'Sons of Fire' by Tracy Auerbach
I've been duped. Or rather, I've allowed myself to be duped. And if you know me, you understand this is almost an unheard of occurrence.. but let me explain, while I try not to spoiler anything for you either.
I'll tell you up front that I really enjoyed this book. Not because it's a spectacular display of writing ability, in fact.. at the start, the writing appears weak.. not unlike one of these lovely twins. It's never poor, mind you. It's simply.. imbalanced. There's a wealth of character depth which is slow to reveal itself, a fascinating underworld, and yet.. initially the writing feels.. unformed. Both language and dialogue seem stinted, names seem unimaginative and actually too human for a pair of demons, and interactions come across as cliché.. as the story opens.
After reading further, I could only assume that this was done with some intent. The story, like the brothers' relationship, is just toddling. There's an awkwardness to it that could be the result of Auerbach trying to separate that world from ours in the most basic way, but I prefer to think it's more reflective of the characters at that point. They have limited understanding, they have history that neither of them fully grasps, and that awkwardness stems from everything standing between them.
At the start of my journey with the Sons of Fire, Keegan and Aidan, I was conflicted about choosing this read. I'm always intrigued by the use of theological entities in modern urban stories. The author displayed a penchant for making interesting choices as to which entities to employ, from the ancient Semitic god known here as Adramelech to the loyal King of Hell, Paimon.. the mighty Lucifer and a host of other various named demons. Each of which play an important role in the ultimate outcome of the story.
I'll admit, I'm always a sucker for a couple of things.. creatures that we as a society believe are evil exhibiting absolutely opposite behaviors and individuals that might be entirely different if they were pitted against each other by some outside force. This story has both.
Created by Adramelech as an heir, Aidan is a dark, powerful force, while Keegan is an unfortunate side-effect of an outside interruption. Cast to Earth in unfamiliar bodies with needs neither of them is accustomed to, they're sent to complete a task as a trial. Bound together by necessity, failing is not an option, but working together is an entirely new concept.
To explain my earlier statement about Auerbach's well-crafted deception, I was probably 70% through the story before realizing I'd allowed myself to be mislead by appearances. Perceived weaknesses and strengths in the story, mirroring those in the characters, had set me on a path not to take this author or this novel very seriously. I was invested, yes. I instantly loved the brothers. But I didn't realize the strength they or the author actually wielded.
I suddenly found myself looking around with a horrible sense of foreboding, not that someone had managed to fool me-- I love it when that actually happens. But at the dreaded suspicion that was developing in my mind. I had allowed myself to read with complacency and unexpectedly intuited that I had followed Auerbach's misdirection, looking at all the wrong things, which meant I was also on the precipice of understanding what the right things were.. and they were beautifully horrible.
Read this title. Ignore the poor looking cover art, it doesn't do the title justice. Or maybe it does.. it plays right along with that sleight of hand. But bring a box of tissues because if you're like me, you'll be struggling to see the last pages. This story is exquisitely painful and I'm so glad I read it. You will be too.
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