A MelanieM Release Day Review: Ithani (The Oberon Cycle #3) by J. Scott Coatsworth

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The Oberon Cycle: Book Three

Time is running out.  After saving the world twice, Xander, Jameson and friends plunge headlong into a new crisis. The ithani—the aliens who broke the world—have reawakened from their hundred millennia-long slumber. When Xander and Jameson disappear in a flash, an already fractured world is thrown into chaos.  The ithani plans, laid a hundred thousand years before, are finally coming to pass, and they threaten all life on Erro. Venin and Alix go on a desperate search for their missing and find more than they bargained for. And Quince, Robin and Jessa discover a secret as old as the skythane themselves.  Will alien technology, unexpected help from the distant past, destiny and some good old-fashioned firepower be enough to defeat an enemy with the ability to split a world? The final battle of the epic science fiction adventure that began in Skythane will decide the fate of lander and skythane alike. And in the north, the ithani rise….

After finishing the book, I knew writing this review was going to be frustrating.  Why?  Because it’s going to be hard to find the words to describe just how incredible Ithani, the final story in The Oberon Cycle truly isJ. Scott Coatsworth left himself quite the task in pulling together all the plot threads and overall monumental trilogy arc and bring them all to all rousing conclusion that not only is beautifully imaginative, but thoroughly satisfying.

But the author accomplished that task and then went further.  This book is magical in its reach and edifying in the joy and depth of its conclusion.  It stretches out past time and space,  it encompasses the past, present, and future with equal verve, heart-stopping action and suspense. It brings to many a deep abiding love in so many forms, a search for self and what that means and, oh, yes the astonishing winged aliens of several species.  Plus the probable end of not one but two worlds.  There are multiple cultures, languages, sciences to understand and embrace along with all the characters that Coatsworth has created.

It’s an absolute tour de force.

I am certainly not giving out any details.  Even now, thinking back on elements and tiny narrative jewels the author will deliver to the reader, I remain so grateful and stunned at the twists and turns he built into Ithani.  Ones that even now continue to astound and delight.  I’m a fan of Coatsworth’s science fiction series the Liminal Sky and, here we find a major storythread that links this trilogy to that one.  For a reader that is not familiar with the Liminal Sky Series, will they feel lost?  Not at all.  This element is beautifully explained and threaded into the plot line, it’s important and as vital as any element in the narrative.  But that it’s linked to another series altogether?  Only those who know and adore the Liminal Sky  will be dancing in dazed joy over this narrative inclusion.

That’s just the way this whole novel goes…like dancing lights above a lake.  It will entrance you, pull you in, leave you to wonder at it all.  And then make you want to take the journey all over again.

I highly recommend the entire Oberon Cycle trilogy, starting with Skythane, then to Lander, and finally to this magical, incredible conclusion Ithani.  It’s February and I already have an addition to my Best of 2019 list this year.  That would be Ithani and the Oberon Cycle.

Cover Artists: Anna Sikorska.  I love the drama and eyecatching colors of this cover.  Great job.

Sales Links:

Buy Now: Dreamspinner Press Buy Now: Amazon KindleBuy Now: AmazonBuy Now: Barnes and NobleBuy Now: KoboBuy Now: iBooks

Book Details:

Paperback and eBook 290 pages
Expected publication: February 19th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
ISBN 1644051125 (ISBN13: 9781644051122)Available on: February 19, 2019
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genres: Romance, Sci Fi
The Oberon Cycle:

Skythane

Lander

Ithani

What Happens Coal in the Stocking isn’t the Worst that Could Happen? Find out with ‘Nicolas’ by Dianne Hartsock (excerpt and giveaway)

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Nicolas by Dianne Hartsock
Release Date: December 18, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Dianne Hartsock here today.  Welcome, Dianne, I understand you have something special to share with our readers this Christmas Day!

~

Merry Christmas! Thank you so much Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me on this special day. Last night, Christmas Eve, Nicolas sat wrapped in Jamie’s arms in front of the fire, stealing sweet kisses. Later, after sharing their passion, Nico sprawled on the couch and watched the lights twinkling on the Christmas tree while Jamie read a book, his feet on Nico’s lap. Nico sighed in contentment and quiet joy and made a list of the things he was most grateful for.

  • Jamie, my sweet angel, who has completed my life.
  • The peace I feel in my heart at this moment, knowing the Krampus’s hold on me is gone.
  • God in his mercy has given me a new lease on life.
  • I’m grateful for the friends who have stood by me and the new ones I can now make
  • Every time I can make Jamie smile.
  • That Andy and his father are safe this Christmas.
  • Jamie has forgiven me and I have learned to forgive myself.
  • That I can now spread the word of peace in the world unhindered by the Krampus’s interference.
  • Jamie is safe in my home tonight and I will spend my first Christmas with the man I love.
  • God has forgiven me.

That was beautiful.  And it certainly makes me even more intrigued and eager to read their story.  Now more about Nicolas by Dianne Hartsock:

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Blurb

Betrayed by a lover, Jamie rents an isolated cabin on Lake Huron, wanting only to be left alone. Instead, he is pulled from his solitary existence as an artist and tumbles headlong into the legend of Saint Nicolas.

As a young man, Nicolas accidentally killed a man intent on murdering three children, only to have the man’s malicious spirit rise up against him. Fleeing through the centuries from the Krampus, the evil troll-like creature that dogs his steps, Nico finds refuge with the young artist who takes him into his home and bed. But Jamie has questions. Who is Nicolas, and why does the Krampus want to destroy him?

