Author: Tray Ellis
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy
Page Count: 129
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
There is another world existing alongside the one most see everyday, and although it is a place of magic and wonder, the dangers are very real.
Aran, an artist, grew up on his grandmother’s tales of the Side-by-Side world. He never expected his knowledge of folklore would aid his boyfriend, Brandon, in an arson investigation, but the snakes that burst into flames when agitated are something he recalls from those childhood stories.
When Aran vanishes, Brandon knows his time as a state trooper won’t help find him, so he enlists the aid of Aran’s grandmother, Ruth, and they venture into the Side-by-Side world.
But Aran has no memory of his life prior to crossing between worlds, and he’s enjoying the company of his handsome new companion, Ren. Even if Brandon and Ruth reach him, convincing him to return to his former home won’t be easy. In a contemporary fairy-tale adventure set among forests and trails, Aran must choose between a mystical fantasy world and the man he loves.
This is a story with an interesting concept that from a narrative point of view works well and holds the reader’s interest. Every book needs a title but there is an assumption that this title is central to the theme. Whilst pyresnakes are certainly mentioned, do not expect them to be the focus of the story. Without this piece of information there is a tendency to expect them to rear their heads throughout only to be disappointed. Characterisation is reasonably well done and there is an effort to provide backstories to the key players. Similarly, contextualisation and scenery development is provided and this enriches the read. What is problematic though is the style of writing which, written in the 3rd person, uses far too many pronouns. The story does not provide much in the way of tension, although there is the potential for this throughout both in terms of scene development and characterisation. As such it was somewhat disappointing as you expected so much more.
The relationship between the two key characters is one that attempts to provide a deep and abiding love with infinite trust. This is another instance where there is the potential for tension and character development but this is not provided. The love scenes are passionate but not explicit and given the other watered down elements could have meant the book to be re-written for a much younger audience where it would have been a better fit.
The pace of the read is handled well and there is plenty going on to hold the reader’s attention. To a certain extent the pace hinders character development in this story as secondary individuals lack any real depth.
At the end of the novel all loose ends are resolved although the reader is left with a number of questions about what happens next. As such it allows for more books to the series.
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