The Calling

Title: The Calling
Author: M.D. Neu
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: January 1, 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary, Paranormal
Page Count: 366 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

Being a nobody isn’t Duncan Alexander’s life goal, but it’s worked for him. He has a nondescript job, a few good friends, and overall he’s content. That’s until one fateful trip to San Jose, California, where he is “Called” to meet the mysterious Juliet de Exter. Juliet is a beautiful, wealthy, powerful Immortal who is undertaking The Calling—a search for a human to join her world of Immortals. Inexplicably, Duncan’s calling is more dangerous than any of the Immortals, even Juliet, ever thought it would be.

There is more to this nobody, this only child of long-deceased parents, than anyone thought. When Duncan experiences uncontrollable dreams of people he doesn’t know and places he hasn’t been, Juliet and the other Immortals worry. Soon, his visions point to a coven of long-dead witches. The dreams also lead Duncan to his one true love. How will Duncan navigate a forbidden romance with an outcast Immortal? How will he and the others keep the balance between the Light and Dark, survive vicious attacks, and keep the humans from learning who they truly are? More importantly, who is this implacable foe Duncan keeps seeing in his dreams?

The story at the heart of the book is relatively straightforward, however the author provides rich and detailed progression throughout. This gives some credibility to the story and the reader is drawn along with little difficulty. That does not mean however that the writing is exemplary. The use of English is satisfactory but is flawed on occasion, which can be a distraction. Sadly, the major problem with the book is in characterisation. Each of the characters, primary and secondary are sketched quite thoroughly with backstories that are developed throughout. However, the central characters lack emotional depth. Histories are explained and reasons for thoughts and actions described but everything seems to be at a distance even though it is written in the first person. Ultimately there is nothing to like or dislike about the hero or those around him because the writing lacks anything with which to empathise. Having said that, the story and the writing style keep the reader involved in the plot and it was an easy read without significant tension.

As for the interaction between characters, there seems to be some richness and dynamic that allows relationships to grow. The lead character takes the moral high ground on occasion, but generally goes with the flow. The reader only finds out he is gay through mischance. It seems that this side of his character is not important to him, so it is not important to the reader. Consequently, when there is ultimately some sexual feeling it is once again dealt with somewhat dispassionately, even the sex seems distanced.

What saves the book is the story. This is interesting and well developed. The pace is steady and provides time for the reader to assimilate facts as they are provided. As noted, there is only limited tension, with those scenes similarly being described rather than experienced.

By the end of the book the reader is satisfied that where plotlines need to be resolved they have been, However, this is clearly the first in a series as there are a number of themes that are left in a state that requires further actions from the central characters. Given the above, would I read another book? Actually yes, as the story is interesting and holds the attention. There will always be frustration that the characters are hollow, but one can only hope that the author can fill in the gaps and give the reader something to like or hate.

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Galley copy of The Calling provided by NineStar Press in exchange of an honest review.

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