‘Infernal Enchantment’ – Firebrand #2 by Helen Harper – having fun binge-reading this series

Another too hot day spent disappearing into Helen Harper’s Firebrand series. I don’t normally read a series back to back but with this series, in this weather, that’s like opening a box of Pringles and telling yourself that you’re only going to eat one when you know you’ll graze until they’re gone.

‘Infernal Enchantment’ carries on a few weeks after ‘Brimstone Bound’. I was delighted that Helen Harper avoided all the second book in a series pitfalls. She didn’t spend a lot of time rehashing what happened in book one and she didn’t repeat the plot with small changes. She introduced a new mystery to solve, she put our heroine, Emma, into new kinds of dangerous situations and even gave her the training to handle them. She introduced new types of supernatural creatures, giving me a picture of ghouls I’ve never had before. She succeeded in making humans the most dangerous element in the story while continuing to develop Emma’s insight into the politics of the wolves and the vampires.

Best of all, she kept up the energy and the pace so that my attention never lagged and while she developed the relationship between Emma and the lead vampire, she didn’t let it devolve into a Supernatural Romance cliché of unresolved sexual tension that’s eventually going to result in the mandatory sex scene. Instead she enhanced Emma’s awareness of the vampire’s ability and instinct to weaponise his charm and made her wonder about how far she could trust someone with that habit. She let Emma grow without changing into someone I didn’t recognise any more and she’s really got me guessing about the is it? / isn’t it sentient? car.

The action scenes worked. The mystery was interesting. The conclusion was satisfying. I could see things coming without knowing how they would work out, which is always fun and, while I learned more about Emma and her world, I was left hungry to learn more.

So it’s a good job that I’ve already downloaded the next book in the series, ‘Midnight Smoke’ so I can start it this evening as I sit in the garden with a decent cider in my hand.

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