It is so exciting to read books by somebody I know!
Lish and I attended UNO together, graduating in the same year. We never shared a class, but we did hang out with many of the same people and heard each other read around New Orleans. I always admired Lish's ability to create dark, magical worlds filled with unique, funny characters. I loved her first two books, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, and Necromancing the Stone.
Firebug is the first in a new YA series, with Pyromantic expected sometime in 2017.
Cool cover, right?
Ava is a teenage firebug, who can create fire with her hands. At 13, she was forced into assassin duty for the Coterie, a magical mafia in the Northeast. Ava hates working for the Coterie, especially for her boss Venus, but she must comply or she and everyone she loves will be destroyed in really unpleasantly creative ways.
Working with her best friends Lock, a dryad, and Ezra, a were-fox, makes life bearable. Her guardian Cade tries to keep life as human-normal as possible. To that end, Ava has been dating Ryan, who knows nothing about her magical side. She soon realizes that building a relationship on lies is dangerous--to everyone.
Ava is a fun character, hot-headed (natch), impulsive, funny, and argumentative. At 17, she's trying to control her literally explosive nature and keep her makeshift family safe. Those family members are memorable too, particularly Lock, Ezra, Cade, and grandfatherly golem-builder Duncan, with lots of sarcastic-but-loving interactions. I'd love to see Ava interact as positively with another girl as she does with the guys; many of the female characters are catty and competitive. Here's hoping for more of smart Sylvie, young Olive, and tough Ikka in the next book.
Overall, I loved the variety of unusual magical abilities and clever settings. As the first in a series, this book lays groundwork for the world we're welcomed into and the characters we're learning to love. There's lots of action (and violence) and a satisfying finale that feels complete, yet leaves room for the next book. Can't wait.