Emma Holly really can write! In a crowded genre, that of fantasy/paranormal/erotica, her writing is way ahead of most other authors. She is particularly good at creating believable, engaging characters who grow and change in a way that the reader finds convincing. Her fantasy worlds have congruence and, although different
from our world, show that people have the same problems and flaws and emotions.
The world of Demon's Fire is her Yamish world, previously featured in the books The Demon's Daughter and Prince of Ice, as well as in the short story 'Queen Of All She Surveys' in the anthology Beyond The Dark. Demon's Fire focuses on two characters who appeared in The Demon's Daughter
- Charles, the adopted son of Roxanne and Adrian Philips, and Beth, Adrian's younger sister
- although ten years have passed since the end of the first story. The third major character in this story is Prince Pahndir, who appeared in Prince of Ice and was rescued by Xishi and Corum from his years of sexual slavery in the school for concubines. Pahndir was a very interesting character in that story, apparently rather weak and emasculated following the suicide of his wife but with hints that there was more to him than a shell of a man.
In this story, Pahndir comes out of that shell and begins to live again. He's had several years of freedom and is running an effective high-class brothel in the desert city of Bhamjran. When he bumps into Beth and Charles, who are working with Lord Herrington at an archaeological dig, he finds himself drawn to both of them. Both Beth and Charles also find Pahndir intriguing, but for different reasons. Beth is more able to cope with her interest; Charles is afraid of some of the feelings that he has, especially as he also has feelings for Beth. When Pahndir decides to try to seduce both of them, he unwittingly draws them into an attempt on his life, and he may have to end up relying on them to rescue him from a return to slavery.
Is it possible for the three of them to recover from past wounds and make a future together?
Although this story works well on its own, readers would benefit from reading the previous two novels in the series to understand the underlying Yamish world. It's also good to learn more about some characters, such as Lord Herrington, and to reconnect with characters from previous books. Emma Holly's skill in this book
lies in creating a happy ending for the three central characters (even if in a rather unusual manner) and showing the way that they grow throughout the book. The eroticism in her writing is to the fore in this book, much more so than The Demon's Daughter, and it might be too much for some readers, but her skill in storytelling makes this a very worthwhile read.