Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Review: Dark Flame Rising by J.A. Pederson

Dark Flame Rising book cover
Image from J.A. Pedersen; used by permission

Title: Dark Flame Rising (The Keegan Crowe Chronicles #1)

Author: JA Pederson

Genre: Urban Fantasy

When Keegan Crowe’s grandmother drags her to Turtle Springs, the desert town she swore never to return to, Keegan hopes to discover something about the parents she never knew. But the fourteen-year-old hacker discovers unbelievable claims – secret societies, mythical creatures, and black-magic baddies. Everyone pressures Keegan to believe, but she’s not buying this crackpot story. She undertakes a quest to both avenge her parents and challenge their outlandish claims. But the ancient elements are at war, and time grows short. To save the world, a legendary treasure must be found – and Keegan holds the key.

I thought Dark Flame Rising‘s orphan-with-magical-heritage and evil magic users premise was a little uncreative, but it had a cool title and I liked the cover. And a magic-based fantasy with a computer hacker? Keegan’s computer skills sealed the deal.

I liked Keegan for the most part. She was smart and stubborn and didn’t always think things all the way through. And for a fantastic hacker, she didn’t spend as much time on the computer as I would have thought. Sometimes she got too stubborn or made a bad decision, but overall, I enjoyed her.

Cody, Keegan’s maybe-more-than-friend from town, unfortunately fell flat for me. Keegan had a crush on him, but besides the fact that he was cute and nice, I didn’t know much about him.

Chitra, one of Keegan’s friends from the school, was good. She was quiet and sweet, but she could stand up for herself, too. In this book, she was just following Keegan along most of the time, but I hope she gets to lead her own adventure in book two.

Ford was another one of Keegan’s friends from the school, and I hope he plays a bigger part in book two. He had very little page time in Dark Flame Rising, but I think I’ll really like him once I get to know him.

I was delighted to find myself surprised at some of the plot twists. It starts off a little unremarkable – strange people, strange place, nobody will tell Keegan anything so Keegan looks for answers on her own. Then once she gets most of the answers (which is easier than I would have expected), it becomes a stay-ahead-of-the-bad-guys thing, with Keegan’s stubbornness kicking in as she tries to help even though the adults forbid her to. I very much enjoyed it, and I’m now extremely curious to how the rest of the series will play out.

I did have a slight problem with the magic system – but it was me and not the book. Sometimes even the “good magic” seemed a lot like witchcraft, which bothered me. But most of the time it was fun and interesting.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It wasn’t knock-my-socks-off fabulous, but I’d be happy to read book two.

I received a free review copy of Dark Flame Rising from the author. His generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

The Chronicles of Keegan Crowe:

  1. Dark Flame Rising

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