Firecracker By Charles R. Verhey

Love the Cover graphics!
Very Good!! Cass has a gift she can not control, is unpredictable & some people feel she is too dangerous....
Firecracker by author Charles R. Verhey opens with the main character, Aideen Cassidy, (prefers to be called Cass) sitting in a lobby waiting for a job interview. She is desperate for a job and feels this is her last chance, especially since she has applied to this company nine times! She has been fired from her previous jobs and she needs money to pay her rent and buy food. She grew up in a foster home and has no family other than her foster sister, Danielle, who does not always welcome Cass for visits. There is a very good reason for the loss of the jobs and a restrained relationship with Danielle, Cass is very different! Cass is hot....and she has very unusual reddish–orange eyes.

Cass has a gift which she can not control. She is unpredictable and some people feel she is too dangerous. In her past she has been responsible for burning down the Office Supplies, INC, the local ice cream store, the slushy machine at the Quickie Stop, and she blew up a car at the car wash. She does not mean to cause the fires, she is a pyrokenetic! So why would PsychTeam, which hires psychics with different abilities not accept her?

This book is very well written and the storyline does not lack thrilling sequences of action among the different psychic members of PsychTeam. Cass has a wonderful sense of humor even though she faces fears, unemployment, no friends, and has to battle for her life. Also she learns more about the mysterious 88 virus and the results of the Zoe vaccine.

The very tiny and delicate Miyuki is the boss and owner of ShoTec Pharmaceuticals and over the operations of the PsychTeam. Miyuki has severe health problems, she talks in riddles and has secrets which are unknown to the team. The members of PsychTeam are all individually interesting. They each have a unique psychic specialty. The psychic intuitions are helpful and other ‘gifts’ can cause the psychic extreme extrasensory pain.

Read the book to discover how the use of the latest in technology and virtual reality enhances the protection for the team members. Go with Cass as she faces her first task in finding and trying to rescue a small child, believed to be kidnapped from the school playground. Lots of action!
Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy, Young Adult 3.5 Stars

Firecracker is a fantasy story that revolves around a young girl named Aideen Cassidy (aka Cass). She is a pyrokinetic psychic who is a freak amongst freaks. Cass is desperately looking for a job and when she walks into the offices of PsychTeam hoping she will finally get one, she has no idea what she’s getting herself into.

This book was very interesting, I loved the constant reference to Chinese culture and how Verhey used it to make the story all that more interesting. I’m quite used to female authors in this genre and it was interesting to read it from a male’s perspective, especially since the lead character was a female. I think Verhey did a great job of writing Cass, in fact the only hint in the book that it was a man writing was the very detailed references to cars and their inner workings.

I really enjoyed the other characters in the book as well, especially Li. I loved his take on life and the way he handled things. I also liked that he was not taken by Cass from the beginning but rather acted like a real person would and let his past experience dictate his actions. While the whole story is in the third person it does jump to different characters POV and once or twice this got a bit muddled but for the most part worked really well. It allowed you to see things from all the characters perspectives and understand them better.

I must say that I was kept guessing the whole way through the book, at no point did I know what was going to happen or figure out what the ‘secret’ was. Having said that I did find that there were a few unanswered questions at the end and I got to the point where I was ready to find everything out and it still lagged a bit from there. But I still wanted to keep on reading because I really wanted to know how it all ended. Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy, Young Adult Awesome

I loved this book. I would recommend it to everyone. I have never a block this before but it was amt Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy, Young Adult The story of Firecracker follows Cas, a pyrokinetic with a very tenuous control of her powers. She starts her adventure unemployed, running out of money, and praying that her next job interview goes well so she can turn it all around.

Her last hope for a job is with PsychTeam, a group of psychics that consulate with authorities to help find missing people and solve other crimes. When she arrives for her interview she meets Li, a mysterious guy who really doesn't seem to like her. It takes the intervention of Miyuki, who is the head honcho of the team, to get her a job.

The book reveals some interesting psychic powers that the various team members possess as well as having a few story arcs. The main story involves mysterious shadow creatures that seem to be hunting people with the Zoe blood type (the genetic marker for psychic abilities). There is also a small story about the relationship between Li and Cas as well as an arc involving Cas finding a missing girl.

The characters were great in this book and I really enjoyed Cas. It was nice to see someone who had immense power, but had no real control over it. The difficulties Cas had with wage garnishment due to accidental damage and the constant threat of immolating some random object made her a character it was easy to feel for. Li was a bit further out there, but hey I might just have trouble relating to world class martial arts millionaires lol. His tragic past made him a bit easier to come to terms with, he wasn't the perfect example of everything either.

The story flowed pretty well for the most part, although there were a few parts that seemed a little rougher. The book was a very entertaining read that I finished in two days. I imagine there will be more books to follow and I will be waiting for those eagerly.

