Dana reviews Bonfire (Hours of the Night Book 1.5) by Irene Preston and Liv Rancourt (Published by Prescourt Books, November 15, 2016, 122 pages) Giveaway below.
Why I read this: I reviewed Vespers (Hours of the Night Book 1) in October and really enjoyed it. I definitely wanted more of Sara and Thaddeus so I picked it up right away. Since the novella takes place during the holidays and the season is upon us, I thought I’d share my thoughts in a review. To read my review of Vespers, click here.
Silent night, holy hell.
Thaddeus and Sarasija are spending the holidays on the bayou, and while the vampire’s idea of Christmas cheer doesn’t quite match his assistant’s, they’re working on a compromise. Before they can get the tree trimmed, they’re interrupted by the appearance of the feu follet. The ghostly lights appear in the swamp at random and lead even the locals astray.
When the townsfolk link the phenomenon to the return of their most reclusive neighbor, suspicion falls on Thaddeus. These lights aren’t bringing glad tidings, and if Thad and Sara can’t find their source, the feu follet might herald a holiday tragedy for the whole town.
��This holiday novella can be enjoyed alone or as part of the Hours of the Night Series.
“Yahoos down from the city,” Chase muttered.
Everyone turned to stare at him.
“What? You know how it is. Rich assholes come down here in the summer with their Jet Skis and party barges, acting like this is their playground. Shit all over the place and then leave us to clean it up. Have to yank half of them out of the river before they drown, and the other half always up to some other kind of mischief. Probably did something to make the lights, too.”
“All right, Chase.” Bren sounded resigned. “We know how you feel. But how on earth could they cause anything like this?”
Jeremiah shook his head. “No.” He stroked his beard. “I do a lot of night fishing, frogging, that kind of thing. I’ve seen plenty of weird stuff down in the spillway and out in the bayous. I’ve taken out plenty of tourists on trips, too. Got to admit, some of them don’t have the sense they was born with, but I can’t think of anything they would do to cause the feu follet to appear.”
“That’s it,” Sara said. “Bren, your grandmother called them that. What’s a foofolay?”
“Feu follet,” Bren said. “It’s just a Cajun word for swamp gas. It doesn’t hurt anyone.”
“Not swamp gas, cher,” Jeremiah disagreed. “I’ve seen lights out in the trees before, but none ever made me wander off like that. Your gran ever tell you the legends of the feu follet?”
“Boogeyman stuff,” Bren scoffed. “Stories to scare the kids so they don’t wander too far from home. Ooooh, don’t follow the feu follet, you’ll never be seen again.”
“Uh, Bren?” Sara interrupted.
“What?” She rolled her eyes. “It’s just a legend, like Bigfoot.”
“Bren, we just saw it.” Sara argued. “You were facing the other way when it appeared. Why do you think I told you not to turn around when you were hauling Chase back to the boat?”
“Didn’t feel like a legend to me.” At least Jeremiah wasn’t going to deny what had happened. “And how many locals have we had now that suddenly found themselves lost? A couple of ’em I could write off as drunk or making up some story for why they were late home to their wives, but James Hutson… He’s been a teetotaler his whole life, and he could find his way around out here blindfolded.”
“I have never known anyone who saw an actual feu follet,” Thad said. “But I felt the compulsion also. Perhaps we should consider the possibility that the stories had some basis in fact.”
“I can’t believe you big tough guys are seriously considering the boogeyman is out there. I’m sure y’all saw something, but there has to be a logical explanation.”
“Okay,” Sara said, “humor me, Bren. Tell me the legend.”
“Not just one legend,” Jeremiah said. “There are tons of them. The feu follet are guarding a treasure. The feu follet appear when there’s been a murder.”
“They’re the soul of a child who died before being baptized,” Thad added. “Although I do not think the Good Lord would consign a child to such torment.”
Jeremiah nodded. “Hadn’t heard that one. Can’t say I like it either. My mom’s cousin over in Grosse Tete used to talk about them like vampires. Ghosts that sucked blood.”
“Why would they suddenly appear, though?” Sara asked. “I mean, this is something new, right? What do the legends have in common?”
Thad and Jeremiah exchanged a troubled glance. Sara could tell they both had the same thought.
“Murder and treasure,” Jeremiah said. “There are a lot of legends, but the most common ones involve murder or treasure or both. Sometimes it was murder over money. Sometimes the spirit was bound to the treasure to protect it. Murder and treasure.”
I really enjoyed this novella and was glad to read about Sara and Thaddeus again even though it hasn’t been a long wait for me. Both characters are more complex than they look on the outside. Sara was raised with parents who were Athiest and Hindu, but he is a Christmas fanatic. The holiday has always been more about being American to his family and his parents who were immigrants. Celebrating the holidays were important to them though. This year his father isn’t alive and Sara is far from home working for Thaddeus. Thaddeus is reclusive and mysterious. He is a gay vampire who is also a devout Catholic. Before Sara came to work for him he lived his life like a monk, including saying all the prayers of the day. He sleeps in the day and at night doesn’t interact with any of his neighbors, so it is no wonder when some of the townspeople accuse him of creating the feu follet (mysterious lights) that are making people wander around the swamp and getting lost.
Thaddeus has broken out of his shell for Sara a lot already, but in this book, Sara is pushing for more. He wants Thaddeus to become more social, He doesn’t want people coming with pitchforks and suspicions of who and what Thaddeus is. Though the relationship between the two men seems like it plays second fiddle to finding out the real origin of the ghost lights and a missing girl, there are some sweet moments between them. Sara would also really like Thaddeus to stop feeling guilty over being with him intimately. I definitely can’t wait for more of these two to see if Sara is successful with his plans for Thaddeus.
The blurb says that this book can be read as a stand-alone and I suppose it can, but I strongly recommend reading book one in order to understand the dynamics of Sara and Thaddeus’s relationship. I enjoyed this story a lot, and I felt like the content was pretty good for a novella sized story. The two do get to the bottom of the mystery, and happily, no one comes to any real harm because of it. The progress that is made by the end of the book definitely made me happy for now. I definitely recommend this book and the series.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
About Irene Preston
Irene Preston has to write romances, after all she is living one. As a starving college student, she met her dream man who whisked her away on a romantic honeymoon across Europe. Today they live in the beautiful hill country outside of Austin, Texas where Dream Man is still working hard to make sure she never has to take off her rose-colored glasses.
Where to find Irene
About Liv Rancourt
I write romance: m/f, m/m, and v/h, where the h is for human and the v is for vampire … or sometimes demon … I lean more towards funny than angst. When I’m not writing I take care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether I’m at home or at work. My husband is a soul of patience, my dog’s cuteness is legendary, and we share the homestead with three ferrets. Who steal things. Because they’re brats.
Where to find Liv