Rating: 5 stars out of 5
If Sūnder Alārd had been born female he would have been cherished for being faeborn—born with magick—and his birth celebrated. Instead, his L’fÿn mother insisted on his death. Only his Panthrÿn father’s desperate escape through the forest saved him. With most Chándariāns uneasy in his presence due to rumors he is doomed to become a darksoul, and unlikely to find a mate because of it, Sunder has nevertheless carved out an honorable existence as a warrior and commander. Serving as bodyguard and chaperone for the Chándariān prince, Sūnder accompanies his charge to the annual mating festival on Earth, and when the prince is injured, he can’t help but be fascinated by the tongue-tied nurse who attends them at the hospital.
At sixteen years of age, Gabriel St. Baptista came home to discover his parents had taken off into space, leaving him behind to look after himself. Gabe never recovered from the unexpected desertion, and keeps everyone at arm’s length to avoid being abandoned again. However, after meeting Sūnder, Gabe finds himself unable to resist the bond between them and breaks all of his carefully crafted rules to spend time with the Chándariān, regardless of the fact that Sūnder will soon leave. Scared by what he feels for Sūnder, Gabe can only hope his heart won’t be too broken when Sūnder returns to Chándaria.
But deceit and treachery is all around them, and when Gabe saves Sūnder’s life, it sets off a chain of events that could either tear Gabe and Sūnder apart or give them both exactly what they want.
I’m totally captivated by the fantasy world and characters of Sūnder (Darksoul #1) by Lexi Ander. Finishing at wee morning hours, I lay there lost in the relationship of Gabe and Sūnder, the amazing resolution of the saga that had unfolded through the night hours, all the beings that I had met and fallen madly in love with and knew I was not ready to leave any of them behind.
Ander has created such a deeply layered, diverse universe for the Darksoul series. There are a multitude of beings, hybrids, mixtures of cultures, planets, religions, levels of soldiers, magics and technologies interwoven with history, past wrongs and current politics (galactic and racial). That’s a lot of elements to juggle but Lexi Ander does a remarkable job of it while keeping the tension and suspense tight and the romance between our two main characters hot and everything you love to read.
Yes, you can have a remarkable foundation but without the characters, the heart of the story, you have nothing. Here the author truly delivers. Gabe is one that almost breaks your heart. Abandoned by his parents inexplicably when he’s in his teens, he has but one friend in his life, Ronan, whose family took him in when his parents left. Now grown, Ronan remains his best and perhaps only friend who helps him recover from things like his latest boyfriend breaking up with him and going off planet. Gabe’s that endearing mixture of vulnerability, kindness, and intelligence that draws you in immediately. Then he meets Sūnder, the faeborn with his own anguished past and pained present, one who smells sooo good, and I’m so connected to this pair that the thought never occurs to me to put down the story.
Told from Sūnder’s perspective as well as Gabe’s, you understand what Sūnder has gone through his entire life, being on the outside, never being acknowledged for who he really is. Like Gabe, he too carries his own family induced pain, lessened only by the love of his adoptive mother Princess Válora (adore her too). Ander lets both Gabe and Sūnder become true partners to each other, working through and supporting each other. It’s such a joy to read, especially with all the amazing storylines going on around them that adds to the suspense.
There’s so much more I’m not going into here. A Jade forest, Guardians, moving trees, battles…this story is a feast on every level! I just love it so! And there’s the promise of more. I especially want Ronan and Akira’s story so I hope the author is listening.
If you love fantasy, run immediately get this book! And prepare to fall in love just as I did. It’s going right on our STRW Fantasy Rec List!
Cover art by Kirby Crow is perfect for the character and book.
Published September 4th 2017 by Lexi Ander