Overall score of 4.5 stars, worth the rounding up for sure.

Review copy provided by the author. Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy, Young Adult There were some definite problems with this book and it could have used another editing pass, but overall I liked the concept and it definitely has me intrigued as to where the story will go next. I would give this a solid 3.5 stars overall. I'll round up for GR purposes as I am interested in further continuing with the series, that is if the author ever publishes it. The book ends with clear plans to expand and go further, but as of the writing of this review I was unable to find any information on more books from this author.

Aideen Cassidy has struggled all her life to find a place to fit in. She's been raised mostly in foster homes and due to her struggles to control her powers been ostracized by most people and fired from most jobs. She has been sanctioned by the government for the times that her powers have gotten away from her and she's managed to burn down buildings...that really shouldn't have been able to burn, I mean really, should a slushy machine really be able to burn??? Now she's down to the final pennies in her pockets and desperate to find a job. She's applied to PsychTeam in the past, but finally she's gotten an interview. Here's hoping her one last chance pays off.

Agent Li doesn't want a fire starter on the team. He has a lot of bad memories surrounding fire and he's determined to get Cass to quit before she can even get started. Miyuki may want her on the team, but he isn't so sure. He's been a part of this world for a very long time and Li's determined to protect everyone, Cass is sure to become a liability in his mind. Yet, he can't help but find himself liking her and her spunk. She's willing to give things a go even when she knows she's out of her depth.

My problems with this book stem from the fact that the author is trying so hard to make things secretive and keep the audience in the dark about what is really going on that everything becomes convoluted and messy. I was left very unclear as the the ages of most of the characters, even after they had been announced as a certain age, events would occur that would call those ages into question. The story and the characters kept my attention but would often leave me confused by certain little things underneath. I know this is a self-published novel, and it has a lot of potential, I would love to sit down with the author and see them do a second edition of this novel cleaning up and streamlining a lot of the plot points. I see the potential for great things for this series, but the underlying structure feels a little shaky. I wanted clearer rules within the world.

Each of the main characters in this story was interesting, but each of them had unexplained parts that took away from the enjoyment of the whole: relationships weren't clarified, powers were under-explained, histories were left dangling in ways that made it difficult for the reader to get a clear picture. The more I write this review the more I feel like it should be a 3 star review and I think I may modify things and knock this down to 3 star for GR purposes. I still really enjoyed the reading of this book and the psychic powers in this story were really interesting. It was just rough at times and didn't leave me feeling like I knew everything I needed to.

The author has a nice quality to his writing that makes the reading enjoyable. Really most of my complaints come down to feeling like this needs an outside editor/eye to come in and help smooth out the rough edges. The main story is there, the characters are there, it just felt like certain points or explanations got missed because the author knows them so well that he's not realizing that they aren't translating over to the audience the way he might like. Things like the hinted at romance between Cass and Li, while expected aren't as smoothly integrated into the plot as they could be. His past history with women isn't clear and made very murky when it comes to Neda and Tina. I was left very unsure what the author was trying to establish. The world of PsychTeam, their facilities and the like was interesting and well done. I particularly enjoyed Miki and Li's restaurant. I would have loved to know more about how they all fit into the life at PsychTeam.

All in all I'll be curious to see if the writer ever publishes another book. I hope he does, there was a lot to be commended in the story. It's clear the writer has a very strong vision and sees things developing and going somewhere.
Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy, Young Adult


A team of eccentric psychics who assist local authorities with difficult cases has reluctantly hired Aideen Cassidy, a timid pyrokinetic who has managed to accidentally burn to rubble every building she’s ever worked in. “It takes some real power and talent to melt a slushy machine.” Now, after months of scraping by on the last of her savings and spending every day terrified of her own gifts, she’s being given the chance to prove her worth. To be accepted for who and what she is.

But there’s more happening behind the scenes than anyone realizes, and Aideen soon finds herself caught in a conspiracy of evil monsters and dangerous assassins that dates back over six hundred years.

All she wanted to do was fit in. Now the lives of her new friends depend on her talents for fiery destruction... Firecracker

Charles R. Verhey ´ 7 review

So the first thing to say here is: I liked it. A lot. It may not look like it in the rest of this review but I am glad to have finally read this. I found myself reacting all the time to this book and that my friends is rare. And when I say this I mean it in a good way...not when we feel like grabbing the book and throw it out the window or something.

The Good:

I felt a real connection with Li and Cass (in my mind I'm always calling her Cassie, sorry!). Not that I'm either a _______ (whatever Li is) or a pyro like Cass but for some unfathomable reason I liked them both very much. Miyuki is also very interesting but hey she's 600 years old. I'd probably be interesting too in those circumstances.
What I really liked though was the action! It was just so exciting all the time. Loved it!

