Dance Among the Flames by Tori Eldridge
Running Wild Press (May 24, 2022)
404 pages; $19.99 paperback; $9.49 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms
I love when a novel not only exceeds expectations but expands the limits of what’s expected. Dance Among the Flames is a story that demands a reader’s attention and exquisitely opens the mind to descriptions and concepts not found in books typical of this genre — or genres, as this combines elements of horror, historical, fantasy, and thriller novels into a dangerous, yet delicious concoction. It asks the reader to kick back, put their feet up and bleed their imagination into the fiction.
Tori Eldridge has been a rising star lately with the successful thriller series of Lily Wong, a modern ninja that is anything but typical. Dance Among the Flames is a left turn but Eldridge knows how to immerse the reader in different cultures.
Now, the story and fascinating characters: Serafina emerges from a terrible, abusive relationship in the 1970s and morphs into a mystical, powerful figure who emerges from tragedy into a sort of triumph. She embraces Umbamba, a religion that combines African, Native American and Catholic tenets into something ultra powerful. Through newfound abilities, she both harnesses and is possessed by the strong spirits emanating from Brazilian history and culture. These deities wreak havoc and propel Serafina through the decades until her granddaughter, Adriana, must face the blame from her for the misfortunes of her father, Carlinhos. The trickster Exu spins Serafina into something darker than she expects, the family drama weaving and twisting through vengeance and deceit.
There is so much more to the story, yet Dance Among the Flames is an experience. Eldridge is a master storyteller here, maneuvering readers through three timelines, from the 1500s to the 2000s with an adroit hand. While her previous trilogy was a great introduction to her thriller writing, this entry elevates her to a new level that will enthrall fans of any — or all — of these genres.
This is guaranteed to be one of the most original stories readers will pick up this year, and a propulsive, spirit dance that will leave many reeling.
Highly recommended reading.