending.

Aisling Grey is a Guardian of the gates of hell, a demon lord (complete with her own personal demon, Jim, who appears in the form of a talking Newfoundland) and mate to the wyvern of the Green Dragon sept, Drake. Got that? Good. All this went down in the first two books, where Aisling stumbled unknowing into the Otherworld, where Guardians, imps, sprites, dragons, etc. abound. She’s managed to capture these three important jobs, and has yet to learn how to do any of them properly. She’s just set to begin her Guardian training in London when all hell – or Abaddon, as it is called on the Otherworld side – breaks loose. Aisling has broken up with wyvern Drake, who is much too controlling for her taste, although she understands that she will have to remain his mate. She isn’t London for even a day before he shows up to stoke her fires (literally, flames break out when they make out) and order her attendance at a major dragon ‘do.

This background alone has enough information for anyone to absorb, but there’s also a plot or two going on involving big trouble between the various dragon septs, a challenge to Drake’s leadership, and a race for the vacant position of Venediger in the Otherworld, a position for which many think Aisling is well suited (like she needs another job that she doesn’t understand and cannot do). Oh, and someone or something is trying to kill her – which will prove difficult, as at least one of her many jobs conveys immortality. This may seem like waaaay too much information, but the author has a deft touch with filling in the back-story and the necessary details to bring sense to all of it. So while it would have been interesting to read the first two books, it is certainly not necessary to the understanding or enjoyment of this one.

And there is lots of enjoyment to be had. The plot is complex beyond belief, but the pacing is excellent and there are no evident holes in it. This is a staying up late to see what happens next story.

Fine as the plot is, though, it is the characters that make this book. They are fabulously drawn – vivid, detailed, nuanced – and either hugely likeable or hugely unlikeable (or one posing as the other). Aisling is the heart of this first-person perspective, and she is simply doing the best that she can. She’s dedicated to her jobs, or at least to finding out what they are all about, and views herself as a professional-in-training. She is spunky (but in a good way!), and has a somewhat philosophical view that serves her well. She takes a licking and keeps on ticking. She also sticks to her guns, particularly in regards to Drake. She has a list of requirements that she needs him to meet before she will get back into a relationship with him, and she’s not budging, even on the one that requires that he share his thoughts and, heaven help us, his feelings. Dragons are not known for their ability to “share.” Drake is as one would expect a dragon – and not just any dragon, but a dragon’s dragon – to be. He is autocratic, commanding, inflexible and fierce. This sounds oppressive but, honestly, it’s kinda cute. These behaviors – highly annoying, if not intolerable, in a human male – are perfect in the dragon realm.

But the best character, by far, is the demon-as-Newfie, Jim. Its (not his – it’s a demon thing) dialogue is an unmitigated sassy, snarky, running commentary on Aisling and her misadventures; it is just what you’d like to be able to do with your own co-workers or family and friends. Its view of life with Aisling? “She’s better than reality TV, Internet porn sites, and the trashloids all put together.” It is completely self-centered; it is truly always all about it and its needs. Again, impossible behavior in a human, charming in a level six (truly substandard) demon.

If you jump into this series, be prepared to commit to future installments. These are charming people – well, not people, exactly, but characters – and they are worthy of long-term commitment. I’m also going backwards, looking for volumes one and two: Aisling and Drake, the early years.

--Laura Scott


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