Juno Books

SPARKS by Laura Bickle


Praise for Embers, First in the Series

"Bickle has something great in Anya. Embers has everything: demons, ghosts, dragons, love, sex, police, and murder." -- M.L.N. Hanover, bestselling author of Darker Angels

"Gritty but never grim, Embers is a truly urban fantasy, where the soul of a city haunts every page. I can't wait for more of Anya and the unforgettable Sparky!" -- Jeri Smith-Ready, award-winning author of Bad to the Bone and Shade

September 2010
Mass Market Paperback
352 pages | $7.99
ISBN: 9781439167717

On Simon&Schuster.com

Without a trace.

WITHOUT A TRACE Anya Kalinczyk is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, who holds down a day job as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department--while working 24/7 to exterminate malicious spirits plaguing a city plagued by unemployment and despair. Along with her inseparable salamander familiar, Sparky, Anya has seen, and even survived, all manner of fiery hell--but her newest case sparks suspicions of a bizarre phenomenon that no one but her eccentric team of ghost hunters might believe: spontaneous human combustion.

After fire consumes the home of elderly Jasper Bernard, Anya is stunned to discover his remains-- or, more precisely, the lack of them; even the fiercest fires leave some trace of their victims--and she is sure this was no naturally-occurring blaze. Soon she's unearthed a connection to a celebrity psychic who preys on Detroit's poor, promising miracles for money. But Hope Solomon wants more--she's collecting spirits, and in a frantic race against time, Anya will face down an evil adversary who threatens her fragile relationship with her lover, her beloved Sparky's freshly-hatched newts, and the wandering souls of the entire city.

Don't miss Embers! (Book One)

Reviews of Embers:

"One of the most promising debut novels I've read in a great while... I'd highly recommend this book to anybody who reads fantasy. It reminds me in many regards...of another exceptional first novel...Emma Bull's seminal War for the Oaks, and there's not much higher praise that I can give."-- Elizabeth Bear, Tor.com

"Bickle's dark, dramatic urban fantasy debut introduces Lt. Anya Kalinczyk of the Detroit Fire Department, who investigates arson by day and huntsghosts at night. As a unique type of medium, a Lantern or "human bug zapper," Anya can simply inhale and destroy spirits while accompanied by her familiar, a...salamander named Sparky...Though she's a far cry from the usual hip, cheeky urban fantasy heroine, Anya's stoic determination is completely apropos for a crime-solving loner. Bickle provides plenty of suspense as the arsonist tries to raise a powerful elemental being, and Anya accidentally absorbs a demon that threatens to possess her. Readers will look forward to Anya's future supernatural investigations.--Publishers Weekly

"With a lovable narrator who fights daily with good and evil, Bickle delivers a fun new addition to fantasy reading. She packs her novel with an overall sense of doom, peppered with side stories and relationships that make this a fast, entertaining read. Hardly a dull moment! (4 Stars)"--RT Book Reviews

"Embers takes the reader on a fast-paced, page-turning adventure, as Anya, Sparky, and DAGR race to save Detroit--and Anya herself--from demons and ancient gods. Bickle has written a fantastically believable world that a reader can get lost in. Embers, is hands down, bar none, the best Urban Fantasy written by a debut author, hell, written by anyone, that I have read in a very long time. I look forward to reading more about Anya and Sparky and the mishmash of others that complete DAGR in Bickle's next release Sparks."--Novel Reads

"Embers is a strong debut; well written and peopled by diverse and intriguing characters. The unexpected beauty of the fiery entity, the playful malignance of the demon that inhabits Anya, and the flashes of humanity demonstrated by her enemy all enrich this book....this is a winner, and I look forward to reading Anya's further adventures. And her familiar Sparky is one of my new favorite paranormal creatures."-- Debuts & Reviews

"Embers is the debut novel from author Laura Bickle. Right from the beginning I knew that this book was going to be a winner. I was right. My thoughts about this book never wavered. If anything, my excitement grew. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of the next book, Sparks. Sparky [a salamander] is the best familiar any psychic could ever own. The way Sparky would act made me laugh. Watch out Ghost Busters as there is a new sheriff in town, and her name is Anya. She is sharp, sassy, and can kick some serious spirit soul. Laura Bickle is an author to keep an eye on as she is going far. Embers proves it. (Five Angels)-- Fallen Angels

"Anna Kalinczyk [is] a down to earth person, who just happens to be a Lantern, a rare kind of psychic medium. But she's completely cool -- she's not unearthly beautiful, impossibly smart, and just too amazing to be real; she's a real person who just happens to be a Lantern. I really appreciated that Laura Bickle wrote Anna to be this way; she's not too perfect, and that's what makes her a great character. Bickle also created a really interesting story here, where there is a real-life setting, completely with some real-life situations, mixed in with the magical. There's just enough of both elements to make the story gritty and intriguing, and somehow, pretty believable...All in all, a good read."--Fluidity of Time

"Urban fantasy fans will relish this superb entry of a kick butt female who takes both her day and night jobs seriously. Anya knows fire investigation and paranormal inquiries are dangerous and acts accordingly. The fast-paced story line follows her exploits on the mean streets of Detroit and its even meaner underground. Sub-genre fans will wonder which Lantern will prevail with Sirrush from beyond."-- Alternative Worlds

