Review: Immortal Fire by Annette Marie

Reviewed by Ronelle

Once upon a time, Emi’s world was simple. Gods were righteous and wise, yokai were bloodthirsty and evil, and her duty as the kamigakari was straightforward. But when one of the kami sets out to destroy the mortal world as it’s known and the yokai are the only ones standing in her way, she’s faced with a far more terrifying reality.

Looming threat or no, Emi can’t escape her greatest distraction: Shiro, the fox yokai who has so deftly claimed her heart for his own. She’s promised to break the curse that binds his magic and memories, and once his true self awakens, she’s afraid she’ll lose him forever. But his power and knowledge are needed for the impending war, and so they’ll gamble everything to turn the tide against their immortal, all-powerful foes.

Together, they will find a way to save her world—but can they save each other?

***

Talk about a story that rips your heart out, stomps all over it, then kisses it better before putting it back. Seriously, I’m pretty certain I cried like a baby through at least three-quarters of this book, but the ending was so worth all the emotional torment we suffered to get there. I’ve genuinely grown to love Emi, Shiro, and Yumei, and I’m going to miss them. (Psst, Ms. Marie; if you could find it in your heart to give us a Yumei spin-off, I’d be eternally grateful. He needs some lovin, too!)

As I mentioned in a previous review, the Red Winter Trilogy isn’t a straight-up romance—there’s way, way more going on—however, the theme has grown much more prevalent. By the time we get to Immortal Fire, things between Emi and Shiro are on fire in the best possible way. Despite the looming threat of Izanami ending the world and Amaterasu descending, a pleasant amount of page space is devoted to Emi and Shiro figuring their relationship-shit out. I almost couldn’t stand the wait to see what happened, but at the same time, I was afraid to know. Emi was, after all, facing a unique fate. What kept me going was the simple fact that I’m a sucker for a beautiful love story, and theirs was fierce and passionate while still being something that’s pure and so touching it’s almost painful. Knowing that their time together was limited totally broke my heart and…and…ok, I can’t say more without giving too much away, and I won’t spoil it for you.

And it wasn’t just Emi and Shiro that grew closer; her friendship with Yumei blossomed and matured, too, and there were some hilarious moments between them (Yumei not understanding how hugs work was the best). Seeing the aloof, inhuman, and so-powerful-it’s-terrifying Tengu interact with all the messiness of Emi’s humanity was pretty damn cute and it helped to lighten the mood. They had their serious moments, but he turned out to be incredibly faithful to her.

Ms. Marie’s writing style continued to shine, and she wove an even more nuanced, complex story than in the previous books of this series. Struggle, conflict, and moral decision-making in a gray area were central to the plot and the action just wouldn’t quit. The world and magic are rich and detailed and it was so easy to get swept away. This is very much a traditional Hero’s Journey and the final showdown had me holding my breath (I may or may not have any fingernails left). If ever a series should bear the label of “epic”, it’s this one. Watching Emi grow from the meek, obedient, unquestioning miko we first met in Red Winter into a strong, fierce, courageous player in her own right was riveting. It’s not often I stumble across characters that are this well developed and complex or who show such appreciable, admirable growth. She is strong, and didn’t need a man to make her that way—though love was the catalyst for her.

Bottom line: *happy sigh* Immortal Fire was the perfect wrap-up to the Red Winter trilogy and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. For those who love urban fantasy with an oriental touch, beautiful love stories, and for those who can handle some pain in the journey, I can’t recommend this series highly enough. Have a box of tissues ready to go, though, because you will definitely need them!

Rating: A+

Click to purchase: Amazon

Immortal Fire
by Annette Marie
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Dark Owl Fantasy

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