Greek mythology? Yes, please. I've always been interested in that subject, and I'm drawn to books that draw upon that for inspiration and is incorporated in a novel. The book Bright Fire, in particular, focuses upon the story of Hades and Persephone mainly. Those aren't the only two that make an appearance though; Hades, Hermes, and Cassandra do as well.
In this book Delfia is a high school student whose life is changed when she finds out who she really is after the her parents are killed on her birthday. Alec is assigned to be her guardian and protector. Delfia's best friend Lyla is soon involved as well. Overall, the characters were well drawn, and I liked them, Delfia especially. She had a snarkiness about her that I enjoyed. Some of the dialogue had me laughing out loud, including a reference to Twilight. Extra points for the mention of Lord of the Rings as well.
Now, for the things that might be improved upon. The book flowed well, which kept me reading. On the other hand, I didn't really think the sense of suspense was as well developed as it could have been, and the ending was rather abrupt. There were quite a few grammatical errors and punctuation mistakes which, on occasion, threw me out of the story. Aside from that, I enjoyed the story, and the ending left plenty there for a sequel.
My rating is 4/5 platypires.
As I’m standing outside the school waiting for my mom to pick me up, I feel a tap on my shoulder. I jump a little, what was wrong with me today? I turn around to see who’s trying to get my attention and meet the gray eyes of Alec Hales for the second time today. He’s never given me a passing glance before and now he seems intent on getting my attention. What does he want with me?
“What?”That catches him off guard as he takes a step back. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t expecting such a snippy greeting. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to snap at you. I’ve been having a rough day.” Why was I telling him this?
“I’m sorry if I freaked you out earlier with the whole staring thing.” He rubs the back of his neck. “I was just wondering if maybe you… Never mind.” He composes himself and just as he’s about to say something else; my mother pulls up and honks.
“Sorry, I gotta go,” I run off grateful to get out from under his stare.
“What was that about?” my mother asks as I shut the car door.
“I’m not sure.”
“What do you mean?”
“He was just acting super strange. It seemed like he wanted to tell me something but then stopped.” I shrug. Although, I don’t really know him well enough to say that this isn’t his normal behavior.
She turned on the blinker and pulled out of the parking lane. “Oh.”
I have a feeling there’s an undercurrent beneath that response, but I don’t know what it is.
“How was school?”
“The usual, I had a Chem test today, which I am sure I passed.”
“With flying colors,” she smiles turns on the blinker and pulls out of the school parking lot.
“Are those my two favorite girls in the world?” my dad asks as we walk through the door.
“Nope, we’re robbers here to steal all your stuff.” I slide my coat off and hang it on the rack.
I see my dad shuffling papers at his desk in the study. He smiles at me, “Well..my daughter won’t be too happy if you steal all her birthday presents.”
“Haha, very funny.” I grin at him.
“How was school?” He goes back to shuffling his papers.
“Strange.” I crinkle my nose at the memory.
“Yeah, why’s that?”
“This boy was acting weird and staring at me.”
“What’s his name? Do you want me to talk to his parents?”
I laugh a little, “Dad, that would be embarrassing. Besides I have to learn to handle this stuff on my own. Isn’t that what child psychiatrists say? I’ll just do my best to ignore Alec.”
His head snaps up and he drops his papers on his desk. “Alec? Alec Hales?”
“Yeah, how’d you know?”
“Just a guess, I’ve seen him working at the grocery store . He’s a good kid, you should give him a chance.”
A chance for what? “Ooook then. I’m going upstairs to do my homework. What time is dinner?”
“7 o'clock sharp. Don’t be late, or I won’t leave you any food.” he winks at me, but something about his attitude is different. I may not have ever had a boyfriend, but I’ve talked about boys before. It’s like now that I’m turning sixteen they’re finally realizing I may be girlfriend material.
“Love you, dad.” I turn towards the stairs and head to my room.
I start thinking about Lyla’s comment earlier. Sure they were becoming more intense as she pointed out, but they must have a good reason. My parents adopted me when I was born and they never hid it from me. We’ve always had an open and honest relationship, and I trust them. If they feel like they need to be over protective, then they have their reasons.
I drop my bag on my bed and pull out my homework.
After all my homework is done I figure I have some free time, so I decide to take a shower. I'm probably the luckiest teen on the planet to have my own bathroom. More than anything I want to just sit and relax in the Jacuzzi tub, but then I would be late to dinner. So I opt for a shower instead. I wash up slowly, reluctant to step out of the shower and leave the blissful heat.
I dry off and pull on some clothes just as I hear my mother yelling, “Delfia Marie Stryker!” Uh oh, the use of my full name, not a good sign.
“Yes, mom?” I’m trying to remember if I forgot to take out the trash this morning? I’m pretty sure I did.
She pokes her head through my door, “Just want you to know I love you.” She smiles, “Oh and dinner will be ready in 10 minutes.” She chuckles at my reaction, knowing she had me scared for a minute.
