A guest review by Kassa
The story of Kiram Kir-Zaki and Javier Tornesal continues in this exciting sequel, which will be released one month after the publication of Book One.
Lord of the White Hell is a 700 pg epic fantasy story filled with romance, danger, legend, lore, action, clashing religion, and the theme of following your heart. Thankfully this incredible story is broken up into two books so as not to scare readers but book two picks up exactly where book one left off. In fact I even went back and read the last few pages of book one so I’d know where book two was starting. So be sure to read the prior book (which you definitely should anyway!).
Book Two starts with Kiram heading back to school with mixed feelings. He realizes he’s in love with Javier but he’s not going to settle for a relationship with a man that’s secret, hidden, and eventually will be tossed aside for a wife and marriage. Kiram’s culture celebrates two men together and he’s not willing to give that up so he attempts to set aside his feelings for Javier and focus on his machine and schooling. Of course romance isn’t the only issue for these young men as the shadow curse within Fedeles is getting worse and Javier’s white hell may be both the cure and their destruction.
Once again Hale has delivered a fantasy masterpiece that is well written, compelling and so engaging you don’t want it to end. The complex fantasy setting crafted in the first book is continued here but since the majority of the world building has been done, the plot moves on to focus on the search for a cure and the romance between Kiram and Javier. Book Two focuses less on the complicated and intricate fantasy world and instead ramps up the action and adventure aspect. Here Kiram again as the third person narrator is racing to finish his mechanism, confident that it’ll cure Fedeles and free Javier from the family curse. The two young men also give into their attraction and thus there is more romance but no explicit sex.
The overall plot stretching through both books is simply stunning. It’s intricate, complicated, original, and quite absorbing. There are a few (very) minor stumbles where the pace slows or the level of detail gets too minute but really these are almost not worth mentioning. Instead the rich fantasy world depicted and meaty plot will capture your attention and never let it go. The great writing and prose choice helps offer descriptions and complex explanations without ever feeling like being lectured or overwhelmed with information. The skillful weaving of dialogue, action, romance, description, and characters comes to deliver one of the best fantasy stories I’ve read.
The characters are well crafted and incredibly fascinating. Usually reviews will talk about well developed characters and this is true here but one of the best things about this two book story is that each one is really eye catching. Not only are the main characters of Javier and Kiram fun and absorbing to read but when secondary characters drift in and out of scenes, I actually want more of them as well. For example Fedeles is simply wonderful. He’s technically a prop as he’s the vessel for the shadow curse and controlled by someone else but his development is subtle and nuanced so he shines on his own despite this. I actually wished there had been more of him in the second half. Additionally Kiram’s family bursts onto the scene and practically steals the focus while Javier and Kiram’s friends each offer something to draw your eye and engage your interest. This cast is essential to the rich feeling of the story, filled with not only world building but a network of characters with complicated, messy relationships but filled with emotion.
Surprisingly the pages seem to fly by with a good pace and consistent mixture. At 350 pages each (in fact I could have read books one and two back to back) I didn’t want it to end and really couldn’t put it down. The ending is satisfying and full, though slightly too quick. After a considerable build up, the final revelations of the evil villain and resolution seem too short. Perhaps that’s just because I didn’t want the story to ever end and there is a pretty solid ending for everyone involved. The only other minor quibble I have about the ending is that it’s a little too easy for the important players. This isn’t bad per se and I didn’t mind it while reading but when I think about it now I realize the young men got off a little easy, considering everything.
But really the few minor issues I have are just that, minor. Instead I can happily say this is a truly stunning and compelling story that sucks you in from the beginning. Book one is pretty heavy fantasy based and goes into a ton of world building detail – almost too much – that may not always suit fans who don’t love the genre as much as I do. However Book two definitely picks up with more action, romance, true love, miracles, and happy endings. The entire story is the best of the both worlds when put together and delivers a fabulous epic. This is definitely and easily two books I’ll read again and has put Hale on my must buy author list. Her incredible writing is something to experience and I’d put this story up against any “mainstream” fantasy story easily.
If you haven’t ordered this two book story – do so now!