Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
What helps makes this successful for me is that Hunter is well established as a character, and the reader is immersed in his POV, before anything extraordinary happens. Hunter’s choices, based on who he is as a person, lead him to another realm after he follows a thief stealing his mother’s brooch. This is a typical portal story of moving between worlds, but it’s very well written. Thrown into action in the enemy territory of the Heneran lands, a tense truce is formed between Hunter and the thief Dax as they try to survive. Once they are near out of enemy territory, Hunter meets the Rebellion forces–a ragtag band of people living in a camp in the wilderness and gets thrown into politics against the Crown. As the setting shifts to the capital city of Andreya, he learns more about his new world and how to survive in it. His world crumbles as he starts to question everything he thought he knew, including about his own mother. I felt like I was getting pulled in and figuring things out more quickly than Hunter, which is a clever way of getting the reader invested.
There are really only four main side characters that help the reader to more emotionally connect with the story and move in along in different ways. Glimpses of the rebel leader Quinnar are intriguing. Is he a good man? A good leader? Or does he just want power for himself? Because it’s Hunter’s POV, I was never really sure. It’s always welcome to have a strong, capable female character like Zinnuvial. Uri’s situation is played for sympathy, but I found it frustrating. Corrad at first comes off as a mean bully, but thankfully is a bit more nuanced than that in the end. The most interesting character is always Hunter. Because there isn’t another POV, and the story is focused on developing Hunter and the actual plot, I felt like I didn’t know Dax as well as I would have liked.
Hunter makes a good everyman; but he makes an even better hero. The character is written in such a way that there was always meant to be more for him, for his life. The author works hard at making this believable: that a modern man from Chicago could end up learning to flourish in a more difficult and brutal time without having grown up with the knowledge and skills everyone else would have. Hunter proves himself to be adaptable and able to listen and learn when under duress. The actions scenes are well written, helping to continually build the tension until the satisfying final confrontation. His relationship with Dax is a slow burn from enemies to lovers. Even after the sex, it only clicks into place when Hunter proves how clever, brave, and capable his is–making him a great match for Dax, someone Dax can really respect. It’s only when I thought back about the story that I realized in only takes place within a very short period of time, which lessens the believability. Then, there is the final chapter, which gives the happily ever after, whilst still leaving room for a new adventure as Dax and Hunter look to the future. It is clear there have been atrocities on both sides of this war and it will take time to right wrongs, so the story between the Humans of this world and the Henerans could go in many directions.
Cover Art: Tiferet Design. Rich and interesting, it absolutely works for the story and character.
ebook, 293 pages
Expected publication: August 27th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title The Witchstone Amulet
Edition Language English