20150921 The Crow Bar

Review of “Smoking Hot: (The Diary of a Fire Demon)” by “The Crow Bar” (author Christina Engela) on September 21, 2015:

Smoking Hot by Amy Mah – reviewed by author Christina Engela

I recently read “Smoking Hot“, an exciting novel from Amy Mah. Her name is well known throughout the Vampyre Community (as well as in various others) and for different reasons. Although she is loved by many from various different walks of life, I believe she is generally misunderstood by most – especially by those who criticize her, typically for her interaction in the Vampyre Community.

This may be just my own opinion, but I believe she is under-appreciated, and needlessly maligned, generally operating on a level so different from most people that they find her difficult to interpret and understand.

What makes no sense to me is the criticism leveled at her from within these communities for her stories of all things – which in my humble opinion, are multi-layered, alternately complex and beautifully simple – scintillating and brilliant!

They are after all fiction, and fiction does not have to portray fictional elements (such as demons or vampires) as they are perceived to be by others. It therefore doesn’t make any sense to me, for any group of people wanting to tar and feather a writer because they themselves cannot clearly distinguish fiction from fact, and promotional exercises from a real self-identification within such communities where transhuman identity dominates. All that aside, here follows my own review of her novel “Smoking Hot: The Diary of a Fire Demon” by Amy Mah, 2014, Reardon Publishing ISBN 187419293-6. .

The is the blurb on the back cover of the book:

“Swapping bodies with a young female demon had not been part of the planned vacation. Nor was having to attend a demonic high school for the magically gifted. When the most magical thing you could do was set your own underwear on fire. Life was not going to be easy, even less so with a painful tail that everyone trod on. Owning a magic sword that always tried to look up your skirt when fighting was not helpful. But then nor was having a telepathic diary that corrected your thinking instead of your spelling.”

This is a work of fiction which is aimed at the adult and young adult market. It is in my view, 100% pure unadulterated entertainment – and I enjoyed every single moment of it! It took me a little over a day to read it, and I struggled to put it down. When I eventually ran out of pages at the end of the story, I was left with a mix of emotions: I felt joy at the story and how it worked out, but I also felt saddened that the story had run its course. Fortunately I noticed that the ending left plenty of room for a sequel (which I believe Amy is working on) – and over all, I was left feeling very satisfied indeed!

“Smoking Hot” is 201 pages long, and tells the intriguing (and most entertaining) tale of Alyce – a bored but sensible twenty-something British girl who had found a magic mirror a few years before the timing of the story, and while cleaning it, discovered another girl looking back at her from the other side. Except that the girl on the other side is a little different to ordinary humans – in fact, she turns out to be anything but human. (For one thing, she has cute little horns on her forehead.) She is from another world or dimension or reality, and after two years of occasional chats through the mirror/portal, has made Alyce an intriguing offer – to swap bodies for a short time so that both of them could experience a sort of vacation in each others worlds!

Naturally Alyce accepts this invitation, which is where the story begins – and upon arriving ass-over-tail (in more ways than one) in her inter-dimensional friend’s world via the magic mirror, discovers that she has been cruelly tricked – and that this little ‘vacation’ is of a far more permanent nature. Right at the outset, she has other more pressing problems – because her new body, although very attractive, is quite different and needs some getting used to. Aside from the minor concern of having no recognizable genitalia to speak of, she finds herself being hastily packed up by two sisters she has never met, given a scathing sand bath, and is sent off post-haste to an Academy to be trained for a war she has never heard of. Oh, and on top of everything else, she has to get used to having a tail which everybody else seems to tread on.

I enjoyed how Amy describes the Demon’s Academy. I loved the way the demon girl conned Alyce – and how Amy conveys this via the talking magical journal – this was very cleverly (should I say ‘fiendishly’?) done. There are so many different creatures and aspects to the new world as described in vivid detail by the writer! The way Alyce interacts with characters is very level-headed and entertaining, especially her approach of ‘nutting’ people who get in her way!

This all transpires in a very humerous fashion. I spent a lot of time laughing while reading the book. I also found her descriptions of scenes and surroundings to be very clear and easy to grasp. I felt the emotions in everything. It’s a little unusual in that I think the only male figures I saw in the story were the one Alyce first nutted and the one who gave her the blade. I loved the tongue in cheek references to ‘windows’ with the visual panels the Lights and Minds created. The description of the last big battle was really funny, and the build-up of tension along with little inserts of humor – perfect!

The story was also sufficiently deep and complex at the same time – I found the complex connection between Alyce and Pink easy to grasp the way Amy explained it, and I kept finding myself going ‘awwww‘ at the two of them – I think they are more than just friends and even though Alyce seems to disapprove of the notion, I think she will acknowledge deeper feelings for Pink over time. At least, I hope she will – and it would be nice to see them form a romantic bond.

Amy has other novels as well, although at this stage this is the only one in this setting with these characters. I can’t wait for the sequel to “Smoking Hot”!

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