Published by Angry Robot on March 6, 2018
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Sexual Content: mentions of sex, kissing
Reviewed by: Rebecca
When dragons rise from the earth, firefighters are humanity's last line of defence, in this wild near-future fantasy.
Firefighter Cole Brannigan is on the verge of retirement after 30 years on the job, and a decade fighting dragons. But during his final fire call, he discovers he's immune to dragon smoke. It's such a rare power that he's immediately conscripted into the elite dragon-fighting force known as the Smoke Eaters. Retirement cancelled, Brannigan is re-assigned as a lowly rookie, chafing under his superiors. So when he discovers a plot to take over the city's government, he takes matters into his own hands. With hundreds of innocent civilians in the crosshairs, it's up to Brannigan and his fellow Smoke Eaters to repel the dragon menace.
SMOKE EATERS has dragons, wraiths, robots, government conspiracies, and possessed devices...and only some of those plot points work. Cole Brannigan is days away from retirement and wouldn’t you know it, he gets pulled right back into service. After a dragon attack, Cole discovers that he is able to breathe dragon smoke and withstand high heat temperatures. He’s persuaded to join the Smoke Eaters, a dragon fighting force where Cole is the oldest member and newest recruit.
SMOKE EATERS is at it’s best when Cole actually fights fires. It’s clear that the author is comfortable writing high-heat, highly dangerous passages. Every other time the book slows down. There are endless class sessions where Cole, and the reader, are lectured about dragons; unfortunately it’s never actually explained how to fight and kill them or why they woke up. Smoke Eaters look at training with a ‘sink or swim’ attitude. Either the recruit dies fighting dragons or they don’t. Which is a strange view when it seems that Smoke Eaters are the only people able to fight the dragons. Cole’s team members are entirely composed of one-liners. Cutting half the characters and just developing a core crew would have added so much more interest to the plot.
Had the book just been Cole fighting fires set by supernaturals, that would have been entertaining enough. The wraiths are a distraction that never really seemed to fit into the plot. The robots just made Cole look like a Boomer annoyed by new-fangled technology. While I personally loved that Canada become a dragon-worshipping society, the reasoning was never fully explained. I wish there had been something that connected this besides the stereotypical “Canadians are nice and don’t kill”.
SMOKE EATERS is an adventurous novel that stumbles with too many ideas. Reading about Cole fighting fires, dealing with being a veteran firefighter with a new crew that doesn’t respect him, and making his marriage work while being distracted by younger women might have made a really interesting supernatural story. Unfortunately the addition of robots, wraiths, and miracle dragon blood that makes you hotter, all detract from Cole’s story . If you love reading about older protagonists and don’t mind an overstuffed plot then SMOKE EATERS might hold more interest for you then it did for me.Series Titles:
For a more paranormal romance take on firefighters and dragons, check out Never Dare a Dragon (Boston Dragons #3) by Ashlyn Chase