SHE DREAMS OF FIRE is probably my all time favorite novel from M.K. Gibson and that's impressive since I absolutely loved VILLAINS RULE and the TECHNOMANCER series. I think my reasons for liking it are due to the fact it takes place in the modern world and manages to do a Dresden Files-esque world of fairies, magic, and demons. Indeed, M.K. Gibson's writing style is naturally similar to Jim Butcher's so it is really hitting the sweet spot as I wait for the release of PEACE TALKS or BRIEF CASES.
The premise is Agatha "Aggy" Grae is a ten year old girl when her mother is murdered in an arson attack by a coven of witches. Witches in this world are portrayed remarkably unsympathetically (as the use of real-life hate book in the series title indicates), being a bunch of sociopaths who misuse their magic to manipulate or destroy the lives of those around them. It is a portrayal mitigated only by the fact Aggy, herself, is a witch.
Thanks to the help of a traumatized EMT and veteran, Marcus, Aggy manages to survive the fire which killed her mother and discovers the ability to steal the abilities of fairies by injecting herself with their blood. With the help of Marcus, who turns out to be more like Dexter than your typical EMT, and a talking carnivorous rabbit--she sets out on a quest to get revenge on her tormentors.
The characters and dialogue are the real draw of this book versus the fairly bog standard revenge plot. Aggy and Marcus are both deep characters with great contrast between one another. Aggy is a dedicated survivor and street kid while Marcus is an educated doctor who feels compelled to murder people but tries to restrict it to the truly guilty. Plus, they have a psychotic talking rabbit. You'd think that would bring the group down but it only makes it more awesome.
An adventure is only as good as it's villain and M.K. Gibson has his absolute best in Lady Vanessa. She's a sociopathic witch who doesn't hesitate to use people's families against them, murder children, or lie to her partner in the police in the most outrageous of ways. Vanessa is an intelligent villain and actually manages to stay one step ahead of our heroes in believable ways, so that's just good writing even if you want her outright dead by the end.
This is technically set in the same world as the Technomancer series but this is pre-apocalypse versus post-apocalypse. A couple of characters survive from this story to go on to become ones in the next one centuries later but I suspect these are more Easter Eggs than serious tie-ins. I'd like to think Aggy will eventually be able to live a normal life.
If I have any complaints about the book, it's the fact it's written a bit broadly and could have done with some more seriousness. However, as I write humorous urban fantasy myself, I can understand why the author chose to write it this way.