The first half of Chasing Embers is one of the better books we’ve read all year. Taking place on a modern-day Earth in which the legends are true, and their remnants live in the background of civilisation, it concerns Ben Garston, a down-on-his-luck immortal who gets drawn back into a world he’d rather be apart from.
As we mentioned, it’s absolutely thrilling to begin with. Kicking off with a supernatural bar-room brawl before following Ben as he attempts to stave off the threat that he knows is impending, initially it’s comfortably up there with all the best of modern-day fantasy.
Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher are both cited as touchstones, and they’re fair comparisons to Bennett’s attempts to fuse fantasy with a modern-day setting.
Unfortunately, it can’t quite seem to last the pace. This isn’t helped by a series of narrative interludes that have more of a jarring effect than anything else, removing you as they do from a situation you have become engrossed in. At times you’ll find yourself flicking pages back and forth in an attempt to remember if you’ve met certain characters before, which isn’t always a fun situation to be in.
As it progresses, things only get even more complex, and by the end the action sequences devolve into near-incomprehensibility. Ironically for a book that draws heavily on mythology, these are usually the least interesting parts, and there’s not always enough of a human story to anchor them in something relatable.
As per norm now, this appears geared towards kicking off a series. There’s enough to Ben Garston’s personality to suggest that he could front one, but whether there’s an intriguing enough story to sustain it all is another matter.