Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: Yay and Maybe
All Lanore Vesta wants to do is graduate college and make enough money to avoid supplementing her income by stealing. She, along with thousands of other Supernaturals (or Supes), lives in a caged city outside Miami, one of many throughout the country. It’s in this world that Kenya Wright opens up an interesting, entertaining, and altogether unique story involving the Supes’ seedy nightlife, the underground world around her, and a ritualistic serial killer worthy of the best Dexter episode.
There’s a lot to love about Wright’s debut novel. She crafts a world so like and unlike our own with a fear of the unknown, this overwhelming urge to separate out what’s different from what’s considered “normal.” She gives us a world cut off from the one we know, one that resembles the seediest noire setting. Full of gangs, unexpected violence, Supes just trying to make ends meet, and a group attempting to bring equality to a horrifically unequal world. The characters are well-rounded, hilarious, and pretty smart, ranging from Mixbreeds like Lanore to trolls, vampires, fae, and all the Weres you can handle. She also sets up an entertaining love triangle between Lanore; her were-cheetah ex, MeShack; and Zulu, the head of the group Mixbreeds for Equality (MFE). It’s an intense triangle, too, more True Blood than Twilight, and the source of a lot of juicy tension between the three.
Wright also sets us up with a murder mystery. Coming home from the University, Lanore walks straight into a murder. Here’s where we get into the maybe territory. This book isn’t for the squeamish. I’m not terribly squeamish—I can watch Dexter or medical shows or whatever and not flinch. However a few of the descriptions in the book had me both enthralled and slightly nauseated. She’s quite creative regarding the murder case, its connection to the West African and Caribbean religion of Santeria (also a popular Sublime song), and the clues leading to the killer. If you can handle the ick factor, then go for it.
I also found a few issues with confusing world-building, especially concerning technology. It doesn’t detract from the book overall, but it’s something to watch out for.
All in all, Fire Baptized is a fun, engaging read. I’m looking forward to book 2 of the series and to more from Kenya Wright in general.