Cover Image: Chasing Embers

Chasing Embers

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Chasing Embers is a fun first installment in Bennett’s urban fantasy series starring Ben Garston, the last dragon awake in our modern world. There is something gritty and noir about the writing style itself, which I enjoyed. The use of metaphor is overdone, but in the same way that noir detective movies overdo it, which added to the hardboiled feel of the story. Ben Garston is basically a Heartstriker (definitely not Julian) with the personality of John Constantine, and the same inability to learn from his mistakes. The history was very interesting, and I could tell that a ton of research had gone into writing this story. I also really appreciated that this book didn’t go in the well-worn directions that so many urban fantasies follow, instead referencing different mythologies in refreshing ways. So why didn’t I love it? I definitely liked it, but couldn’t quite make that like solidify into love.

For some odd reason, this book was impossible for me to read while my intellect was engaged. I’m not saying that it’s drivel at all. It was far from it, well written and snappy and interestingly plotted. But every time I picked it up, my brain turned off and I just mindlessly read. I found this similar to watching a fun, action-packed movie on a lazy, rainy afternoon while also half dozing. Nothing felt quite real. The characters were just that: characters. I never connected with them on an emotional level, even when they were going through horrible things. And speaking of, this emotions in this book were so overblown they edged into soap opera on multiple occasions. The villains all felt too much like mustache-twirling baddies from silent movies to be believable. There was one exception, but that particular villain was also a bit of an anti-heroine, and she was insanely sexual. I also found myself zoning out while reading, and having to go back and reread what I missed.

That sounds like a lot of criticism, but I really did enjoy reading this. I might even continue the trilogy at a later date. If nothing else, Ben’s life reminded me during a difficult time that things could always be worse. I’ll take my problems over his any day.
Was this review helpful?
I was really excited to read this book. Thank you to NetGalley. Unfortunately it was a very slow and underwhelming read for me personally. I read a lot of books with dragons and fantasy so maybe judged this harder because of it. I would still recommend those interested in the description give it a try!
Was this review helpful?
Amazing story. Got me hooked quickly and kept me excited through the whole thing. Can't wait for book 3.
Was this review helpful?
A great storyline that is not overdone. Really well thought out characters And plot. It is very nice to see such detail that is more showing rather than telling and not boring in the slightest. I would definitely read the author again.
Was this review helpful?
Chasing Embers by James Bennett

Red Ben is a remnant of lost magic.   He finds his life threatened by the breaking of the Pact, an agreement to have magical creatures sleep until the Fae return with one member of each group staying awake.   When the Pact is broken, Ben finds his life and his love threatened. 

The author did a nice job depicting Ben’s frustration of a long life with a desire to love and be loved and being thwarted by his own longevity.  The characters were interesting and the plot was sufficiently complicated to keep your interest. 

You will find witches, grudge holding wild men, ancient Egyptians, dragons and other highly colorful characters. 

It seems to be the initial book of a series. 

I look forward to reading more.

Web: I could not find a web site for Bennett
Was this review helpful?
Chasing Embers is was pitched to me as a fantasy with dragons. And this is true and not. The book follows Ben who is indeed a dragon. He comes from the "days of old" when magic and humans lived together peacefully. Now in modern day New York he finds himself being hunted by new and old foes. Only to be surprised to find that one of the old sleeping remnants has been awakened. Sounds like a solid plot. But I struggled with this book. There was a lot of exposition and info dropping. Making the novel seems really wordy and less action-y. Which wasn't exactly true. But with so little dialogue in the beginning it was hard to stay attached to the story. At 25% of the way through Ben was just finally making his way to investigate the whole in the wall at the museum. I found this to be an issue with style rather than plot. Personally I would've enjoyed a different style, or pacing, or even just more dialogue. As for characters, I thought the characters were more pretty interesting and I was hungry to understand this world. I liked that there was more than one type of mythical creature. However I would have liked to have seen more dragons. More dragon fighting. More dragons doing kick ass dragon things. But despite all the info dropping I still didn't feel like I really knew how the world came together and the "legends and myths" we were working with. It was a very "just accept what you're reading and go with it" type of experience.
Was this review helpful?
The writing and descriptions were a bit over the top but this has dragons so that makes up for everything.
Was this review helpful?
Now that was a really fun book to read.  The magical elements were spot on, and the fact Bennet was able to bring in the Magna Carta as a secret was a added bonus. 
The romance wasn't over the top either. It just was a perfect balance, and I appreciated that a book that is targeted for adults to read, could still be read by a teenager or mature young adult and not worry about it being over the top. 
Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who reads fantasy, or just a fan of dragons.