And Cass is so insecure. I felt sorry for her and couldn't help wonder if all her bubbly exterior was just for show. I don't know. I feel anxious to read more about her and Li. I also connected to Voss. There isn't much to begin with but his presence was somewhat more felt than those of Kevin and Dr. Sheridan for instance. Doc and Kevin appear more but there are so little details about them one simply can't feel them.

The Bad:

I thought this damn book was a stand alone! I grew suspicious by the last 50 or so pages but went along anyway. So yeah. It's not a stand alone and no, there is no next installment as of yet. I hate it when it's like this...I need a warning people! So I can mull this over and prepare myself for the inevitable boring wait. So thanks!

I also understand the whole mystery about, well pretty much everything, but it still pissed me off constantly throughout the book. Hell I was feeling like an idiot and I had way more information than Cass. BUT after hearing the whole story from Miyuki I do think it was a good idea. Point more than taken after Toby's betrayal and death.

The ending was somewhat upsetting. From the author's point of view it made perfect sense. It raps things up with a nice little bow but leaves enough unfinished stuff to make a second installment. I get it. But it truly is a pain in the a** for the readers.

And now I'm gonna go to my little corner berating myself for not checking if there was a second book before reading this one! Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy, Young Adult It was a fun read with quirky and interesting characters. I love that Cass is not the stereotypical Mary Sue or tough girl and she knows this too. It makes her strong in her own way and a very relatable character. There were many mysteries intertwined and can't wait to see what happens in the next book. Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy, Young Adult From: http://readingandwritingurbanfantasy....

3.5 stars

The Good
A Good Direction...
I started this book not knowing really what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find great characterization, an interesting story, and a spunky heroine. I really like the direction this book went because it both satisfied me and raised some questions I hope will be answered in a second book.

On Fire...
Aideen Cassidy, or Cass, has an awesome power that she unfortunately hasn't quite learned to control. That's why she can't find a job. The rumors have spread and people just don't like being set on fire, so they all stay clear of Cass and her pyrokinetic ability. But the head of PsychTeam (a group of psychics who use their powers to help local authorities catch bad guys) has taken an interest in Cass, so they give her a chance. But Cass starts having second thoughts as things go from bad to worse in a matter of days. A little girl has been kidnapped and will die if Cass can't find her in time and an ancient evil has reappeared and is targeting all of Cass's friends. Can Cass learn to control her powers enough to save the ones she cares about?

A Firecracker...
I think Cass was an all-around quirky character. She was uncoordinated and emotionally unstable. She cried at the drop of a hat and embarrassed herself more times than I can count. But I think this mess of a person actually made Firecracker fun to read. She was far from perfect and wore her uncool badge proudly. Her appearance also cracked me up. I could easily imagine her red hair poking out every which way and her freaky red-orange eyes almost always full of tears, and the insistent red flush she adorned when she was embarrassed. I pictured her a bit geeky and awkward, which fit her personality. I liked that she was ruled by her emotions, constantly setting things on fire because of her Ninja fast highs and lows. We meet her when she is at an all time low-point in her life and as the novel went on, she grew in strength, determination, and bravery.

Yin and Yang...
Agent Li was an interesting yin to Cass's yang. He was the cool cat: onfident, gorgeous (and he knows it), and kick-ass. But he does not like Cass, well, not at first. He sees her as a menace to society and PsychTeam and would like nothing better than for her to quit. But he never knew how bull-headed one girl could be. He slowly comes to admire her for she has strength that not many possess, strength that might actually save his life.

The tension and suspense was very well done. I felt all the emotions I was suppose to as the bad guys went after the characters I grew to care about. The climax was very big and satisfying. I was shocked by some of the events, which is always a nice change to the easily predictable plots I have been reading lately.

A Complex World...
I like the world Verhey created, a world I think has some true potential in growing into a great series. The backstory on how these psychics came to be a part of society was especially intriguing. It's a complex world that we only get to see a glimpse of though. I can only hope another book is on the way because I was left with many questions by the end.

The Bad
I found that this book had a lot of lulls in it, times where I could easily put the book down. I was expecting more action.

The description and backstory were way overdone at times. Made it a bit boring. Again, I just wanted to get to the action.

One thing I couldn't stand was the POV shifts. It's something you rarely see in traditionally published books because it's hard to do seamlessly. And by seamlessly, I mean I should not even notice it is happening till after the fact. I noticed the head-hopping right away.

There was a part of the story in which a character asked someone who just betrayed him if they would still be friends when they saw each other again. If you saw what this betrayer did, I think you would agree that you wouldn't be asking if you could still be friends, you would be beating his face off. This character's reaction just irked me and I had to walk away from the book to calm down.

The Snuggly
Not much romance in this book. Cass has a major crush on Li and he kind of plays around with her, but that's it. But this is no YA book either. Expect profanity, which I thought added to the feel of the book very nicely.

