Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hell Fire (Corine Solomon, Bk 2) by Ann Aguirre

Posted by Simcha 6:37 PM, under | 3 comments

The conclusion of Blue Diablo saw Chance’s mother alive and safe, thanks to Corine’s assistance, which means that it’s now time for Chance to fulfill his side of the bargain by helping Corine track down her mother’s killers. And that means returning to the scene of the crime.

It’s been nine years since Corine last set foot in Kilmer, Georgia and if not for the mystery of her mother’s death, she would have been happy to have stayed away permanently. The town’s menacing atmosphere has only intensified over time, a constant reminder of the tragedy that had befallen Corine here. The woods that had once sheltered Corine, while she had watched her house burn to the ground, now pulse with a dark presence that seems to watch Corine and Chance as they drive into town.

As Corine begins questioning the townspeople, it soon becomes clear that her mother’s death is not the only dark secret in Kilmer. Over the past few years both people and pets have begun mysteriously disappearing, and strangely enough, no investigation is ever launched to find the missing individuals. As Corine and Chance begin unraveling the mystery, they discover that someone is strongly opposed to their presence in town and this person is willing to kill in order to keep their secrets buried.

Blue Diablo had really impressed me with its creative magical elements integrated into a real-world setting that also provided readers with a taste of Mexican culture. I was also quickly charmed by the down-to-earth protagonist and her tough but vulnerable ex-boyfriend, and I enjoyed the romantic vibe between them. Unfortunately, most of these components that made Blue Diablo such an enjoyable urban fantasy were missing in Hell Fire, leaving me less then impressed with this sequel.

I’m not a fan of spooky stories involving ghosts, haunted houses and blood dripping from walls, but that is exactly the kind of tale that Hell Fire provides. The whole story takes place in a small Southern town of creepy townspeople, surrounded by an eerie forest and rife with supernatural activity. This book was more like an episode of The Twilight Zone than than the fun urban fantasy I had expected, and astonishingly different from its predecessor, which I had so much enjoyed. Hell Fire also jumps into this grim atmosphere from the very beginning, without first giving readers any light scenes or glimpse of the outside world, which I thought added to the heavy atmosphere and unearthly feel of the book.

In addition to the book’s main storyline, there is also Corine’s own relationship issues, which offer the only real relief from the dark mood of the narration. At the very start, Corine clarifies that her relationship with Chance is uncertain because of his personal issues, particularly his difficulty in sharing himself with others.
And then this same point is repeated over, and over again throughout the story, because apparently Aguirre was afraid readers would forget if she didn’t keep reminding us. We are also repeatedly told about
Chance’s new found vulnerability, due to being abandoned by Corine, and I felt like I spent the whole book being hit over the head by these two bits of information until I wanted to throw the book across the room and yell at it ‘Enough already, I get it!’

Just a few examples:

On page 12…
The man made a game out of leaving different names anywhere we stayed. People who knew him understood they’d never get more out of him regarding his true name than “Chance.” I never had either. I didn’t want to mind, but deep down I did. It had taken me this long for me to admit it, but I’d had enough of Chance’s secrets
On page 30…
Chance was like an iceberg, only it’s tip showing above the water; sure it was beautiful and bright but you never knew what lurked beneath the surface. He’d never made any attempt to share with me, even though he wanted me laid open for him like a watermelon at a Fourth of July picnic.
And again on page 142..
…It was more perceptive then I’d come to expect from Chance. He didn’t used to deal well in emotional coin; he preferred to show his feelings in material things…At first, I found that charming, but eventually I started wanting him to apologize and tell me how he felt…And he didn’t want to tell me anything at all.
I definitely think that this story could have used more showing and less telling.

The introduction of a love triangle to the story complicated Corine and Chance’s relationship even further, as a love interest of Corine’s, from the past, makes an appearance. At this point I got really fed up with Corine and her constant dithering about who she should be with, and her tendency to make out with whichever guy happens to be with her at the time. Just because she is standing next to an attractive man does not mean she needs to get physical with him, particularly when the second guy is right in the other room. Making out with the second guy in the next scene does not make up for it either. I lost a lot of respect for Corine’s character because of this behavior and I soon became disinterested in the romantic storyline in general.

Hell Fire
did not turn out to be the kind of book I had been expecting and I didn’t
enjoy it half as much as I did Blue Diablo. By the end of the book I had grown irritated with most of the characters and I didn’t really care who Corine ended up choosing. The story felt stale and unoriginal, and the resolution was not much of a surprise. For those who do enjoy such stories, of ghosts and creepy small towns, perhaps you would like this book more that I, but at least be aware of what you are getting into.


Agggghh, *Covering ears* no, no *covering eyes* :) I have not read the first book yet. I read the first line and got worried, so I hate to admit... I didn't read the review. Sorry, I need to get to this book and I am hoping to get there next. Granted I can get through my current read this weekend, which is 200 and some pages left. Thanks!

Oops, sorry Melissa. I guess I should have included a warning. Though I don't think I gave away anything else from the first book, other than that there is a happy ending. You can come back after you read Blue Diablo and see what I have to say :)

*smiling* Not a worry. It wasn't that you gave anything away at all. :) I am looking forward to the read though. Thank you!

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