Rating: 5 stars out of 5
For the last five years, Veier has been chained to a king’s throne in his bear form. When a neighboring kingdom overthrows the crown, Veier’s imprisonment ends, but true freedom is not so easily earned. With blood on his hands, he needs someone with patience, strength, and trust to help him become the person he was before and prove to the invaders that he isn’t the monstrous king’s loyal pet.
Elrid, the invading king’s brother and a powerful mage, is everything Veier despises. He’s also the only thing between Veier and execution, because he thinks he can help Veier change from an aggressive bear shifter into a reasonable man. While the pair have a rough start, with long talks and mutual leaps of faith, they begin to care for each other.
However, the closer Veier gets to his freedom, the closer he is to losing Elrid. He must find balance in his heart and his life if he wishes to truly claim the freedom he’s been given—and the man he loves.
I just loved everything about Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall. Here is a fantasy novel where the author managed to combine some very dark and realistic elements like PTSD, the horror of torture , the effects of long term prisoner captivity under the worse conditions, with that prisoner’s recovery and love. That the prisoner is an Ursinae or bear shifter, the one to save and help him recover a mage and brother to a king, and that some of the methods used include magic? In the hands of author Alex Whitehall, that seems normal. Whitehall seamlessly blends modern methods for dealing with PTSD and the magical to come up with a unique combination of spells and universe for this story that entranced me.
The Ursinae had their own magic as do the Kingdoms themselves. I could cheerfully dwell in this land for many books, hoping to learn more not just about Veier’s shifter history but all the neighboring Kingdoms across the lands. If they are half as fascinating as the ones that Whitehall created for the ones we got to know here, I’m all in for as many stories as the author wants to tell.
These characters were amazing! They were so well rounded and pulled so many emotions from me in their journey to helping Veier recover from his heinous imprisonment and the scars he now carries inside and out. As it should be, his recovery is painful, slow, full of anger and fear. And the reader is on this agonizing path with Veier every step of the way. So is Elrid, the mage who sees the tragedy in Veier’s fate if he can’t be helped and the man fighting to regain who he was. I was so absorbed in Veier’s tale I totally forgot what time it was and read into the early hours.
There are other equally important storylines flowing here. Unrest in a kingdom slow to accept new rulers, people hesitant or afraid of the shifter among them, a man eager to go home again and afraid of what he would find…all these narrative threads are carried through, their importance to the overall plot arc handled beautifully, never impeding or overtaking the main plotlines but adding interest to them, like spice does to a great meal.
But the heart and center here is Veier and Elrid and what a story that is. It’s heartwarming, sometimes heartstopping, and always rewarding. This is one for my “happy shelf”, when I need a book to pull out to put a smile on my face and a lightness in my heart. How I loved this couple. I think you will too. I highly recommend Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall.
Cover art: Shayne Leighton. I like the cover, has some very nice elements on it, including the character of Veier.
Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon
book, 183 pages
Expected publication: April 9th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleMagic Runs Deep
ISBN 1626497478 (ISBN13: 9781626497474)