ARC Review: City in Embers (Collectors #1) by Stacey Marie Brown

city in embers I got a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review. 

One thing I’ve learned about Stacey Marie Brown? She never disappoints. I loved her Darkness series and now I’m in love with the Collector series too.

If you’ve read the Darkness series, you’ll know that City in Embers takes place right before and after the Electrical Storm caused at the end of Darkness of Light.

Zoey Daniels has been tossed around from one foster home to the other for most of her life. And she has seen some unimaginable horrors that no girl should. She was used to having no home and no family, but all that changes when she is put in the same foster home as Lexi, a crippled, wheelchair bound girl. Zoey finds a sister and best friend in Lexi. Lexi is what inspires her to turn her life around and make something of herself. Soon after high school, Zoey is recruited by a super secret government agency called Department of Molecular Genetics (DMG).

Zoey is a powerful Seer, a person gifted with the Sight. She can see the true form of the fae, she can see behind the disguise they put for the sake of the humans. She is a collector for DMG. What does it mean you ask! She apprehends fae and takes them back to the lab so that they could be researched, tested, and used to save human lives. She has no sympathy whatsoever for any of the fae. She has been taught that they are monstrous beats and are to be despised. It is here that she meets the love of her life, Daniel. Another reason to become a better person and live a better life.

But when the Electrical Storm hits Seattle, her life is completely tossed around. She lost the only people she cared about. I didn’t much care about Daniel’s death as he wasn’t the guy for Zoey. She was a complex girl with hidden dark tendencies. She only presented to Daniel the kind of woman he wanted to see. He never would have been able to accept Zoey exactly as she is. I was sad about Lexie’s death though. She was a free-spirited, fun girl. Despite her disability, she tried to live her life to the fullest. And for a 12-year-old she really had a dirty mouth on her.

The devastation that hits Seattle, completely turns her life around, as Zoey finds herself joined at the hip with a Wanderer, Ryker and a monkey-sprite, Sprig. With Ryker comes a hoard of other problems. What ensues a hate-hate and then a love-hate relationship between Ryker and Zoey and an uneasy, awkward acquaintance. Now that Zoey is on the other end of the knife, with the hunter becoming the hunted, Zoey has to run from not only the DMG but also from the men out to hurt Ryker.

Zoey was a strong woman. She was dealt too many bad hands, but she came out a survivor through it all. It is hard not to respect her and even admire her. Every time she fell, she got back up and fought back.

Right now, while writing this review and listening to music, it suddenly hit me that these few lines from Katy Perry’s Roar explains who and what Zoey is perfectly.:

You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, you hear that sound
Like thunder gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion

Another favourite character was Sprig, the monkey-sprite. He was just so adorable. He provided the much-needed respite from all the sadness and heavy-duty stuff going on in the book. I think he was also the reason why Zoey and Ryker didn’t kill each other. Sprig and his love for honey was just plain adorable. And for some unexplainable reason he knew a lot about blue balls. Makes you wonder. Huhh!

Ryker. What should I say about Ryker? Well he certainly was a big pain in the behind, but he grows on you. He treated Zoey like dirt calling her human, as if that was an insult. To him it was. But that’s okay. Soon he gets his head out of his lovely tush, at least halfway out. Once you find out more about his past who understand why he is the way he is. Ryker, like Zoey, is a complex character and Stacey has a knack for writing complex characters. Her characters are never easy. They are never black and white. They are always, always complex and with shades of grey. And why shouldn’t they be, real life can be a bitch and people are not always about rainbows and unicorns. She has proved this point all through City in Embers. The dichotomy of life is there for you to see. The ugly truth is staring you in the face and you can’t walk away from it. In fact, in this book you see more of the ugly side of life than the pretty one.

The action, the buildup, the emotions, the characters. Nothing about this book was a disappointment or predictable. At no point in the book could I guess the turn of events. Stacey reels you in through her masterful storytelling. Her world building is perfect. She doesn’t dump info on you and neither does she give you too little. With her kind of writing, it’s hard to keep the book down. In fact as soon as I finished it, I wanted the second book right then. If you haven’t read it, go read it. You won’t be disappointed.

4.5 stars