I’ve become an E. A. Copen Fan. If she writes it, I’m reading it! You may have caught my first review of her first book, Guilty By Association. If you haven’t, I provided a convenient link for you to check it out. Guilty By Association is the first Judah Black book. Book number four, Playing With Fire, has just gone live, so I’m now allowed to release my review of this book. The title of this post should make it clear that I love this book! This review has minor spoilers, but you still have to read it for the important part of the story!
Judah Black is back and you’ll want to get it soon! In the 4th installment of the Judah Black series, Playing with Fire, Judah’s called to the scene of a fire, and runs into a startling situation as she sees two friends, Gideon Reed and Ed, fighting to the death. When she arrives, one of the friends turns on her and the fun begins. As the fight continues, Sal, Judah’s werewolf boyfriend and mentor to her werewolf son, jumps into the fray and is severely injured by the blade swung by Reed. Ed was singed by the fire thrown by Reed. In the confusion after Sal’s injury, the sword slinger and fire flinger escapes.
As the investigation begins, Judah is pitted against a group called the “Tribulation Adventists” – a so-called Christian fundamentalist organization and Reed is in cahoots with them. The problem this group poses becomes personal for Ed as he reveals that Mara has come under the sway of this group which ostensibly seeks to include supernaturals in the ranks of Christianity. We meet Espinoza who is part of the Concho County task force for Supernaturals, a group created by the sheriff to help Judah. As the investigation continues, Judah discovers treachery at high levels of government and, in the process, we learn a bit about how she got transferred to Paint Rock, Texas.
While Sal lies wounded in the hospital, we realize that the sword that Reed struck him with is enchanted, and becomes a part of the struggle for power between Judah and another old nemesis. She learns a startling secret about this sword and why it’s become the centerpiece of this battle. Meanwhile, because Sal is dealing with his enchanted wounds, we see Ed transforming into a major player who’s beginning to come of age in this story. I really enjoyed the development of his character in this book.
This is the most intense Judah Black story so far, and you won’t be disappointed. Important people die in this story – I won’t tell you who. You’ll have to read the book to find out. While Copen doesn’t go on a killing spree of Gearge R.R. Martin proportions, I teared up as old “friends” died. Magick flows throughout the book, sometimes from those whom you’d least expect to show it. And, in a horrifying turn of events, extreme measures are taken to save the life of one of the characters. This book was well worth waiting for. I recommend it highly.
While there are a few spoilers in this review, I’ve tried to avoid major spoilers. I wish I could say more about what happens! There are two personal issues I need to point out: 1) I’m one of the few readers who has actually lived in Paint Rock. I’m predisposed to like these stories. The Paint Rock of the book is different from the Paint Rock I lived in – but that makes sense given the whole back story and situation. 2) I’m always leery when people start bringing in “Christian fundamentalist” organizations as the bad guy. Followers of Christ are “my people” and as the Tribulation Adventists were introduced, all sorts of warning bells rang in my head. Copen deals with the issues in a very respectful manner as she unveils the true dynamics of this group. My personal commentary on this is that it’s easy for any manipulative group to claim to be a “Christian” group by taking a few verses of things Jesus said out of context and using them to control others. Copen revealed the manipulation in a way that shows this group isn’t really a Christian group. (I guess that’s a bit of a spoiler, but I did it anyway.)