Rating: 5 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?
I first found M.D. Neu through his fantastic Halloween horror tale The Reunion. That was an amazing well written short story that haunted me long after I finished it. So when I saw The Calling I knew even without reading the blurb it was a novel I needed to read based on the author alone. I wasn’t disappointed.
Duncan Alexander seems to be nobody special until he’s ‘called’ to San Jose to meet Juliet de Exter and change his life forever. And from that moment on, into a lush and richly woven story , Duncan and the readers jump into a world that smells of vanilla and roses, blood and mystery, pain and love. We do so with energy and some trepidation.
I love how M.D. Neu builds not only his characters, allowing us to see them grow, adding on their history while letting us see the true depths to their inner qualities, their honor, courage, steadfastness, loyalty, intelligence and more as the story quickens. But also adding to his world building and mythology. It’s as though he’s constantly assembling his world view throughout the tale. And that makes The Calling even more intricate and magical because the beginning narrative structure and universe is so beguiling to begin with.
It starts with the Immortals, now divided into two factions of LIght and Dark, but not necessarily as you would imagine of Good and Evil. No, instead it’s more of order and chaos. Rules versus a lack of rules but then again not always. So many shadows here between the two factions. The Immortals are of course vampires but even the vampires here don’t follow some of the expected “vampire norms”. Neu has created his own vampire mythology and its as complicated and bound in ritual as you would imagine given the nature of Duncan’s calling.
Nor are the vampires the only beings with magic. There are witches as well, an enemy with a need for revenge.
And there is romance as well. Although to be honest. The romance does feel at times like a lesser storyline than the one about the mystery of Duncan’s importance and the war that’s being waged all around them.
But what kept me absolutely glued to this story was the incredible plot, the cast of characters (oh how I love Victor), the suspense and the action. I couldn’t put this book down. I was in agony along with all of them, through every battle, through every loss, and then at that ending! Well, I can see that Neu is setting us up for a series and I couldn’t be more pleased.
For those that like to be warned about het sex, yes, there is some. It comes as part of the ritual turning. Yes, Duncan is gay but it’s as thought it’s just a part of who he is and not central to this story. And yes, this is a M/M romance but I still don’t feel that’s the main focus here either. The Calling is a powerfully engaging suspenseful supernatural story. One I highly recommend along with its author who has now become a must read author for me. Check out The Reunion and The Calling. And I think you’ll agree.
Cover art: Natasha Snow is haunting and lovely. Just like the book.
Published January 1st 2018 by NineStar Press