A guest review by Sirius
Summary: This delightful fantasy takes a lot of familiar tropes in this genre and if not twists them on their head, at least gives them a fresh twist.
Thrown out and cursed as a trickster by his own father, Raven finds himself in the hands of a woman with a power he never could have imagined. In a time where the lands have been plagued by drought, sickness, and failing crops, Mistress Chatrina gives him food, work, and a place to sleep. But it is not out of the goodness of her heart.
Now Raven is faced with the mystery concerning his new friend Myche and his master Breyre, for years held captive by Chatrina’s selfishness and greed. They need to escape, and Raven is the only one who can help them return to their people, the shape shifting Eyrders.
But this return is not celebrated by all, and Raven, an Outlander, is not welcome. Breyre’s need to seek revenge on Chatrina for all the hurt she has caused threatens to bring him nothing but hatred, having him exiled… or worse.
Raven has to cope with the impending war, the conflicting plans of the Eyrders themselves, the struggle with his own newfound magic, and his budding relationship with a man who has a troubled past and an uncertain future.
I know I probably mentioned it before, but I have loved fairy tales since I was a child and every time when I think that book in this genre can be a successful mixture of fairy tale or fairy tail-ISH fantasy and gay romance, I want to read it. Additionally, I am usually cautious about self-published books and more often than not will buy them only after a person whose tastes I trust recommends it. This was one such recommendation, and for me turned out to be a very good one.
First of all, I know it is always my concern, so I should mention that to me book felt very well edited.
Granted please take into consideration that as an ESL speaker I may miss some grammatical mistakes, especially if I am very involved with the story, but if the editing is horrible, with a lot of typos and other mistakes, I do usually notice. Here I did not, so it is a safe bet that if there are editing errors, there were not too many, or maybe none or very few.
There were several times in this book where I expected it to go in one familiar direction and it went in a completely different one. At heart this is a story about a boy who has magic, who did not have a very good childhood, who has to come out of age completely on his own and who finds love along the way. In other words I was all ready to name it a “Chosen One” trope. After Harry Potter I call the books about boys with special destinies “the Chosen One.” 🙂 It turns out to not be exactly the case. While Raven gets a chance to fight against evil guys with good ones, he alone does not become a hero for defeating something very huge (I cannot say more without spoilers).
When I saw that the romance coming to be between an older and a younger man (Raven is eighteen, Breyre is approximately in his forties) and Raven seems to be so delicate, I was thinking to myself, “uh oh, Chick with a Dick alert,” only it was again not the case at all. Delicate in appearance or not, Raven is the one who is doing the life saving of his lover — and more than once — and not in a sense that he is just providing the emotional support. I liked and appreciated how the author tried to more or less do an equal balance of power between the guys, no matter what their appearances are.
I also really appreciated how strong the world-building is here and how it was unusual in some ways, even though it started with some pretty regular fantasy clichés. Like for example, we meet the society of shape shifters, only it does not concentrate on one species. Pretty much Breyre’s people can become any animal their inner essence is. To be quite honest, I would have been tempted to recommend this book only because it has squirrel shifter. I have never met squirrel shifter before and this one is so much fun.
“The squirrel squeaked and suddenly leapt to the side, bounded up the table and made a crazy leap to the bookshelf. Raven stared half in amazement, half growing amusement at the crazy antics, wondering how something so small could make so much noise. The animal lunged from the shelf to the bed, then made a quick dash across the floor amid much chatter and loud chirps. The squirrel finally located the leaf and came back with it, presenting it to Raven with its deft little paws”.
Additionally I really liked how hard Raven needs to work — to practice to try to coax his magic to wake up and to learn the profession he wants to learn to fit in among Breyre’s people. He was very appealing, very strong character and I desperately wanted him to succeed on his journey. And of course he is a nice guy who would not let evil triumph if he can help it. That is what eventually leads to him and Breyre meeting each other. I think that Breyre’s character is more static than Raven’s, but he was also a very appealing, likeable man, and I thought their happiness was well deserved. I do not think he undergoes much character development, though, besides recovering from his trauma, realizing he can be a leader again and having a nerve to start courting Raven.
If nothing else, it is a delightful fairy tale with strong world building, good guys vs evil guys, and a charming romance. Do not expect much sex as I think it either has one or two scenes and the book is VERY long.
The book is available from Smashwords