I would like to thank James Bennet and Orbit Books for the opportunity to read and review this book.  I will be purchasing a copy for myself.
Was this review helpful?
Ridiculously fun. Definitely recommending Chasing Embers for adventure, modern-world fantasy, and dragon loving readers. Summer TBR.
Was this review helpful?
This book just did not flow for me. The story line was fine, but overall it just fell flat. The love story did not feel genuine and the main character did not have the weight of a thousand years about him. It was also too long. There were long passages of description that were not necessary and did nothing to further the plot. With that being said, there were some redeeming qualities. There was some Egyptian history that was interesting. The dragon queen was also pretty cool.

I'm going to go straight down the middle with 3 stars on this one.
Was this review helpful?
A different kind of dragon- I thoroughly enjoyed this grown-up amalgam of dragon tales and a modern character-driven novel. James Bennet has the start of something potentially epic. The depth of skill in blending different mythologies is interwoven with a patient character development that has me eagerly waiting on the next Ben Garston story.
Was this review helpful?
While the premise of the book intrigued me, I found the prose so overwrought as to verge into melodrama. Other readers might not react as strongly, but for me this book was an ongoing demonstration of why "purple prose" drains all the power out of a narrative. My advice to the author is to write simply, delete those adjectives, and let the story speak for itself instead of resorting to language that bashes the reader over the head.
Was this review helpful?
The cover artwork is what caught my eye on this book. I'm really happy it did! A really entertaining book to pass the time. We'll written characters that drew me into the story.
Was this review helpful?
The last of the dragons hidden within society, passing as human and trying to live out his life until he becomes embroiled in a mystery? Count me in. Plotwise, this book should have been right up my alley, but unfortunately, it just didn't work for me. If I were forced into conciseness, I think I'd describe Chasing Embers as a take on Neil Gaiman's American Gods written in the style of Wilkie Collins. While it may be sacrilege and I may end up tarred and feathered for it, I must admit that I'm not a fan of American Gods. I do generally enjoy Wilkie Collins, but while the Victorian era does much to excuse his fraught verbosity, the careless sexism, and the thoughtless xenophobic exoticism of foreign cultures, it's rather less understandable in a modern novel. As with all my negative reviews, I'm going to lay out my problems with the book because the things that drove me nuts may be unimportant or even positives to other readers.

The most notable feature of the book is probably the overblown style. A few examples that might demonstrate why I initially thought it intended to be some sort of spoof:

"Flames sputtered. Steer horns flew. Smoke fouled the air. A girder screamed, busted outward. The city peered in through the breach, her distant lights jealous of the fireworks. A hush washed over the bridge, a murmuring tide carrying prayers."

[About a ten-year-old] "Her sore feet tingled on stone and she moved forwards as if through water, a subtle magnetism drawing her on, the sense of little teeth nipping at her budding breasts. Ants swarming in her guts."

"Blood streaked the horizon, congealing into an ugly purple, the dam of day broken by the encroaching penumbra, the night flooding in. In minutes, the moon had swallowed half of the sun. It was a black eye bordered by gold, scouring the sands with ominous portent. A minute more and it had obscured the sun completely, the sight a blazing ring in the sky, a flaring golden corona."

"Uncurling from his foetus of grief, Ben raised himself on his one good arm."

The book also demonstrates a cheerful Victorianesque disregard for the proper use of punctuation and cheerfully substitutes em-dashes and semicolons for commas, colons for semicolons. Yeah, not my cup of tea.

