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Review: Archive of Fire (Sentinel #1) by Betsy Dornbusch

Review: Archive of Fire (Sentinel #1) by Betsy Dornbusch

by davincikittieMarch 4, 2012

TLDR Recap:

Thinking they have no other choice if they want to find and rescue their missing mother, twin brothers Kaelin and Aiden seek out Sentinel, a secret covert security agency their mother has always been tight lipped and cautious about. Like opening Pandora box, contacting Sentinel changes their lives forever, leading them to do, say, and be things they never imagined, and unveiling frightening new insight into their own history and abilities. Archive of Fire is a GraveTells Recommended Read!

Title: Archive of Fire
Series: Sentinel #1
Author: Betsy Dornbusch
Prominent Characters: Aiden, Kaelin
Recommended Reader Age: 15+
Sexual Content Level: very little, practically none

*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***


Reading Archive of Fire was quick, down, and dirty… in the best possible way; writing this review, however, was not as easy a task. Archive of Fire is not the type of story filled with one-liners to quote or quick, humorous repartee to play off of. It is gripping, compelling, gritty urban fantasy with immaculate character development and a complicated, constantly evolving plot.

Fast, thorough character development seems to be one of this author’s specialties; she doesn’t waste words, and her phrasings and dialogue are extremely expressive with a minimum of fat. I love Ms. Dornbusch’s style; it’s fluid, comfortable, and intuitive. I don’t feel like the dialogue and plot clues are too obvious nor are they impossible to figure out if you really want to. This is a story you need to pay close attention to, notice the details and file them away for future reference. A lot of new terms and references are casually thrown in and it sometimes makes it difficult to keep track of who is on what side and what terms involve which characters.

I’m not normally a fan of urban fantasy… I’m the girl who gave the first Rachel Morgan book a 3.5 and wasn’t overly impressed by Mercy Thompson… but I melted into Archive of Fire and looked forward to reading more even when I was confused by the tangle of characters and secrets. When I finished it, I thought “Wow, ok. That was good. When do I get to read the next book?” What’s even more shocking is that even with almost zero romantic content, I still devoured this book… and we all know how much I love my smut!  Ms. Dornbusch writes under an alias for her erotic stories, which are smoking hot, so I know she’s capable of that kind of heat. The fact that Archive of Fire had none of that yet still felt visceral and compelling to someone who is not generally a fan of traditional urban fantasy is proof that this is an author who won’t be caged into a neat little genre box. Betsy Dornbusch is an author to watch.

If you liked Archive of Fire…

If you enjoyed Archive of Fire you might also enjoy the Sylph series (starting with The Battle Sylph) by L. J. McDonald and the All Souls Trilogy (starting with A Discovery of Witches) by Deborah Harkness.  Both are built around a central couple yet branch out to the adventures of an ensemble cast, and both feature rich world-building and character development for the secondary characters.  The Battle Sylph is a story of rebellion and overcoming the bonds of slavery and I found it extremely compelling, and am looking forward to reading the next books in the series.  A Discovery of Witches is not a book I would have normally read (it was for a book club), but I am so glad I did.  It starts off slow, but weaves a tale rich with scholarly mystery, supernatural creatures, and budding romance.  Along with Ms. Dornbusch’s (writing as Ainsley) Lost Prince, A Discovery of Witches was one of GT’s 5 Books of 2011 You Absolutely Must Read.

Final Thoughts:

Archive of Fire is the first in a series about the demon Asmodai and the twins’ battle against him. It’s a massive web of politics, deceptions, and emotional ties…  gritty, engaging, and addicting, the kind of story where you’re not quite sure where it’s headed, but are eager to see where it takes you next and are sad to see end. Relationships between the characters become more complex and irresistible as the story progresses, drawing the reader into the heart of it all.

While some of the books’ many questions and mysteries are answered, Archive of Fire‘s intense ending still leaves enough intrigue and anticipation to have you eagerly looking forward to the next installment. Readers who love urban fantasy will find themselves quickly sucked into the realm of Sentinel and the myriad of plot entanglements this story so deftly weaves. Even those who don’t normally enjoy urban fantasy will be pulled into this story, wanting a closer look into the bonds that bring all these unique and compelling characters together. Now that the world and characters have been so solidly set up, I cannot wait to see what the next chapter in the Sentinel series has in store for us. Archive of Fire is a recommended read!

Rating: Archive of Fire


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About The Author
Sue "DaVinciKittie" Brown-Moore is a veteran romance blogger and reviewer and the primary voice for Sue has been shamelessly pimping book boyfriends since 2010 and has won several blogging awards with GraveTells. Sue is also a freelance Developmental Editor passionate about helping authors bring out the best in their stories. She loves reading romance, fantasy, and sci-fi and edits any genre she reads for pleasure. You can follow Sue's editing blog, with tips and tricks for authors, at

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