"Ms. Bickle pens a dynamite urban fantasy debut complete with fascinating characters, a great action filled plot, set in a very atmospheric, eerie and dark Detroit. Her characters are rich and captivating, fitting nicely into the backdrop of Detroit's gritty and deadly supernatural scene. The plot is fast-paced and the magic is thoroughly integrated into the story, making Embers a real page-turner....Overall, Embers is an impressive debut. Think Ghost Hunters meets Supernatural... Ms. Bickle delivers great storytelling, compelling characters, and top-notch worldbuilding. Embers is well written with a fresh and unique mythology. Danger, demons and Devil's Night abound, making this book hard to put down."--Dark Faerie Tales

"Plot: 5 Stars:The arson aspect of the plot was amazing and interesting to read about...My favorite part was how Anya had to balance the two aspects of her life -- being a fire investigator and a lantern -- in a world where few knew about the paranormal.
Pace: 5 Stars:There was never a dull moment. A couple times, I took a break from reading and was like, Whoa! I read that much?...
Characters: 5 Stars:I absolutely loved Sparky, Anya's salamander familiar... Anya was a very likeable heroine. I enjoyed learning both about her powers as a Lantern and her job as an arson investigator. I also found the members of DAGR to be a good group of people, and I hope to see more of them (especially Brian and Katie) in the sequel."--Urban Fantasy Reader

"Embers smolders with urban fantasy originality and suppressed emotional turmoil... Bickle exploits everything that makes a good urban fantasy in Embers. A tragically haunted main character that is tough as nails, yet close to breaking because of emotional strain. A background urban setting that sets the tone of the novel. An originally crafted plot that sets itself apart from all the other vampire and werewolf stories that are jostling each other for recognition. A simmering romance that isn't the main focus, but is touched on just enough to build tension. I was highly impressed with Bickle's debut....A superb example of the Urban Fantasy genre, Embers is an easy and entertaining adult read. Prime for fans of the UF genre and a great starter for those that would love to jump into this genre."Parajunkee

"Embers is exactly what I was hoping it would be--a killer debut urban fantasy. I connected with the characters immediately, but almost as importantly, I connected with the setting... I absolutely loved Bickle's burning Detroit, a city on the verge of consuming itself. A city, as Anya bleakly observes, that no sane person would want to stay in, but that she can't help but hope some will. Someone with the vision to reinvest and rebuild in the future of both the city and the isolated residents who walk its dying streets. The narrative is dotted with very real glimpses into the gritty lives of everyday people on the streets. These are thrown into relief by the side-by-side depictions we get of those other everyday people who died and are lingering for whatever reason. The effect is at once thoughtful and haunting. As for Anya, she's my kind of heroine. She fights the good fight every single day, despite her doubts and uncertainty, despite her fragmented history, despite the very real ghosts that plague her. Luckily, she has one of the best sidekicks I've run across in awhile. A salamander protector-brilliant!...I enjoyed all the secondary characters as well, particularly the refreshingly normal (though by no means boring Brian), her good friend and organic witch/baker Katie, and the dark man behind the recent reign of fire himself. This is a dark, serious, and intense read and I was especially satisfied with the resolution. This is the first in a series and yet Ms. Bickle happily resisted the temptation to leave a million and a half plot threads hanging...A fantastic new urban fantasy and highly recommended."-- Angieville

"Embers is...the first book of a sizzling new series that is sure to leave you smoldering for more...Embers is the epitome of urban fantasy--this is what the genre is all about: a little hard and edgy, emotional, with a dash of romance thrown in-a-ll tied together in a complex world peppered with supernatural creatures and phenomenon... a great UF book filled with emotional turmoil, a character that is richly developed (but not complete which hopefully means we will get to see plenty of character growth in the upcoming books) and the world building is solid. The minor characters are great story supporters..."(Five stars...or fangs or whatever)--Fang-tastic Reviews

Embers is a hot debut novel for Laura Bickle... The tone of the novel was much darker than I expected, exploring several deeper emotions such as lust, guilt and personal responsibility in slightly uncomfortable ways (for me at least). Anya is a conflicted young woman with deeply rooted guilt issues and a problem with forming personal connections, not particularly uncommon in today's UF heroines, but Bickle takes it a step forward with Anya's growing fear that one unwary step will burn her life down. Uncertain about the exact nature of her power as a Lantern (spirits are attracted to her like a moth to flame and she has the power to devour them, burning them to nothingness), Anya fights her nature. Meeting the firebug with an oddly do-gooder mentality, confirms her worst fears, but also opens her up to exploring who and what she could be... The cast surrounding Anya, both supernatural and otherwise, all have distinct personalities."-- Poisoned Rationality

"Bickle evokes the decay and aura of sadness surrounding Detroit, yet also infuses her depiction with an air of hope, personified by the character of Anya who never gives up... The author magically transforms the unseen creatures and spirits into beings easily perceived and envisioned by the reader, skillfully juxtaposing the characters who can and those who cannot see Sparky and the ghosts. With vivid characterization, stark imagery, and true suspense keeping the reader guessing until the end, this outstanding novel hits all the right notes. Urban fantasy fans will welcome this new addition to the genre...(5 stars/tombstones)--Bitten By Books

About the Author

Laura Bickle has worked in the unholy trinity of politics, criminology, and technology for several years. She and her chief muse live in the Midwest, owned by four mostly-reformed feral cats. Her short fiction has appeared here and there. Embers, first in this exciting new urban fantasy series, was her debut as novelist. Sparks continues the series.

Laura also writes as Alayna Williams. Alayna's "debut" was Dark Oracle, Pocket Juno's June 2010 release.

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