by Kristen Callihan
Darkest London #0.5 (novella)
After a fire consumes the Ellis family fortune, the beautiful and resourceful Miranda finds herself faced with an impossible dilemma: enter a life of petty crime or watch her family succumb to poverty. But once her fiancé learns of her descent into danger—and of the strange, new powers she's discovered—saving her family may come at the high price of her heart.
When Lord Benjamin Archer's one chance for redemption is destroyed by corrupt London antiquarian Hector Ellis, he vows to take what Ellis values most—his daughter Miranda. Forced to hide his face behind masks, Archer travels the world hoping to escape the curse that plagues him so that he can finally claim his prize.
But once Archer returns home to London, will it be revenge he seeks? Or will the flame-haired beauty ignite new, undeniable desires?
In preparation for Halloween Bingo 2019, I'm reading a few books and novellas that are either the first book or, in this case, a prequel to a book I want to read for the game. I figured, what better book to read for the Darkest London square than a book from a series titled Darkest London, which follows a girl with a supernatural gift for creating fire? Apparently, there's also a mystery involved in said book so I'm super excited to read it.
And so, I decided to go ahead and read Ember, which is the prequel novella to Firelight (the first book in the series), and found it intriguing enough to keep me hooked, even if the outline of the novella itself was a bit chaotic. I'm also not sure that the novella did much for me as a story if it weren't attached to a book I'm interested in reading, and which has gotten enough positive critique for me to want to keep moving forward.
For a little while, I was having trouble following the novella's story's events, especially with the hopping timelines that didn't seem to have any reasoning behind them. The brief tangents following Archer were pretty confusing, and didn't feel like they contributed much to the story. I DID find that I liked Miranda, but that was the extent of how I felt about all the characters. I didn't much care for Miranda's at-present lover nor her father. And I'm not certain I saw how Miranda's and Archer's tangents fit together.
Maybe it'll all make sense in Firelight, since the novella is supposed to give more of an insight into the first book of the series, according to a lot of reviews I'd skimmed out of curiosity. So I decided to get it read. So rather than being a historical romance with a paranormal twist, the conclusion of Ember was rather open-ended and bittersweet. There's so much unresolved conflict going on in Miranda's life that I'm tempted to just hop right into the book to get at a possible Happily Ever After... or at least a more satisfying resolution for her.
After all, there are still more books in this series I can read for the Darkest London square, right? The series is seven books long, and any of them would fit the square... and then some!