Series Review

Series Review: Embers Duology by Victoria Larque (2021)

Heat Factor: Pretty low heat, considering this is a demon romance

Character Chemistry: Fane teasing Mihr is the highlight of this duology

Plot: A demon and an angel escape from Hell together and make a lot of people really angry in the process

Overall: Demon Rising is really fun, but Angel Falling kinda dragged

For some reason, I have this thing where I really like books that take place in Hell. I think because I am fascinated with what the authors do with the worldbuilding—if they’re coming from a Christian tradition, there are some basic commonalities (Lucifer, fallen angel, circles of hell, heat, etc), but there’s also a lot of scope for the imagination. And Larque pretty much nailed the demonic worldbuilding: it’s both familiar and interesting. It’s not as funny as some I’ve read (the one where the demon MC is constantly messing with Hell’s AC settings has yet to be beat), but it’s engaging. The system of portals that allow travel between the realms is a little vague on details, but I did like that she tied them to Namibia’s mysterious fairy circles. (Angel Falling takes place largely in Namibia.)

Namibian Fairy Circles

The worldbuilding of Hell is central to the story here (Heaven, too, but Heaven is less well-developed, and the characters spend very little time there). See, Mihr the angel was captured by some demons and brought to Hell to be tortured. Fane the demon is stuck in a bad contract (she’s basically an architecture slave) and is desperate to get out. The solution? Fane breaks Mihr out of his cell, and in exchange, Mihr blesses her so that she can leave Hell. Oh, and an adorable Hellkitten imprints on Mihr, so he has a demonic pet who is also along for the ride (she eventually grows to be the size of a stallion and has wings, and I cannot imagine anything more terrifying). Once they escape, Fane and Mihr end up sticking together because otherwise they are toast, even though they don’t trust one another, or even like each other all that much.

From a romance perspective, what’s interesting about this duology is that it’s structured as a double/inverse morality chain. Fane, through her love for Mihr, embraces occasionally acting on behalf of the greater good instead of only in her own self interest. Mihr, in contrast, has kind of a reverse morality chain, where through his love of Fane, he embraces acting selfishly in order to be with the woman he loves. In the process, Larque interrogates more broadly questions of good and evil, as Mihr especially learns that the universe isn’t so black and white as he always thought.

The shift from enemies to reluctant allies was really well done here. Larque nails the dynamic between hedonistic, selfish, irreverent Fane, who is constantly tweaking serious, selfless, boring Mihr. It’s fun, even if Fane has some manic pixie dream girl saving the boring corporate dude from himself vibes. It stayed fun as they shifted from reluctant allies to true friends, and even as they became lovers. However, once they were in love, their relationship was…kinda boring? In Angel Falling, Fane and Mihr have most of their personal stuff sorted out, and spend most of their time fighting one battle or another (the plot is very much: and then THIS happened! And then THIS happened!). While there’s still banter (and even a fight or two), the banter no longer moves the characters closer together or further develops their personality traits. It was like the love arc didn’t quite match the pacing of the “fighting for our lives” arc. Now, I get why Larque had Fane and Mihr bone at the end of Demon Rising—it was a nice payoff to cap their first adventure—but it did mean that there wasn’t much else for the two of them to go, romance-wise, in the second book. 

And finally, a note for the grammar nerds: there are some awkward and grammatically incorrect sentences here. Not enough that I didn’t ultimately enjoy the story, but enough to be distracting.

While I have nitpicked these books a little in this review, overall they were a pretty fun read.

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

Buy Now: Amazon

Looking for something similar?

Angels and Demons: Heroes | Heroines

Hell and other magical realms

Forbidden Love

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