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Pacific Fire
By Greg Van Eekhout
Tor, $24.99, 336 pp
Published January, 2015

After the thrilling tour of LA in California Bones, I was a little let down by the sequel, Pacific Fire

Warning, spoilers for California Bones (click here for review) ahead.

After killing the Heirarch and eating his part of his heart, Daniel Blackhand has become the most powerful osteomancer in Southern California. And because he rescued Sam, the late Heirarch’s young golem, he is on the run from the surviving leaders of Los Angeles.

Daniel and Sam have survived for about ten years travelling across the Mojave, never putting down roots, content to leave the magical wars of LA behind them. But Sam is getting restless. A teenager now, he wants to experience the life of a normal teen —learning to drive, dating a girl, that sort of thing. But Daniel knows that the moment they stop, the gangster Otis and his allies will attack and possibly capture and eat Sam. And sadly Sam has not shown any of his “father’s” osteomantic abilities.

It reminds me of Sarah and John Connor’s life in Terminator 2.

The pair are pulled back to Los Angeles when Gabriel Argent, who killed the water mage Mullholland and assumed control over the Department of Water and Power, comes to Daniel and tells him of a conspiracy to revive an ancient dragon and use it to conquer San Francisco. Otis and the other osteomancers in LA want to use Sam in the magical process, which will take place on Catalina Island.

After an assassination attempt on them, Sam and Daniel are separated. While Daniel recuperates in a sanctuary run by golems of Emma from California Bones, Sam is heading to Catalina with a younger Emma.

At this point the book fell apart for me. The Sam/Emma dynamic threw the book back into YA territory, which didn’t really hold my interest. And as the novel split between perspectives of Sam and Daniel I found the action less satisfying. In California Bones, the two POVs were working at cross purposes, here it was just a case of one following behind the other a bit later.

It all came together nicely when everyone reunited on Catalina, however, with plenty of revelations that Sam and Emma are not the only golems around Southern California, and Van Eekhout sets up the finale of Dragon Coast, due in September.

However I missed the sightseeing tour through Los Angeles. Van Eekhout made the city the star of California Bones, but it sadly faded into the background for Pacific Fire. Luckily Dragon Coast sounds like it will involve San Francisco, I can’t wait to see how cannibalistic magicians have warped the City by the Bay. ~~ Michael Senft

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