I haven't seen this side of her in a while. With the way she and dad have been acting lately, you would think the war was coming. They are extra cautious when driving; they check all the locks on the doors and windows, and while they love Lyla they are even giving me grief about spending time at her house. Even though I trust them, I just wish they would explain to me why they are acting like drill sergeants.
I head down the stairs slowly taking in the scene. There are ‘Happy Birthday’ banners and streamers everywhere. It’s a little toddler-esque, but it still makes me smile. I think I’ve died and gone to heaven as I walk into the kitchen. The smells coming from that general direction are making my mouth water and my stomach grumble. I can tell what is there before I make it to the dining room. They’ve made all of my favorites: pot roast, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, cheesecake and pumpkin pie.
“Holy moly, are we feeding an army? What’s the occasion?” I say all blasé like.
I start to sit in my usual chair on dad's right side, but he gently grabs my arm to stop me. “No, no, not tonight birthday girl. You get to sit at the head of the table.”
I flush; they’re going to extravagant measures to make me feel special on my birthday, “Aww, guys! You really didn't have to do all this.”
“Sure we did. Our only daughter will only turn 16 once,” she smiles but it doesn’t reach her eyes. I guess my growing up is hard for her. After all, college is only two short years away.
“Just so you know, most of this is mine, I am absolutely famished after spending all day on the spreadsheets for the Myers’ account.” My dad is staring at the food rubbing his stomach. My parents are accountants. Average; I know, but it pays for the Jacuzzi I have, so I don’t judge.
“Yeah, yeah. You try acing a Chem test, when your lab partner sleeps through the semester.”
“Oh now, I’m sure you did great.”
“Well… as a reward for acing this test, maybe you can let me get a license like every other 16-year-old on the planet.”
My mom gives me a reproachful look. “Dell, we only want what’s best for you.” Which translates to 'never gonna happen'.
I suck in a breath, getting ready to argue my side when my dad cuts in. “Now ladies, let’s not let this feast go to waste. How about we eat?”
We both mumble OK, but there is no way I'm letting this one go. I pile my plate with doubles of everything. I’m not sure I can eat it all, but it’s just too delicious to pass up. I tune out my parent’s small talk as I savor every bite of my food. All of a sudden, I start thinking about Alec. It all just seemed so bizarre. The creepy feeling, the way he just stared, and how he was not even embarrassed when he was caught. I wonder what he was going to tell me before he changed his mind.
“Earth to Dell!” My father’s voice pulls me out of my train of thought.
“I asked if you are doing anything special for binge night with Lyla this weekend? Are you feeling OK?” He studies my face, his full of concern
“Yeah. I’m sorry; I’ve got a lot on my mind. Lyla mentioned something, but we never got to officially plan anything. I’ll find out tomorrow.”
“OK, just remember—”
I cut him off, “Don’t to stay out too late and call to check in.”
He grins a little and then turns serious, “I know you think we are being too hard on you, but we do this for your own good. The real world is a scary place for someone like you, and it is our job to protect you.”
“Wait, what?” that got my attention, “What do you mean someone like me?”
He hesitates for a just a second, but it is enough to make alarm bells go off in my brain. “I just mean a young lady.” His glance shifts to my mother for a brief second, but I notice it.
“Is there something you aren’t telling me?”
“Can you go into the basement and grab one of the jars of jam? I think I want to try it on this delicious looking cheesecake.” He keeps a straight face when looking at me but I can see a faint trace of something resembling worry behind his eyes.
“Uh, sure.” Obviously they want to be alone to discuss something they think I am too young to hear. Whenever they used to disagree on something they would send me off on a task so I wouldn’t overhear. I get up and head into the basement.
I stop at the door and listen. I know eavesdropping is childish but they are obviously hiding something from me.
“Molly, we should tell her.”
“James, now is not the time. It’s her birthday, we should wait until she can understand. Until she is more prepared.”
“She’s stronger than you give her credit for and once she turns sixteen…”
“I’m well aware of the situation, but is it too much to ask to keep her innocence just a little while longer?”
“Yes, let’s finish this discussion later, she should be coming back soon.”
My head is spinning. What were they talking about? I take a deep breath, compose myself and grab the doorknob. Before I can open it, I hear my mother scream.
Ten Fun Facts
1.) I am a mother of 3
2.) I'm always working on crafts like knitting, crochet, etc.
3.) I was born in Germany
4.) I have a Master's in IT project management
5.) I love photography
6.) My favorite authors are Tess Gerritsen, Lisa Gardner, James Patterson, and Lilly M. Love
7.) I am 28 going on 45
8.) I live in Tennessee
9.) I am a tech junkie and try to buy all the newest tablets, phones, etc.
10.) I make a mean meatloaf
About the Author
M.J. Austin has always found the world of fantasy preferable to the real world. She channels this love of mystical worlds and creatures into her writing. She is an avid reader and proud bookworm. She has a Master's Degree in Project Management, but her true passion is writing.
When she isn't working or writing she is diving into random projects as often as possible. She lives in Tennessee with three children, husband, and three dogs.
Read more about M.J. at http://www.mjaustinbooks.com
Contact MJ Austin