Book Review: Chasing Embers by James Bennett

chasing embers james bennett.jpg

Chasing Embers by James Bennett


The world we see and know is not reality in its entirety. There is another world, one that existed before ours, that spun alongside us, and one–having been relegated to hide in the shadows at the edges of our reality for the past 800 years–just itching to let loose and stretch its claws.

Meet Ben Garston. a nice, woe-begotten guy who is anything but ordinary. Ben, formerly Red Ben, has straddled the world we know and the hidden world for centuries. He is bound by the Pact, the inescapable Lore, the final solution to keep the monsters at bay, bound to remain alone and unchanging as the ages move by. Ben might look human, but he is anything but.

But there have always been those ill contented to abide by the rule of the Pact. One night, the walls of a museum hosting a display of ancient Egyptian artifacts are violently breeched. Chaos and magic run through the streets of New York, and the Pact has been shattered. Ben must find out why the Lore has been broken, and why those responsible seem to be targeting him. Time is of the essence, because in three days the chaos will swallow the world.

Chasing Embers is one of those books that’s hard to pin down. It is a fairy tale, a fantasy novel; after all, there’s dragons and knights and fairies and witches. Yet the setting, for all the magical accouterments, is solidly couched in the modern world: planes, trains, and automobiles. I would compare it to the Anita Blake or Merry Gentry series by Laurell K. Hamilton (though less raunchy). Or even The Hollows by Kim Harrison. Bennett does a good job of incorporating ancient legends and myths, along with magic, into a believable real world.

The main flaw with this book is that it is the first in the series. Bennett has built a complex world, and large parts of the book are given over to providing the reader with relevant backstory and rules of engagement. While certainly not a bad thing in itself, the story can drag on a bit as we enter into exposition mode. In all though, this is an interesting and unique story, and I look forward to seeing how it will carry forward in future books.

An advance ebook was provided by the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. Chasing Embers will be available on September 6th, 2016.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Chasing Embers by James Bennett

  1. That sounds good though! I like the idea of tying fantastical elements into the real world. I recently read a novel that classifies as a magical realism thing, but I was actually really disappointed (Winter’s Tale). One of the reasons was that lots of things went unexplained, when it was necessary to explain them or to provide some kind of backstory. So I get that that might make the plot drag a bit, but it’s also crucial to making the fictional world believable and engaging.


    1. I totally agree that you have to take the time with world building, or your story will make no sense. I think this has to be a very hard line for authors to walk: how to get your readers on the same page without sacrificing your pacing. I think the next book in this series (Chasing Embers is listed as Ben Gaston #1) will be a lot smoother, now that most of the back story has been filled in.


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