Title: Puppet/Master (The Vale Chronicles #1)
Author: Joel Abernathy
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: February 7, 2019
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, Vampires, BDSM
Page Count: 319 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Can an assassin who exists only for one man accept his destiny as the treasured possession of four elite warriors?
The world of Teros is full of beautiful, twisted things. Elves who’ve traded their magical birthright for biogenetic enhancements. Shifters who transform into the beasts of legend. Vampires who feed on their human subjects with impunity and enforce their rule with servants honed into deadly creatures of destruction—and seduction. None is rarer than the chimera, a special class of human and a vessel of limitless power for any lover strong enough to tame them.
As the favored “Puppet” of the Master Vampire of Ark, Arden exists to enact his master’s will. When the Brotherhood of Aeon, an elite force from the subterranean realm of the Vale, turns the tables and kidnaps the rare creature, Arden is thrown into the world of the fae, where nothing is as it seems.
The Vale is a realm of old magic and exquisite beauty beyond imagination, ruled by Dusk, the Prince of the Fae. When Dusk strips Arden of his vampire nature and the purpose that has guided him from birth, his only focus is escape. But the Brotherhood insists that he’s more than just a Puppet. To them, he’s a being deserving of love and protection, and he must be guarded at all costs.
Written in the third person from a multi-person perspective, this book was always going to be a read requiring concentration. To compound this situation, just about every one of the central characters comes from a different race of being, each with their own background and culture that the reader has to keep in mind as the story evolves. The world building that ties this together is interesting and revealed steadily throughout. It has to be noted though, that there are instances of cultural description that are a little too Earth-like. There is a single story thread, which makes the complexities easier to manage. The downside is that without enriched character development, it is easy to get mixed up as to who is the current focus, their race and rationale.
The writing style is easy to read and the language simple. With the exception of sexual description, this reads like a young adult story. There is a lot happening with plenty of action, but whilst there are violence and death, these are dealt with quite lightly and resolved without tension. The flow of time is mostly linear, but there are jumps to historical recollections that are often un-flagged and need to be recognised as such.
There are multiple sexual encounters throughout, but most are not developed. However, there are situations where sex is used as part of the storyline and here the descriptions are well described and explicit. Dominance is a central component to this, but despite this being between different alien species, it is all rather human in content.
As noted, there is a lot going on in this book and as such the pace is quite fast. This keeps the reader interested and with a few twists there is a light sense of ‘what happens next?’ The major issue that may impact the reader’s progression is the complexity of the cast and the world in which they inhabit, as this undermines empathy with any of the characters. They all feel lightweight.
There are a number of minor typographic and grammatical errors throughout, but these do not impede the reading of the story.
This is the first book in a series and as such plot threads are set up towards the end of the book that can be picked up in subsequent stories. There is no cliffhanger, as the first book largely sets the scene. Its content has the lightest of plots, which makes the feeder to the next book a little contrived.