By the end, I was very glad I read this book. The characters really drew me in, even if their actions were a little frustrating at times. When the action was present, it was very well written and the slow to come revelations were worth the wait. A recommended read for urban fantasy lovers.

He's really not so bad, once you get to know him. There was something about Neda's sophisticated British accent that was so appealing. She probably could have said I'm going to shit my pants now, and to Cass's ears it would have sounded regal.

He headed to the bar to pour himself a Crown Royal on the rocks. Want one?

No. Actually, yes, but I can't. I'm not allowed to drink.

Personal rule?

Federal rule, by order of the United States Fire Safety Commission.

Any man who could instantaneously trigger her laughter g-spot was someone she wanted to get to know better
Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy, Young Adult You can tell that Mr. Verhey reads comic books. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. You can tell that he puts a bit of himself into the protagonist, and what he wants to be, or qualities he admires, into other characters. That is great, too, and a good writer should do that. This book is a very visual book, meaning the descriptions are of what the characters see and encounter, as well as physical descriptions of the characters themselves, down to the outfits they pick out for their day. It struck me as I was reading that one could take the dialogue and paste it into a graphic novel that matched the description, and have a pretty good story. That's meant as a compliment, as Verhey has managed to take a graphic novel and turn it into print (not literally, but that's what it feels like). Pretty cool.

There is not much character development, just character movement through time. There are no real relationships built (in my mind), just partnerships to battle a common foe. There are some really great sci-fi ideas in there.

Enjoyable as an action/sci-fi/good-v-evil beach read. Nothing deep, but fun enough to read in a sitting. Good job from a new author. Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy, Young Adult Review of Firecracker by Charles R. Verhey
4 stars out of 5

Firecracker is an urban fantasy which centers on the life of Aideen Cassidy. She is a “Zoë Blood”, a psychic born with special talents caused by the cure to the “88 Virus” plague that killed thousands of people around the world. That cure was the Zoë Vaccine. The vaccine has created a few thousand of these psychics.

Aideen has had a tough life. She is a thin, chain-smoking, vermillion eyed, red-headed young woman, and she is extremely volatile in all senses of the word. She is a pyrokinetic, a fire starter, so she can, and frequently does, start fires with her mind. She is ruled by her passions and can go from one emotional extreme to the other. Unfortunately for her, when she loses her temper, she creates fires and the object of her ire often doesn't survive. Her uncontrollable gift (or curse) has dominated her life and prevented her from staying in any one place for too long. After burning down every business she has worked for, she is now a pariah and no one will give her a job – even PsychTeam.

PsychTeam is a group of psychics who aid the police in solving crimes and they don't want her. Aideen, is broke and desperate and badgers PsychTeam until she gets an interview with the handsome and charming Agent Li Hung. He tells her bluntly that they don't want her or need her.

Fortunately for Aideen, Agent Le's decision is overridden by the head of PsychTeam, Miyuki. She is a frail little girl with enormous psychic powers whose failing health keeps her from living a normal life and whose psychic visions torment her constantly. Miyuki tells Agent Li that he must hire her and that they will need her for the battle with the shadows that is to come. Aideen's life turns around from there and becomes filled with excitement, romance and drama.

I don't want to go much further into the story line lest I reveal things best revealed by the author.


Firecracker is a well written book. Mr. Verhey's writing is strong and his characters are believable and likeable. Aideen is especially fun because of her volatile nature ( which earns her the title of Firecracker from Agent Li ) She is ruled by her emotions and can go from exuberant to depressed in a matter of seconds. I enjoyed following her along on her ride. She starts out with critically low self esteem but is strong willed and bull headed. It is this latter trait that gets her where she needs to know. As she starts to understand and find positive uses for her power, she becomes more confident and starts gaining a sense of self-worth.

The world that Mr. Verhey has created is interesting, self-consistent and complex. This book reveals some of that world, but hints that there is much more going on than the characters know, even the enigmatic Miyuki with her glimpses of the future.

The story is also well structured with tension gradually building towards a satisfying and dramatic climax.


For my tastes, Mr. Verhey is a bit too cagey with the information he reveals. Even most of the members of the PsychTeam don't know what is really going on. They are kept in the dark as to the nature of the coming threat. The reader is too. There is a lot of hinting and suggesting and shuddering which builds up readers expectations to the point that the actual reveal of the enemy is a bit of a let-down and the story arc is fairly predictable. That being said, there are other very interesting things you discover about the plague and the nature of the Zoë Blood which keeps your interest.

Overall, I give Firecracker 3.5+ stars. The characters are likeable and complex and the story is engaging, even if some of the tension seems a little artificial. I would recommend it to anyone who likes urban fantasy. Its an enjoyable read and a good start to what seems to be a promising new series by a promising new author.

Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy, Young Adult