Ten years ago, Jack and Bruce barely survived a battle royale between good and evil that left half the city bathed in red and the other half burned to the ground. Over the years, they’ve drifted apart – their lives going separate paths. Jack took a life of peace; Bruce, one of danger. But now Bruce is back looking for Jack’s help. Because what’s about to happen is worse than anything they've seen... and could imagine.
Raymond Rose offered me a chance to review The Fire Inside, and I found myself intrigued enough by the premise to agree to read and review my second self-published novel. What I found was a fast-paced superhero tale that gave homage to such beloved properties as X-Men, Watchmen and Raymond Chandler - stealing wantonly from each, but in a charming manner that shows Rose delights in the source material.
The characters were vivid and lifelike, from Jack King, retired superhero crimefighter, to Fey, talented and cute young girl with recently discovered powers.Their dialogue was well written and Rose introduced their back stories in an effective manner.
What I will say in the negative, however, is that Rose's novel showcases exactly how an editor and proof-reading can benefit a novel. There were a large number of spelling errors, some grammatical problems, skips between past and present tense in the same paragraph and far too many exclamation marks.
I would also say that The Fire Inside was a little too long as well, since there were battle scenes every few pages or so. Although these helped to define the various powers on show by the superheros, they did become quite repetitive and I think I would have preferred a little more character development in favour of too many fights.
Lastly, I found myself metaphorically turning the last page (since it's an ebook, natch!) and not being completely sure about what the Agency was - it could have been a Federal Agency, but it seemed to be superhero-oriented? I wasn't entirely certain, and I think that Rose could have made this clearer.
If this novel had received that extra edit and proof-read, then I do believe Rose is talented enough to make a snappy noir book out of it. As it was, I found myself utterly distracted by the errors. I lost my patience with the fact that it hadn't been checked over better before going into the public domain, and would encourage Rose to use stronger beta readers to help shape his novels in the future. The Fire Inside had promise within the storylines and character, but was unfortunately let down by a weak presentation.