Black Fire Concerto by Mike Allen

I was given a copy of Black Fire Concerto for review by its author Mike Allen.  You can find a little bit more information about Mike and his work here and also check out this interview with the Bookstore Blogger Connection.  With other links here and here – Mike Allen certainly seems to be generating a lot of interest!

Black Fire Concerto is set in a new and harsh world.  Plagued by terrible storms the world has changed beyond recognition.  Ghouls exist, dark magic and completely new species have evolved from the fall out.  At the start of the story Erzelle is captive aboard the Red Empress.  A sinister place, the Red Empress is the place where the elite come to dine.  But, before you start dashing to book yourself a table be aware that some of the guests of honour who come to dinner will play a much bigger part in the dining experience than they ever imagined (think Hannibal Lecter).  Erzelle’s parents were lured aboard under similar circumstances, believing that they would be part of the entertainment on board but once there they were brutally murdered leaving behind Erzelle who now lives aboard, playing her harp, witness to atrocities and murders and basically living on borrowed time until she reaches an age where her worth will change from harpist to something else completely.  Living in constant fear of death Erzelle’s fate is about to change when the next guest to board the Empress and partake of the strange fayre comes aboard.  Olyssa is that guest.  She’s on a journey, seeking to find her sister and rescue her.  In the process she’s going to rescue Erzelle and the two will strike up a friendship at first based on gratitude and survival but later turning to one of respect and akin to teacher/pupil as they cross this strange land in search of Lilla.  Of course nothing is ever that straightforward and the two are going to run from one crisis to the next culminating in a dark showdown.

Now, this is only a fairly short novel so I don’t want to give away too much in terms of the plot and what’s going on.  It’s basically a rescue mission with a difference.  There’s dark magic involved and it would be remiss of me at this point not to mention that this is a fairly brutal world.  I would describe this as fantasy/horror I suppose if pushed.  There is certainly no lack of dead bodies and ick.

In terms of characters the main characters are as described above with a couple of additions.  Erzelle and Olyssa,  Olyssa’s sister Lilla and Reneer.  So what can I tell you about the characters?  Erzelle is only young, 12 I think,  in fact I was surprised at first at just how young the author had made her but on second thoughts it seems you can do a lot with these young characters.  I know at first there’s an element of ‘oh really’ but people brought up in different circumstances will react in different ways and will become completely different in character to those who live a charmed and protected life.  I also think that by making Erzelle fairly young this gave the author the ability to some times make her seem immature and petulant without it being unrealistic in the eyes of the reader.  Almost, yes, she’s young, she’s a product of her circumstances but also she’s still a child and that sometimes comes across.  Olyssa is a great character.  She strides around full of confidence.  She doesn’t have a plan really just goes bursting into things with the self belief that things will be okay.   She’s strong if somewhat misguided and also a little bit naive when it comes to her sister.  Reneer was my favourite.  He’s one of the mutations that have come about as result of the strange environment.  Almost foxlike and tall.  He’s witty and snarky and just the sort of person who it seems you can depend on in a fix.  He made me laugh and he was also kind of cool in that whilst he was protective of those he cared for he didn’t overtake the show.

The world building isn’t really deep although the current circumstances are explained when Olyssa flashes back to the two sisters earlier home life.  It seems that the magic is something that both sisters were born with inherent in their beings but in order to use this magic they have to embrace the dark side with possibly extreme results.

In terms of criticisms – I have two which are both relatively minor.  I don’t quite understand the motivation for Lilla – short of wanting to be their father’s favourite maybe – I don’t understand how she could desire to achieve such destruction but then I suppose she’s just crazy with the desire for power.  The second minor point is that I would have enjoyed more.  I think that at the moment this is fairly compactly written and could have been expanded but perhaps that’s just me being greedy.  It’s more usual to say that a book could be cut to make it more punchy but in this case I would have liked a bit more flesh on the bones.

I certainly would like to think that this was a starter to something more.  I could easily see these characters taking on more adventures in a sort of chase between good and evil.  I would definitely like more from these characters and a chance to see this world expanded upon

Lets hope for some more instalments.  And, on a really cheeky note perhaps the author would like to stop on over for an interview so that I could throw some questions his way?  Hey, stranger things have happened right??


25 Responses to “Black Fire Concerto by Mike Allen”

  1. nrlymrtl

    I have heard Mike Allen’s name from the Clockwork Phoenix anthologies. Cool that he has at least one novel to his name. The cover looks great (I popped over to goodreads to have a look). Sounds like a very intriguing book.

