Adam Stephens is a man with a mission. It has been three years since they chopped that malignant brain tumor out of his head, and he is off on a solo motorcycle camping trip through the Appalachian Mountains.
When he rides into the Pine Mountain Tunnel in North Carolina and rides out into another realm—a realm that comes complete with a big sexy grizzly bear shifter, mages, and an evil sorcerer—he isn’t sure he isn’t lying in the tunnel after crashing his bike. Can such a world exist? Or is he dreaming? If he is dreaming…it sure is realistic.
Along the way, there will be some major hurdles to surpass including no indoor plumbing…and no coffee. A man needs some basic luxuries, correct?
I’m as divided about writing this review as I was when I finished this story. Beyond The Tunnel (The Wizard Shifter #1) by Dan Mitton has left me with so many mixed thoughts and feelings about this novel. Generally, they are all mostly good. I completed the story knowing I would love to read more in the series and that the characters certainly left a big enough impression that I wanted to know what happened to them after the ending.
First off? I loved the premise of this story. A man still in recovery from brain surgery decides to take motorcycle trip he had always planned on before his next chemo session starts. Only the light he sees exiting a tunnel in North Carolina shines with a different glow, the highway has disappeared, and the forest turned almost primeval in it’s towering growth. Is it a delusion…a result of the surgery and tumor or is it real? That would have been an interesting road to travel but Mitton goes for the straightford route which still works here.
Adams has found his way into another world, complete with magic, shifters, and an evil sorcerer. Whew. Once here, so many things start to happen. There’s a huge case of instant love. And to give the author his due, Adam remarks that yes, it’s instant love with tons of sex. Unfortunately, this part of the story doesn’t help the book. I liked both characters of Adam and Rafe but never felt that they had the time to develop their relationship. That ‘instant love’ thing just doesn’t work here. Good thing both are likable.
However, there’s so much more happening here. Mostly about an evil sorcerer, who just happens to be from Adam’s time. I found the author’s ability to make the villages and their inhabitants come alive especially appealing and essential to this story. I cared about them and certain events are devastating.
Mitton sets himself a high agenda here with this story, with multiple tasks he obviously he wanted to accomplish with the narrative. So much so that he starts with certain threads and then drops them throughout the storyline. I’m not sure if that’s because he’s going to use them in stories down the line or what. But to have these tantalizing hints tossed out here and then nothing made of them? Sort of irritating. Adam glowed in the dark in places Rafe reported? Had snatches of lightning that appeared around him? Little story elements so curious and neat that just disappear never to be seen again. Argh. And yes, there are huge holes in the story here that never to get explained satisfactorily or at all. Almost all center around magic, Adam and the mysterious sorcerer.
However, there are scenes so beautifully descriptive you’ll believe you are there. Characters both down to earth and magical that you’ll connect with and root for. There’s so much in this story that even when you want to say “why did he pull that in”, you keep going because you have to know what happens to them all.
I won’t discuss the ending. Parts really didn’t make too much sense, especially with regards to the evil sorcerer. So I expect he’s coming back in the sequel. It all ends on an up and joyous note, one that will make you want to read the next story.
Cover art works for both the characters and the storyline, Great job.