by J. Abram Barneck
I recently met J. Abram Barneck at LTUE. He’s a genuinely nice guy who was down to earth and very easy to talk to. After discussing his work, I decided to read his first novel, Fire Light.
Druid Mormons, vampires, and a secret society operating underground in Salt Lake City? The premise alone was interesting enough to justify the $2.99 Kindle version.
The main character, seventeen-year-old Jacob Stevens has always felt a little strange, not just because his mother flinches every time she sees him (Jacob’s a product of rape). He heals to fast, only requires four hours of sleep and never gets sore. Strange dreams and an overwhelming urge to protect the innocent are a constant irritation. Jake just wants to be normal, but when he discovers his druid lineage, he realizes he will never be a regular teenager.
Fire Light is a New Adult, James Bond kind of fantasy mixed with magical elements. You have the love triangle between Jacob, the druid dhampir, Alexis, who is always scandalously clad in skin-tight leather, and sweet little girl-next-door, Kendra. Through the course of the plot, there was plenty of fighting, action, disappearing clothing, and even some real life issues plaguing some youth.
Please understand, I’m not a teenage boy, and it was a little disconcerting being placed into one’s thoughts so vividly. Since I’m raising a sixteen-year-old daughter, I’d rather not know how the opposite sex thinks at this age for fear of wanting to lock my little girl away until she turns thirty. Clearly, I was not the intended audience, so I’m not going to focus on the male hormones, and in fairness base my four-star rating off of the parts I liked.
Barneck did an amazing job of describing magic in tangible terms. I was able to experience the feel, understand the science behind the art of casting, and predict the consequences of the characters using spells. Living in Utah myself, I had fun to following the chases and fights through neighborhoods that I’m familiar with. I loved the Nightwalker scene on Bangeter highway. The tension and mood was set with supreme skill, and knowing the terrain made the experience much more vivid.