Within the Flames

Within the Flames - Marjorie M. Liu

When she was twelve, Lyssa watched as her parents were murdered for their powers. Feared and cast out of the shapeshifter community because of her mother’s heritage, Lyssa has no one to turn to. In order to survive, she has been living on the streets, hiding her erratic powers, and avoiding others. However, the murder of the one person who knew what Lyssa was leads her parents’ killer straight to her. It also sends Dirk and Steele pyrokinetic, Eddie, her way.

Eddie has always had trouble controlling his powers and his most recent flameout was caused by news that his sister’s killer had been released from jail for good behavior. He wants nothing more than to hunt down her murderer, but finds himself assigned the task of protecting Lyssa. Working with the gargoyle, Lannes, he discovers that Lyssa is not the helpless little lamb they had been led to believe. Instead, he finds himself faced with a woman who everyone, Lannes included, seems to instinctively fear and hate. Soon enough, Eddie finds he's the only one willing to help Lyssa take down her parents’ killer.

Eddie has been a reoccurring character in the series since the very first book, so I was pretty thrilled to see him get his own story. He hasn’t had it very easy, with his powers constantly flaring up and almost killing him. He also didn’t have a very great childhood, growing up with an abusive step-father and then living on the streets for a little while. What I loved about this, though, was how his past experiences made it easier for him to understand where Lyssa was coming from. He was understanding of her predicament, but also knew when to push at the walls she put up around herself.

Lyssa was another of Liu’s great heroines, but I think she was also one of the most vulnerable. Don’t misunderstand when I say vulnerable for lacking backbone though. The girl has some serious guts; she just had been on her own for a long time and it shows. So, to have Eddie pop into her life and then refuse to abandon her (even with everyone saying that he should) touches and scares her to death. She’s petrified that he’ll die either by her own hand or by the person who’s hunting her.

One of the things that I really love about this series is how Liu incorporates her side characters. She never makes them flat and when she brings in main characters from past books, it’s always to serve a purpose. She did that in this one with Lannes, the hero from The Wild Road. He was a pretty prominent figure in the story, but he wasn’t exactly the good guy here, which I just loved. He had reasons behind his motivations and seeing how much he feared and hated Lyssa highlighted just how prejudiced the paranormal community is. Because seriously? Lannes is such a sweet character that seeing animosity and distrust from him was pretty shocking.

My only complaint, which really isn’t a complaint but me pouting, is that Koni didn’t make an appearance in this book. I missed the crow shifter. He’s the character that I always look forward to seeing in these books. Since Eddie got his own book I’m hoping and praying that Liu will eventually give Koni his. (Or that she'll even continue this series at all since its been almost 2 years since she wrote a book in this world.)