“The Black Fire Concerto” by Mike Allen

“The Black Fire Concerto” by Mike AllenThe Black Fire Concerto by Mike Allen
Published: 2013 by Haunted Stars Publishing
Genres: Fantasy, Horror/Gothic
Pages: 185
Source: Borrowed
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After seeing glowing reviews at The Little Red Reviewer, Lynn’s Book Blog, and Just Book Reading, I knew I had to read The Black Fire Concerto.  I’m on a book-buying hiatus until the government shutdown ends and I have a regular paycheck again, but lucky for me, it is available through the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.  It’s the first time I’ve used that particular feature of Amazon Prime.  Mike Allen, you have taken my Kindle-book-borrowing virginity.  Yay!

Every evening, twelve-year-old Erzelle is called to play her harp aboard a riverboat named the Red Empress.  Like Scheherazade, this means that she can live another day.  You see, the boat is kept by the Family, who lure unsuspecting diners aboard their ship to feast on ghoul meat, which is said to grant extended life.  Once aboard, the poor unfortunates are bitten by ghouls, turned, and served up as dinner themselves.  When they decide that Erzelle isn’t worth her keep, then she too will become dinner.

That all changes when Olyssa, a kickass woman with a magic pipe, shows up one night for dinner.  She springs Erzelle from her predicament, and the two embark on a voyage to find Olyssa’s long-lost sister.  While doing so, Erzelle learns about the origins of the magical apocalypse that caused the Storms, the ghouls, and the end of normal life.

The magical apocalypse envisioned in The Black Fire Concerto is unlike anything I’ve ever read.  Magic is real, but humans only learned to tap the darkness a few decades ago.  The results were catastrophic, and led to the dystopian society that presently exists.

One of the things that impressed me the most was the way that the author was able to depict the way that magic affects its users.  This was especially evident as Erzelle learns how to use it and is gripped by the rage and the temptation to unleash too much power.  Heroes and villains alike are shaped by the magic that they use, and every action has a consequence, regardless of intention.

Mike Allen’s imagery is incredible.  He creates great machines fueled by rotting corpses, the friendly fox-like Vulpines, and villains that will give you nightmares and make you feel sympathetic at the same time.  A blend of fantasy and horror, The Black Fire Concerto will leave you begging for more.

Verdict:  Buy this.  Immediately.

Comments make me happy! Please feel free to leave a reply.

18 comments

    1. Unless you live in Roanoke, VA, my magical librarian powers tell me your library most likely does not have it. Hopefully more libraries get it soon! 🙂

            1. I really like your half-indie route. Conceptually, I love the idea of indie books, but I’ve been disappointed with a lot of them. The way you decided to go is the best of both worlds–good editing, cover design, etc., but freedom from the limitations a traditional publisher would have.

              If I were a public librarian instead of a science librarian, your book would be in my library. 🙂

    1. I talked to the author on Twitter and he says that he is planning a sequel! I feel like an obnoxious fangirl over this book. I need the next one noooooooooooooooooow…

      1. yeah, but it’s so much fun being a fangirl! and I think authors get a kick out of “when are you gonna write the next one?” . or at least, I hope they do!

        1. I hope so too. One of the great things about living in the digital age is being able to connect with the whole bookish community, and being able to interact with authors makes me happy. 🙂

    1. I loved the cover too. The book makes a great Halloween read, and I included it in the Readers Imbibing Peril challenge, which focuses on spooky/creepy/dark fall reads. 🙂

    1. Haha. I wish it were that easy and I could wave a magic wand and have books come out that I’m impatiently waiting for. This will be my superpower. 🙂

  1. Hey! Thank you for the great review! Just FYI, we’re going to be putting up an interview with the incredible cover artist, Lauren K. Cannon, on the Black Gate Magazine blog tomorrow, October 13th! In case you might be interested!

    – C.S.E. Cooney (Mike’s editor)