    • lynnsbooks

      Aw, I forgot to mention the cover!! Damn. I’m normally all about the mentioning of the cover and how awesome they are and now I went and forgot!
      Lynn 😀

  2. Redhead

    i am super excited to read Black Fire Concerto! dark, violent, creepy, sounds great!!

    • lynnsbooks

      Yeah! I would have liked some more – is that greedy!
      Lynn 😀

  3. Shakti Ghosal

    Reading your post, the novel seems interesting. Usually though I much prefer fast paced and positive endings rather than dark stuff.


    • lynnsbooks

      To be honest I thought this was fairly quick paced and not necessarily negative however it is definitely dark.
      Lynn 😀

  4. TBM

    I hope you get your wish and he agrees to an interview. And are you really asking for another series. I love your dedication to series!

    • lynnsbooks

      I know, I need to stop with the series – although strictly speaking it’s not my fault as there are not really that many stand alone novels out there these days! Not sure I’d be any good at an interview to be honest. I haven’t done one before and I’d probably just use it as an opportunity to ask all my nosey questions.
      Lynn 😀

      • TBM

        I would love to see your nosey questions and to read his answers. I’ve done a couple of interviews of authors and it’s fun. All of them have been so kind!

      • lynnsbooks

        OMG – your comment was in spam!!! What the hell is that all about. Anyway, no problem, I’ll keep checking it!
        Haha, i don’t suppose I’ll have an interview (although in fairness I haven’t actually requested one, so, ahem…..) I’m a shrinking violet!
        Lynn 😀

      • TBM

        Oh you should ask him for one. Of course it’s easy for me to say since I don’t have to do the asking 🙂 Thanks for checking the spam folder. I hope that means I’ll be okay on this blog. For now at least. Glad you had a great trip!

  5. Mike Allen

    Consider this agreement to an interview! 😀

  6. Author Interview: Mike Allen, Black Fire Concerto | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] to receive a copy of The Black Fire Concerto from it’s author Mike Allen.  My review is here and if you like dark fantasy and horror this could be for you.  Cheekily I chucked out there that […]

  7. DESCENT INTO LIGHT » Blog Archive » THE BLACK FIRE CONCERO now available on Kindle (+ reviews)

    […] Fire Concerto that I’m pleased to share here.   At Lynn’s Book Blog, there’s a lengthy, thoughful review: […]

  8. DESCENT INTO LIGHT » Blog Archive » THE BLACK FIRE CONCERTO now available on Kindle (+ reviews)

    […] Fire Concerto that I’m pleased to share here.   At Lynn’s Book Blog, there’s a lengthy, thoughful review: […]

  9. Redhead

    I wondered if Lilla’s attitude problem had something to do with her magic? the way the magic was starting to seduce Erzelle, I wonder if something like that but on a much larger scale happened to Lilla. Her and Olyssa’s father seems like a piece of work, and not in a good way.

    • lynnsbooks

      I wondered the same thing about Erzelle being a bit seduced by the dark side. Luckily Olyssa is a strong character who is determined to keep her on the straight and narrow. She definitely enjoyed her initial burst of power and kept trying to tap into it.
      Lynn 😀

  10. Two Dudes in an Attic

    Little Red’s review convinced me that I need to check this out, despite my initial skepticism. It is not, apparently, some sort of emo paranormal romance, which is rather what I expected from the title and cover. (Too much time around Japanese goth lolis perhaps??)

    • lynnsbooks

      Haha, definitely not an emo paranormal romance! I thought it was really good – only short, would make a good series. I see what you mean about the cover, young girls in floaty dresses seem to adorm most YA novels these days – although I admit I quite liked this cover!
      Lynn 😀

  11. Grace

    This looks really really really good. Now I have to read it.

    • lynnsbooks

      The only problem I had with this book was that I wanted more!
      Lynn 😀

  12. “The Black Fire Concerto” by Mike Allen | Books Without Any Pictures

    […] seeing glowing reviews at The Little Red Reviewer, Lynn’s Book Blog, and Just Book Reading, I knew I had to read The Black Fire Concerto.  I’m on a book-buying […]

  13. "The Black Fire Concerto" by Mike Allen Books Without Any Pictures

    […] seeing glowing reviews at The Little Red Reviewer, Lynn’s Book Blog, and Just Book Reading, I knew I had to read The Black Fire Concerto.  I’m on a book-buying […]

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