Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Shannon K. Butcher - Burning Alive

They are the Sentinels...
Three races descended from ancient guardians of mankind, each possessing unique abilities in their battle to protect humanity against their eternal foes-the Synestryn. Now, one warrior must fight his own desire if he is to discover the power that lies within his one true love...
Helen Day is haunted by visions of herself surrounded by flames, as a dark-haired man watches her burn. So when she sees the man of her nightmares staring at her from across a diner, she attempts to flee-but instead ends up in the man's arms. There, she awakens a force more powerful and enticing than she could ever imagine. For the man is actually Theronai warrior Drake, whose own pain is driven away by Helen's presence.
Together, they may become more than lovers-they may become a weapon of light that could tip the balance of the war and save Drake's people...

Comment: This is yet another of the several paperbacks I've collected years ago and only now finally giving them a chance. I still have plenty more to go through...

In this novel, we are told about the Sentinels, a group of special humans who have powers to protect others from demons. However, their numbers are decreasing, there aren't many women anymore and the demons keep coming. Things become a bit more hopeful when Helen, a waitress, is found by a small group of Sentinels and Drake immediately recognizes her as a potential life mate.
Helen has dreamed for a long time she would die burning and a man would be looking at her with a happy expression. This has made her afraid of all things fire but the day she sees that man at the diner she works in, she can't escape her fate. She and the stranger can't seem to ignore the effect they have on each other, but before anything is explained, they have to deal with the enemy. This is how Helen sees herself in the middle of something she never imagined but will she have the courage to face her biggest fear and help so many people?

I've said before, I have many books which are the first in a series, which I got when my dedication to PNR was at its highest and now some are good gems, others don't mean as much as I would have wanted. Perhaps some really should have been read back then and I would have appreciated them more, as it happened with this one, to be honest. Some of these books are even hard to get in paperback now or have prohibitive prices, so I sometimes feel double bad about waiting so long.

This book has all the ingredients I would look for in a first book about a new paranormal world: a heroine who is unaware of her importance/powers, a hero eager to find happiness and help his people, a secondary group of people ready to claim protagonism as the stories evolve, and a world where there's an enemy to fight but always a reward to reach, among all the secrets waiting to unravel. It sounds quite good but I've found this one to be a bit too formulaic...

It's true, I would have liked it more, as I did like similar books back then and which today would not have the same feel, if I had picked the book right after I got it, but I kind of wanted the vibe between the characters to be more along the lines of "fellowship" and not just a collection of people with the same points in common, as it felt like. Drake and Zach and Thomas (and vampire Logan) are presented as friends/co workers who have the same goals, but they don't really feel like part of a close community of people. As the story progressed and we got to know more about Sentinels and vampires, this feelings never existed to me, and I suppose I'm spoiled after so many other worlds where people get along more or their lives are more easily in sync.

In fact, the world building of this world wasn't as detailed as I imagined, especially for a first book. Everything is left a bit in the air, many possibilities and hints about why the Sentinels are now living this way, why they can't fight the demons more efficiently and so on, but I don't think we were given enough detail on why it should matter that they succeeded beyond the basics of saving people. I wish we had more on the Sentinels' history, of who they were and, by the way, I would have liked a whole lot more of positive aspects about them instead of just the negative things and all the reasons why they are struggling.

I get the idea that these types of plots (group of heroes/heroines defending the world and finding their mates) need to follow certain patterns for things to have reason and for characters to reach their HEAs, but I didn't feel this world was that special nor addictive as others have been. In part, I just didn't feel that much connection with what was happening, but I also failed to see why these people should matter, since their world, their family/group had very little to recommend them.

The romance was pretty predictable, the dialogue between Drake and Helen not that special and apart from what we know because it is obvious, was the connection between that strong? I didn't get that feeling because the personality and their development wasn't really done, they didn't have time with all the demon hunting and escaping from demons and mistakes being made and tragedy... I don't mind fast paced plots or plots with a lot going on but it felt as if there wasn't really a big picture, except a few hints here and there to makes us want to know what do they mean after all....

I feel this book wasn't bad, no. It's more the fact I've read other things in PNR which were brilliant and now having to read other things where the potential is there and the wish things had gone other paths and that didn't happen, makes the read less thrilling. I would have liked this more when it was released I bet and I would probably read the rest of the series but now it's fine if I don't. If this had been super amazing, I would read the next but to be fair, just reading reviews has been good enough.
Grade: 5/10


  1. I really liked this one when it first came out but, I hadn't read much pnr before, so I do think that makes a difference. I got really into the series but my ratings vary. A lot of 2 and 3 stars and then I really liked Blood Hunt. The author took a long break from writing and I kind of forgot about the series but it looks like she started up again in 2018. I'v forgotten so much, though, it will be hard to get back into it.

    1. Hello! Yes, true... I suppose momentum can be important as well, for the enjoyment of a long series. I am aware that some things now just don't have the same impact and although I have some PNR books marked "to read" which have not yet been published, I can't say if they would actually meet any expectation after all this time.
      We get distracted by other things or our taste turns more towards other genres or types of stories, if it's too long between installments, I think there is always some kind of "loss".