Fire Devil by J.L. Bryan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book is the second of a pair, and I will say upfront, this killed much of the enjoyment for me. I gave the first book in this pair, The Monster Museum, a 1 star review, because the split just left it without a substantial story, but you can read that review separately. I am not being as caustic about this book, but my rating is low compared to most of the Ellie Jordan books, and here's why - it was too 'big'.
I don't mean in length, I mean in scope - like Terminal, which is #4 in the series, I felt the widening of the geography and the sheer number of ghosts detracted from the story - not to mention, it's finishing off the story that I think should have been in The Monster Museum. There's a whole mini story in the middle about a haunted hotel that could have been a book on its own, and it was the bit I enjoyed the most, and I loved the outcome of that bit. The actual climax of the main story I found overly large and therefore a bit anti-climatic, and I thought it was missing bits.
This book is the culmination of the long running arc featuring Anton Clay, and, as an aside here, I will mention the bits of the story that were written from Anton Clay's POV - I skipped every single one of them and it didn't matter a jot to the story - they were totally unnecessary and interrupted the flow of the plot, which has always been from Ellie's exclusive POV before. Okay, back to the finale - given how long we've been waiting for this showdown between Ellie and Clay, I knew it would be bigger than the 'villainous ghost of the book' encounter, but I was also expecting the climax to pick up other references from throughout the other books. Some it did, some it didn't, and the big one I think that was left out was Ellie's ability to skip out of her body, which seems to have just been dropped in the last few books - was it too useful? I can see why it was left out, because so much was thrown in that the climax was overstuffed anyway, but it's a talent I found interesting, so I was a bit disappointed when it didn't get used. For the climax itself, the use of an entire town full of ghosts had the same effect as in Terminal, it spread out the threat and it was just a distraction. Greta and Clay were the only two ghosts who made much impact, even Amil from Monster House was just a sidekick with a few mentions, diminishing his threat in my head - his ring was more important than him in the end. I did enjoy how Clay and Ellie faced off though - that was a well written bit of drama.
So, in summary, this is not my favourite book of the Ellie Jordan series, in fact it's my second worst, just coming in better than The Monster Museum, but unlike that book, I did not want to throw my kindle across the room after 'finishing' it, and I used quotes, because The Monster Museum didn't finish. It was an adequate conclusion to the Anton Clay arc, and I want to read more Ellie Jordan books, where I hope to be raising my review scores back up to 4's and 5's again.
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