I’ve become a very discerning reader in the past few years.
That being said, it’s time for another book review. This review is not for my reading challenge, but rather for Xpresso Book Tours.
Above the Flames, Book One in The Flames Trilogy by Cassandra Fear.
My first thought upon seeing the book cover was that it’s a very catchy cover. If I were picking this up in a library or a bookstore, I’d be tempted to look at the description on the back cover or even read the first few pages to see if it’s any good.
The premise behind this book is that Jasmine is just your normal, everyday teenager, who just happens to be able to shoot flames from her hands at will. On her sixteenth birthday, her father is killed and her mother throws her out of the house to live with her grandparents. Two years pass, and on her eighteenth birthday, all Hell breaks loose. (literally) Demons from Hell come to invade Earth and kidnap her, and she becomes embroiled in the fight between Heaven and Hell, all the while fighting to keep her attraction for her fallen angel rescuer Amon in check. A paranormal urban fantasy with some romantic undertones.
The full synopsis is as follows:
Jasmine’s sixteenth birthday was the worst ever…
All in one day, her dad died, she met a demon, and her mother rejected her existence forever. After all, the demon who killed her dad was there to take her, and all because of her stupid powers—the ability to conjure blue flames.
Two years later, she’s happy. But happy never lasts…
After moving to Idaho to live with her grandparents, Jasmine has a new life. Almost nobody knows about her powers, and she’s just a normal teenager with normal problems. Then comes her eighteenth birthday—and the earthquake that changes her world forever.
An army of demons rise from Hell. And Jasmine is right in the middle of the battle…
When demons claw their way to Earth, Jasmine is surrounded by hundreds of fire-eyed beasts. Worse, she is captured by a big-shot demon named Bael. He’s a tricky foe with a chip on his shoulder—and the desire to make Jasmine use her powers for evil.
Amon is a fallen angel with an attitude—and everything to lose.
Successfully escaping the underworld undetected, Amon is on a quest to regain God’s grace when he rescues Jasmine from the clutches of a particularly nasty demon he knows all too well. The attraction between him and the not-entirely-human captive is instantaneous. Heavenly sparks fly, but ideas of romance will have to wait. First they have to stop the demon race from wiping out the mortal realm. Humanity’s fate rests in their hands.
Can two troubled angels rise above the flames to ensure a future for mankind? Or will Jasmine and Amon’s souls be bound together—in hell?
In this review, I will be evaluating the book based on several aspects: plot, pacing, description, point of view, characterization, dialogue, spelling and grammar, believability, and final thoughts, such as whether or not I would recommend it to friends and family and if I would be tempted to buy and read Book Two when it comes out.
So has this book passed the “Corinne” test?
Let’s look first at the plot. Without going into spoiler territory, the plot is quite enjoyable. It follows a logical progression, with believable situations, and is easy to follow. And at the end of the book, I have to admit that I was satisfied at the resolution. In addition, the pacing of the book isn’t too rushed and doesn’t drag. My only problem with the plot of this novel is that multiple times, the angels say “Rewards were set for the demons in this war,” but they don’t say by whom, or for what reason. And considering that the main plot of this novel is the war between the angels and demons, I think it’s pretty important that we know who set the rewards and why.
Although I do assume that this might be something that will be touched upon further in book two, so I’m not deducting any points for that. It was just something I noticed as I read.
The book also wins full points for description and point of view. Occasionally, I found myself asking whether or not a character knew something they shouldn’t – for example, one scene in Amon’s point of view has him describing Jasmine’s eyes as “coffee-colored,” and I wasn’t really clear on whether or not he’d know what coffee is. But these are very, very minor.
My problems come with character development. I had trouble connecting emotionally with the main character, Jasmine. Most of the time she seemed like a one-dimensional character, always obsessed with making either Amon or Beau, her boyfriend, fall in love or stay in love with her. We never really got to see much of her aside from that, until the very end, when she is kidnapped by the demons and gets a chance to react to situations without it affecting how Amon or Beau view her.
