A Stella Review: THE KITCHEN BOY by August Li


RATING   4 out of 5 stars

The Kitchen BoyKitchen servant Yoli is one of only three men who know a carefully guarded secret about High Commander Koehen, the brilliant general who united their lands against a common invader. The enemy wants that secret, and they are willing to use either kindness or cruelty to obtain it.

Yoli must decide if his loyalties lie with the commander, who has shown him more affection than anyone in Yoli’s life, or with his own best interests. High Commander Koehen’s attention is capricious at best—he summons Yoli only when it is convenient for him, and Yoli knows there’s little hope of a future together. Is a glimmer of a hope for love worth sacrificing a chance for prosperity beyond his wildest dreams?


I read The Union of Sun and Moon by August Li last year and I was pleasurably surprised by the style of the author. As soon as I saw The Kitchen Boy I wanted to read it. This is a second edition but I missed it earlier. And now that I read it I’m surely going to  devour whatever else they wrote in the past. I like their style so much, it’s hard to explain but I get a sense of peace and sweetness.

The Kitchen Boy is the story of Yoli, who after having been sold by his own father when he was only six years old, works now as a servant in the kitchen of the High Commander Koehen, the man who was able to fight for the union of a great kingdom. The same man suffers of very hurtful migraines that only Yoli seems able to relieve, although their meeting is not just the medical kind. Until the enemies will capture Yoli and torture him to discover the weakness of Koehen.

This was a great story, I was caught from the start and couldn’t put it down till the end. It greatly engaged me with the amazing characters and world building. We get to know quite enough of the world the story is set in, I honestly wasn’t expecting so much in  not so many pages.

The author made me like the characters a lot, even the supposed bad one Brunarious. Of course Yoli was my favorite, a pleasure to see. So strong and brave and generous in his simpleness. He went through so many abuses and hurt in his life. I get to feel his deep emotions, the fear to hope for more, the sense of inadequacy, his loyalty to a man who showed him a glimmer of a future he never hoped to dream for himself. I enjoyed not just his hot time with Koehen, our hero, but his learning scenes with the wizard Vlaad (which maybe needed to be explored a little because there was more to know about the magician and his relationship with the MCs and maybe I was hoping in some menage moments).

I liked this story a lot, well written and developed, great characters, good tempo. All of these made The Kitchen Boy one of my favorite books in the mm fantasy genre.

The COVER ART by Anne Cain is well done and fitting, I can easily see Yoli in it, learning to read. Still I have a note to make, I would have been happier to see a cover made by the author, I like August style, in the writing and in the design I saw around.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon


ebook, 2nd Edition, 126 pages
Published April 6th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published February 2nd 2013)
ISBN 1634771273 (ISBN13: 9781634771276)
Edition LanguageEnglish

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