In the trenches of Europe during the Great War, Tomas Cordero operated a weapon more devastating than any gun: a flame projector that doused the enemy in liquid fire. Having left the battlefield a shattered man, he comes home to find yet more tragedy for in his absence, his wife has died of the flu. Haunted by memories of the woman he loved and the atrocities he perpetrated, Tomas dreams of fire and finds himself setting match to flame when awake….
Alice Dartle is a talented clairvoyant living among others who share her gifts in the community of Cassadaga, Florida. She too dreams of fire, knowing her nightmares are connected to the shell-shocked war veteran and widower. And she believes she can bring peace to him and his wife s spirit.
But the inferno that threatens to consume Tomas and Alice was set ablaze centuries ago by someone whose hatred transcended death itself….
Worldbuilding: The ’20s Florida setting was interesting to experience through our two main characters. It was a world full of wonder and hope via Alice’s eyes, and a somewhat desolate, hopeless one via Tomas’s. I liked the contrast.
Characters: Both Alice and Tomas were interesting characters. It was a nice parallel, with young Alice going on an adventure in order to live more independently and use her gifts as she desired; and Tomas, a man with a lot of heavy personal history, living a sad and lonely life, seeing everything through the lenses of loss. I personally enjoyed Alice a lot more, because I kind of tend to have issues with PTSD stories, more so when they’re war-related. I hoped it would be less focused on in Tomas’s POV, but it was very present, and it just makes me get emotionally detached by reflex. So while I enjoyed Tomas as concept, I sort of got to not be able to stand being in his story. 🙁
Plot: The two stories that entwined were interesting, though somewhat slow for my personal liking. While I enjoyed that in Alice’s side of the story, because I enjoyed spending time with her – when it came to Tomas the tempo felt always wrong. I’m aware it wasn’t a difference in the actual tempo, but in my perception of it as a result of my reaction to the characters. Be that as it way, it still felt slow, regardless of the reason.
Writing: First person, past tense narrative, dual POV. While I really enjoyed the style, I don’t seem to enjoy POV switches lately – even less so in 1st person. I liked each of the character’s voices, but switching between them just served to annoy me, somehow.
Curb Appeal: Cool cover, hooking blurb – impulsive buy material for my historical paranormal craving.
This was my second Cherie Priest read, and while it went better than the first (that was MG, and I don’t really go with that flow), I still didn’t enjoy the ride as much as I was sure I would. It’s really weird, because I like the writing, the story ideas, and character concepts, and yet all in all I didn’t enjoy the ride as much as I thought I would. I was sure it was an issue with the head-space I was in, but I read another right after and had a lot of fun with that, so it wasn’t my head-space as much as a matter of chemistry.
I recommend Brimstone to ’20s Florida (or not) enthusiasts who embrace paranormal elements in their historical reading, to fans of psychics and those of recovering-from-trauma stories too. It’s well-written, has interesting characters, and an entertaining story. It didn’t really work out between us, but I’m sure it can and will work like a charm for many others 🙂
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