Black Fire by James Kidman

(No Series)
Published May 2004

What color is the fire of your soul? It's been seven years since the life shattering event that Eddie Farris thinks of as The Showdown, the night he killed his father in self-defense. Seven years since his world was almost completely destroyed. Seven years of trying to put his life back together and trying to put the past behind him. But sometimes the past doesn't want to stay dead. And sometimes the dead come back to haunt you... In Eddie Farris's case, the dead are coming back with a vengeance. Who is the strange, mysterious figure who seems to be following Eddie, taunting him, threatening him? He can't be the person Eddie thinks he is. That man's been dead for seven years. Ever since the night of The Showdown, when Eddie killed him... Nothing in Eddie's world is quite what it seems to be, and he will soon discover that you never really escape your destiny; it burns within the fire of your soul...

James Kidman's first novel (written as the pseudonym for author Brian Freeman) is a dark, disturbing offering utilizing three methods to get the story across. The reader is treated with the past history of the character, the present, and journal tidbits. This manner leads to a convoluted, confusing tale that kept my mind dancing along the edges of sanity as I followed in the footsteps of the main character's trials.

While the tale is exciting, foreboding, and filled with dark memories of the past, certain things weighed it down, including slower paced introductory chapters, a little too much muddled leading, and not much on the side of scares.

The protagonist, Eddie, is a well written character with a hellacious life. I felt for him the whole time, and enjoyed being in his head - his personality held chemistry with mine. There weren't that many other characters involved, but the ones that were did their job. The book is a very solitary tale, told in a first person point of view, a form not used as often these days. I, however, love it when this POV is used as long as it's done well. I felt a stronger bond with Eddie because of it, and the atmosphere came across as confusing (in a good way!), dramatic, and creepy.

The ending of Black Fire stunned me; that alone made it worth the read. Although it's not flawless, it is a terrific debut, strong in plot and characterization, but a bit weak in pace.

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