Continuing the Wilkie Collins motif, we have a credulous starving native, exotic African magics, and quite imprecise Egyptian history--e.g. ushaptiu described as "bricks"-- as well as a rather Victorian attitude towards women. Women are repeatedly described as animalistic and controlled only by their passions. Those who aren't "all heart, fury bred from spurned love, vengeance from the pain of treachery" want to live out the nineteenth century feminine ideal: "She told him, through pretty tears, that she only wanted a normal life. Marriage. Kids. A future." In no particular order and with possible overlaps between roles to avoid spoilers, this book contains: a damsel in distress, a powerful and magnetic seductress who is the pawn of the man manipulating her, a woman who becomes utterly consumed by revenge against the man who done her wrong, a bunch of evil witches who use sexuality as a weapon, and, to top it all off, a refrigeratored female. The most over-the-top offensive parts? When one woman is considered valuable, or "invested with power," as the book put it, solely because she is a receptacle for a man's sperm. Literal or metaphorical, a lot of the women end "opened up like a door", to be raped and used as emotional pawns. I had to push myself to keep reading, and I'm glad I did, because there is a certain amount of saving grace at the end.

I also really didn't buy the basis of the worldbuilding. The basic scenario: King John got all the magical Remnants to make a pact that would leave exactly one of each of their kind in the world and push all the rest into endless sleep. Now, who on earth would agree to that, and in particular, who on earth would elect some leader as the only one to remain alive?
Leaving aside the fact that King "Lackland" John was a pathetic whinging scheming excuse of a king who managed to infuriate the Church, antagonize his populace to the point of war, and lose massive chunks of territory to the French, how on earth would a peace brokered with a weakling king of one measly little island become some sort of universal law to be obeyed by every mortal and immortal being all over the world? At that point, believe me, the sun definitely set on the British empire--on winter days, after less than ten hours. It's that sort of thoughtless exceptionalism that really gets on my nerves.

As as surely become clear by now, this book was not for me. I really wish it had been--it sounded so perfect. However, it was not meant to be. If you are more tolerant than me, or if a cross between Wilkie Collins and Neil Gaiman sounds fun to you, dear reader, then Chasing Embers may be worth a look.
Was this review helpful?
An urban fantasy that relies REALLY heavily on blowsy, overblown prose - I mean, DAMN.  Anyway, a recommend if you like dragons, and there are some interesting twists and turns here, but it ultimately wasn't  a read for me.
Was this review helpful?
Disclaimer: I received a eBook from in exchange for a honest review.

The cover drew me to Chasing Embers. A red dragon tail, floating above a city. I love dragons and dragon mythologies. James Bennett has done a brilliant job of finding space for dragons in the urban fantasy genre. In this first book, we meet Ben Garston, a dragon living under the guise of a human. He's part of the old myths, critters (fae, gods, etc.) that existed long ago and have faded to myth. While Ben lives by the the Pact, Lore and rules designed to protect both humans and Reminants alike, he suddenly finds himself thrown into a intriguing series of events that threatens the very existence of all he knows.

Bennett's writing is a strange mix of poetry and prose. It reads like a mix of faerie tales and urban fantasy. The characters are well rounded with merits and flaws. The world we're thrust into is also well rounded. There are many groups whose interests border on saving or harming the world they live in. Alliances are made and strategy formed.

In the end, this is a fun read and I'm quite curious to see where Bennett takes Red Ben in the future.
Was this review helpful?
I really wanted to like this book. And I don't actually think the story is bad in any way. However, the writing style really put me off. It was far too descriptive and I just couldn't focus on what was actually happening. The other reason I didn't like this book is because I didn't really care about any of the characters. I wasn't able to form a bond with any of them enough to want to read more about them. Like I mentioned before, this story isn't a bad one at all. It's got plenty of action and a fast-moving pace. However, it just didn't cut it for me, and so I'm going to have to add this to my DNF list. I hope that others who are interested in urban fantasy will still give this novel a shot because there is definitely potential in the overall story!
Was this review helpful?
I don't feel it's fair to post reviews of books I don't finish.
Was this review helpful?
This book sounded like a dream come true but when it came down to it, I ended up marking the book as unfinished at 76%. The writing is good but the book fell into the realm of epic fantasies, highly wordy and descriptive, slowing the plot down. I also didn't feel a connection to the characters enough to invest more time into reading this book.
Was this review helpful?
In the universe of the contemporary fairy tales this one gives a great adventure, universal questions about humanity and love...Good read!
Was this review helpful?