Book review: Black Heat

Black Heat

Bex Hogan


Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

A friend and I once joked that we would start a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Fictional Characters after I was getting particularly worked up about the maltreatment of my favourite character in a popular book series.

After reading this book, I feel the time is nigh to start the society, so as the president of SPoCtFC, I hereby say to Bex Hogan; go sit in that naughty corner and don’t come out until you have thought about what you’ve done.

Black Heat is a standalone feminist revenge fantasy about kingdoms at war. It is also billed as a children’s book but I personally feel the themes are too dark for children or young teens.

The story is interesting, if a little gruesome, and the writing is good. The characters are endearing, even the anti-heroes, but the ending is what ruined the book for me.

The story is told from the viewpoint of three heroines, an exiled princess returning to the palace, an apprentice midwife who gets unexpectedly displaced from her home and a disgraced noblewoman hiding as a blacksmith in the army.

I was initially engrossed as Princess Marzal and blacksmith Rayn are both thrust into plots for revenge against a tyrannical emperor, while midwife Elena is caught in the middle.

It was beautiful to behold how Marzal artfully plotted her rise in a viperous court and Rayn spied, fought, schemed, and fell in love on the battlefield.

The plans all start coming together as their stories overlap and then – splat – the roller-coaster falls off the rails at the most exciting turn.

When reading fiction, I don’t ask for much. If a book bills itself as fantasy then, please, give me the fantasy. Let me see the long-suffering, hard-working, ass-kicking heroine, riding off into the sunset with her love interest. Is that really too much to ask?

If you like happy endings, don’t read this book. If you like your heroes to get their dues, don’t read this book. If you like your plot twists to be surprising but satisfying, don’t read this book.