Series: Daniel Blackland #2
Published by Macmillan on January 27th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Sexual Content: N/A
Reviewed by: Megan
I’m Sam. I’m just this guy. Okay, yeah, I’m a golem created from the substance of his own magic by the late Hierarch of Southern California. With a lot of work, I might be able to wield magic myself. I kind of doubt it, though. Not like Daniel Blackland can. Daniel’s the reason the Hierarch’s gone and I’m still alive. He’s also the reason I’ve lived my entire life on the run. Ten years of never, ever going back to Los Angeles. Daniel’s determined to protect me. To teach me. But it gets old. I’ve got nobody but Daniel. I’ll never do anything normal. Like attend school. Or date a girl.Now it’s worse. Because things are happening back in LA. Very bad people are building a Pacific firedrake, a kind of ultimate weapon of mass magical destruction. Daniel seemed to think only he could stop them. Now Daniel’s been hurt. I managed to get us to the place run by the Emmas. (Many of them. All named Emma. It’s a long story.) They seem to be healing him, but he isn’t going anyplace soon.Do I even have a reason for existing, if it isn’t to prevent this firedrake from happening? I’m good at escaping from things. Now I’ve escaped from Daniel and the Emmas, and I’m on my way to LA. This may be the worst idea I ever had.
A very satisfying follow-up to Greg van Eekhout's CALIFORNIA BONES, PACIFIC FIRE picks up ten years later when a collective of loosely allied osteomancers finally decide to fill the power vacuum created by the death of the Los Angeles Hierarch. Unfortunately for Daniel Blackland, former thief-turned-fugitive, their plan for mass destruction requires the sacrifice of the boy Daniel has spent a decade trying to protect. PACIFIC FIRE opens van Eekhout's world of bone magic a little wider, and is still populated by the sorts of characters that made the first book so much fun to read. Once again, it's a slow build leading into a hurried ending, but it's a ride definitely worth taking.
I compared the first book in this series to Brandon Sanderson's MISTBORN, and PACIFIC FIRE seems to confirm my impression that van Eekhout is creating a contemporary take on the trilogy about magic via ingestion. Like MISTBORN's Vin, who is left without her mentor and teacher to find her way in the new world, protagonist Sam spends most of this novel separated from his father-figure, Daniel. Their relationship is one of my favorite things about this book; though they're not blood-related, they are related by magic that's bone-deep, pun intended. Daniel gave up everything in his life to keep Sam, a living embodiment of magic, safe, and though Sam is grateful, he's also a teenage boy, ready for his coming of age story. He starts to discover that his magic is stronger the longer he's away from Daniel, and begins to wonder if maybe Daniel wasn't holding him back.
Despite segments from Daniel and the ever-intriguing Gabriel Argent's PoVs this is very much Sam's story, but so much happens in the last fifty pages without the time to really savor it, that once again I'm left wanting more. That's not a terrible thing for an ongoing series - and the end of this book seems to promise another - but it can be frustrating when something so intriguing is dropped at the end and left unresolved. This mostly seems to be a trend with Daniel's part of the story - his history is scattered here and there in the beginning until some bombshell from his past almost overshadows the climax. Sam's arc, however, which is the main thrust of the plot this time, feels complete with a proper beginning, middle, and end, more 'spirit of adventure' than 'planning a crime.' I look forward to returning to this world again, hopefully adding another piece to the map.Series Titles:
- California Bones
- Pacific Fire