Book Review: Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble
*I read this book on my Amazon Kindle app after seeing that it was a free download.
Life isn’t bad for psychic Jolie Wilkins. True, she doesn’t have a love life to speak of, but she has a cute house in the suburbs of Los Angeles, a cat and a quirky best friend.
Enter Rand Balfour, a sinfully attractive warlock who insists she’s a witch and who just might turn her life upside down. Rand hires her to help him solve a mystery regarding the death of his client who also happens to be a ghost. Jolie not only uncovers the cause of the ghost’s demise but, in the process, she brings him back to life!
I’m picky about what I download and spend my time reading, even if it is free. I was hoping Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble by H.P. Mallory would be a fun quick read with a light romance and some interesting supernatural elements, and I was not disappointed. I enjoy reading about psychics because I find them fascinating. Typical of a first book in this type of series, Jolie does not know how powerful of a psychic she is and must discover how to believe in herself. While I was expecting this behavior, I prefer when female characters know who they are a little more than Jolie does. But as the book progresses she quickly adapts to the situation, something atypical of this type of series, so I applaud her resolve and reactions to the crazy that starts happening. The quirky best friend is a typical Judy Greer role (in my head she’s Judy Greer not Christa, so I will be calling her Judy). Judy is sexually liberated, unlike Jolie, but she’s also a ditz and she kind of takes advantage of Jolie and the situation. She has some endearing qualities and I understand why the author keeps her around, but at times I wondered why Jolie kept her around.
Rand is the typical male lead with lots of repressed heat and mystery. I know I keep saying typical, but it was pretty much what I expected, so I wasn’t disappointed by it. I was a little disappointed at Rand’s lack of character growth or development in the story, there isn’t even much in the way of background as to why he is the way he is. I think even a little of this and the story would have been just that much better. The way the character develops also made me re-realize that this is the first in a series. While I appreciate that authors know they have a span they can spin their story along, his character felt slightly underdeveloped and because of this the ending was rather abrupt. However, the magic he was able to do was very cool and Mallory has a universe with set rules that she adheres to and makes her tension revolve around. I enjoyed that a lot. I also like her writing, it was easy and fun without being pandering or poor writing. Sometimes these light urban fantasy novels aren’t the best written and I wonder if most ebooks ever even get an editor, but not with Mallory’s writing. I was engrossed in the magic and ghosts and vampires, oh my!, the entire time.
I also enjoyed the different settings the characters explore from Los Angeles to Chicago to England, this story spans time and space and I thought that was great. Jolie is a fun character who learns to stand up for herself and I always give that a thumb up! I wish the main characters of series like this would be as sexually liberated as their Judy Greer sidekicks, but if wishes were horses we’d all eat steak (that’s a Firefly reference, I’ve never eaten horse). Rand’s mystery was frustrating at times, but also exciting and sexy. A fun read involving vampires, warlocks, and psychics, Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble has cool characters, fun locale, and an interesting world to explore.