One saving grace of this book is that there are multiple POV characters besides Jasmine, including Amon, the fallen-angel-turned-love-interest, and he is a good character to read – very believable, very interesting, and quite sympathetic. I had no problems becoming and staying emotionally connected to him. My only problem with the demons – the main villains of this novel – was that we had two different demons, Belze and Bael, and I kept getting them confused; Belze was Bael’s direct subordinate, and so they had a lot of scenes together, and I had trouble telling them apart sometimes because both of them had names starting with “B.”
Another problem I had with characterization was that occasionally, I wasn’t able to believe some characters’ motivations and reactions. For example, a subplot was introduced in terms of Jasmine’s mother, who never loved her daughter because Jasmine was adopted and not her biological child and she apparently “wasn’t cut out to be a mother.” Yet she still signed the papers and raised the kid for sixteen years, and she had a choice long ago not to become a mother. And Jasmine, upon hearing this revelation, gets incredibly angry at her mother for not telling her this earlier, which I also had trouble believing, because if that’s so, wouldn’t she also get angry with her (deceased) father for not telling her that earlier?
The fallen angels’ dialogue and the demons’ dialogue is believable and seems to fit with their characters, but Jasmine’s dialogue didn’t feel like a real teenager was speaking the lines. In the first ten or so chapters, she sounded too mature for a teenage girl, until her dialogue kind of fixed itself later on in the novel. But she was also really annoying, too – she kept saying “fan-fricking-tastic,” when teenagers don’t even say that anymore. This hasn’t really been a popular phrase since the turn of the century, and it didn’t make her sound like a real teenager.
My biggest problem with this novel was, by far, the spelling and grammar errors.
Comma splices, incorrect verb forms, misspelled words, missing “had” in a sentence so that it was in the simple past (She was) rather than the past perfect (She had been) that messed up the timing of the entire scene, etc.
This book really could have used a good editor to catch all these typos. Each time I found a typo, I was drawn out of the story because then I had to figure out what the sentence was actually supposed to mean. My overarching thought through this entire book was “This book really could have used a good editor.”
If anyone’s curious, I counted 32 individual typos in this book. That means I got drawn out of the story 32 times not by my own choosing. And the prose reads a little bit stilted, not smooth and flowing as it should.
Moving on: is this book believable? Did the author successfully get me to suspend my disbelief and make me think that these characters and their situation was real, and could maybe happen in reality? Yes, for the most part.
Would I recommend this book to friends and family? Yes, if it was edited properly and given a re-release with all the typos fixed.
Would I be tempted to buy Book Two when it comes out? Perhaps. My biggest complaint with this book is that it wasn’t edited properly and there were a lot of sentence-level errors that prevented me from being completely absorbed into the story. But if Book Two was edited properly, then yes, I might be tempted to find it in the library or bookstore and read the first few chapters to see if it was any good.
This last aspect is something that I would only consider for a book that is part of a series, which this one is. (Book One in a trilogy). Does this book accomplish what it set out to do? Does it present an overall arching plot that will sustain three entire books yet give us some sort of satisfying conclusion at the end of this one? My answer is yes, it does. A rather satisfying ending, tying up some loose ends to the overall arching plot yet leaving us with a bigger question: Will Lucifer be able to take over Earth and turn it into his new Hell, or will the angels be able to stop him from achieving his goal?
So after all is said and done, what is my overall rating of this work?
I’d say that Above the Flames by Cassandra Fear gets a solid four out of five star rating from me. An enjoyable novel with just enough plot twists to keep you guessing, whose biggest fault is all the spelling and grammar errors that should have been caught by her editor before publication that drew me out of the story. But aside from that, a fun read.
About the Author
And guess what? Limitless Publishing is giving away a free signed copy of Above the Flames to one lucky winner! The giveaway ends May 12, so sign up below. All the links on this page will open in a new tab, because I’m all about convenience.:)
And don’t forget to check out some of my other posts.
That’s all for today. Thank you to all who stopped by my blog to celebrate my friend Cassie’s book release. Don’t forget to like this post, share it on social media, follow my blog for more awesome book reviews, and leave a comment below telling me what you thought of Above the Flames!
Can’t get enough of Above the Flames? Well, why not follow the entire blog tour? Follow the link below to find information as to other blogs that are reviewing the book, interviewing the author, or hosting a guest post by Cassandra herself!
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you later! May your swords stay sharp! 乙女