Title: Ghost Star Night
Author: Nicole Kimberling
Genre: M/M fantasy Romance
Length: 126 pages
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Jenre
Thomas Myrdin knows that intrigue is part of life at court, but that doesn’t make his king’s betrayal any easier to take. Yet heartbreak troubles him less than the apocalyptic visions that haunt him. Fiery premonitions that show the world burning in ruins—and the cause, the king’s daughter. Visions and vengeance awaken a strange new power within him, but not even he is sure if he is the kingdom’s savior, the king’s pawn.
Lord Adam Wexley harbors a secret longing for the elegant Thomas, but his duty is to protect the newborn princess. When a sudden threat arises, Adam seeks to procure services of Grand Magician Zachary Drake. Even if it means sacrificing his own soul—and his body.
Drake has seen the worst of kings and courtiers. Now he protects himself with powerful sorcery and the adamant refusal to affiliate with any of the Four Courts. But the grand magician isn’t without weaknesses and Adam may be the one enticement that could draw him to ruin.
In a rising storm of magic with the power to strip away men’s souls, the thread of desire connecting three men could be the kingdom’s last lifeline…
This intricate novel is more fantasy than romance with the relationship between the two heroes taking a back seat in favour of elaborate world building and a breathtaking tale of magic and manipulation.
Ghost Star Night begins with three men: Thomas Myrdin is a lord in the court of the king. He has been the king’s favourite bed-mate for a while until recently when the king married. Thomas comes from a wizarding family but has not been able to practice magic since his parents were found guilty of treason and executed. Zach Drake is a wizard who has not affiliated himself with any of the four ‘courts’ of the aristocracy. One day a courtier from the west court, Adam Wexley who is loyal to the queen’s mother, calls on him on behalf of his employer to ask for his help. Zach is attracted to Adam, but Adam is attracted to Thomas, whom he has seen from afar and spoken to briefly. All three men are caught up in events that follow the sighting of the ‘Ghost Star’ which foretells of drastic changes in the life of the city.
There are two distinct yet intertwined parts to this complex book. Firstly there is the world building. The fantasy world created by Nicole Kimberling is a lush, colourful mix taken from different areas of fantasy, all blended together to create a unique world. On the surface the world is similar to that of medieval England. The city is ruled by four ‘courts’ yet under the banner of the King. Each court has its own ruler and colours. However, within this world there is also evidence of the modern world with cars, electricity, clubs and clothing similar to today. Alongside this is the magical aspect of the story where magicians are highly favoured for their ability to extract the souls of people and either place them within an animal, another body or an object. Thus many of the menial tasks are done by the soulless – people whose souls have been removed by wizards and can only function at a basic level, like animals – or by animals such as monkeys or gorillas whose bodies are inhabited by the souls of people. This whole aspect of being able to remove souls was quite chilling and yet the characters have a, sometimes uneasy, acceptance of this part of their world.
Politics also plays an important role in the world building and magic is used to reinforce and dominate within the political structure. For example when the queen’s baby is born, wizards representing all four courts stand guard with a magical shield to prevent any enemies from cursing the baby as it’s born. All wizards have ‘familiars’ which are animals connected to them containing the souls of people owned by the wizard. these familiars act as servants and spies of the wizard. In fact it is the political machinations which causes Zach so much disgust and prevents him from affiliating himself with one of the courts.
The second theme in this book is the odd triangle between Zach, Adam and Thomas. For the first half of the book I wasn’t quite sure which of the three men would end up together until an event, both misguided and horrific, changes the course of their relationship. This had the effect that I felt distanced from all three men and I found that, although I was glad that there was a definite pairing at the end, I didn’t really feel that there was any great depth of feeling between the men, other than sexual interest. This could also have been because I was far more interested in the story and the events leading up the the tense, thrilling climax than I was in the romance. Certainly those of you who need to have lots of sex and close romantic bonding in your m/m novels need to look elsewhere than Ghost Star Night as this book is firmly plot rather than sex based.
There are so many secondary characters in this book and all of them were well written. From the ambitious Lady Langdon; the two senior wizards whose plotting causes no end of suffering; the selfish king and the numerous minor characters; all were necessary to further the plot. Despite this, I never lost track of who each character was and their role within the novel which can sometimes happen with complicated fantasy worlds.
Overall, I found Ghost Star Night to be a fascinating read. I have to admit that I am a great fan of fantasy novels, so this book was ideal for me. I was engrossed from start to finish and applaud the author for creating such a distinctive setting for her novel. I would recommend this book for fantasy fans like myself and for anyone who wants to read an m/m book which is completely different from what is normally found from m/m publishers.