When the Krampus begins to torment and torture anyone Nico comes in contact with to punish him, Jamie’s life is put in danger. And Jamie isn’t sure whether he can help Nico defeat his nemesis or if he’s merely a pawn in the Krampus’s game.

 

Pages or Words: 200 pages
Categories: Contemporary, Fantasy, Gay Fiction, Mythology, Novel, M/M Romance

Excerpt

Jamie startled awake. “What?”

He had trouble breathing, the crushing weight on his chest seeming to have followed him up from his dreams. But that couldn’t be right. He’d rented the cabin for its isolation. No one should be there. Did he still dream?

A warm breath brushed against his cheek, sending a shiver of dread and strange anticipation through him. “Easy, baby,” a silky voice whispered in the darkness. Sharp teeth nipped his earlobe and pleasure and pain sparked along his nerves. His eyes adjusted to the moonlight filtering through the sheer curtains, and he stared in amazement at the man gazing at him with wild green eyes, long pale hair, high cheekbones and a slender neck he craved to run his tongue along.

The stranger laid his weight on him, driving the air from his lungs and making Jamie struggle for every breath. Shifting position, the man sealed his full lips over Jamie’s, drawing a long groan from Jamie when an impossibly large cock slid against his. In sudden panic he reached to shove his unknown visitor away and touched hot skin and lean muscles. Of their own volition his hands roamed lower, following the curve of the stranger’s back to the rounded swell of his ass. He drew a quick breath and the man laughed into his mouth, pushed his tongue deep, thrusting inside to match the movement of his hips as he ground against Jamie’s aching dick.

Heat pooled in Jamie’s stomach. God, what was happening? The thing in his bed looked like a man, but his every instinct shouted otherwise. His skin was warm when it should have been cold from being outside. And how had he gotten in? All the windows and doors were locked tight against the winter storm. It was as if he’d just materialized in Jamie’s bed. “Who—”

He cried out when a hand pushed between them and grabbed their cocks, stroking them together until he lost the ability to think. So close! He grabbed onto the man’s firm ass and yanked him tighter against him, rising up to shove into his strong grip.

The triumphant hiss in his ear shot ice through his veins. “So naughty.”

“No!” Jamie struggled to sit up, scrambling back against the headboard. He blinked, finding himself alone in the room, only his ragged breaths disturbing the silence of the cabin. A forgotten anxiety knotted his stomach. Naughty. He hated that word, tossed about by the boys he once knew in school. The ones he’d suck off behind the gym, desperate for a gentle hand in his hair, balm against his loneliness. He’d been terrified his parents would find out he was different, that he liked girl things and found boys much more exciting than he should. They would know he was gay and there would be hell to pay for their freak of a son.

He scrubbed a hand over his face. God, that had been ages ago. The last shreds of the dream dissipated, and he reached for the bedside light, fumbling in the darkness for the switch. Low light stung his eyes and he blinked at the empty bedroom, unable to believe the attack hadn’t been real.

He flung off the heavy quilts and slid to his feet, clinging to the post at the foot of the bed as a wave of dizziness struck him. Laughter from the other room jolted him. Heart pounding, he bolted for the door and it crashed into the wall as he flung it open. The reddish glow from the banked fire on the hearth lit the main room of the cabin, though the kitchen area remained in shadows.

Jamie’s gaze swept the rooms, focusing on the dark corners. No one jumped out at him. Nobody sat on the couch. His coffee cup remained undisturbed where he’d left it on the hearth. Of course. The cabin was isolated, miles from the nearest neighbor. Who would bother to come way out there, especially with the threat of another snowstorm on the way?

He ran a trembling hand through his hair, pushing the sweat-drenched bangs from his forehead. Christ, the dream had seemed so real. The cold of the great room finally registered, creeping up from the hardwood flooring. Shaking, he crossed to the fireplace and stirred up the coals, adding another log.

With a sigh, he sank into the cushions of the worn couch and pulled the woolen afghan around his bare shoulders. The log caught and the fire crackled, sparks dancing up the flue. Recalling his dream and the hard body against his, he shrugged when his cock perked up.

“It’s been a while,” he acknowledged, watching the flames lick at the oak log. He’d signed a year’s lease on the cabin, right after catching his boyfriend in the stairwell of their apartment building, making out with their neighbor. It hadn’t been the first time, either, though again Patrick had his apologies ready. That had been over six months ago, and since the cabin stood miles over rough terrain from the nearest town, he’d rarely seen another human being in all that time.

“Just the way I like it,” he told the indifferent fire burning its way through the wood. But the stranger’s lips in his dream had been soft, his thrusting tongue sweet in Jamie’s mouth. He hadn’t liked the violent aspect of the dream, but if that had been a lover in his bed? His dick pressed against his thigh, and Jamie reached under the heavy blanket, moaning when he took its heavy weight in his hand. Drawing lazy circles on his balls, he let the pleasure build slowly, lifting his cock while in his mind the stranger licked the glistening head, his pale gold hair a curtain of silk against Jamie’s sensitive skin. He moaned as the man slid his tongue down the thick vein on the underside of his cock.

His mind flitted over the question of whether the guy would fuck him or want it the other way around. Didn’t matter to him. He liked it both ways. Rolling to his back, Jamie continued to stroke himself while he tugged his tight balls, then pressed a finger against his hole. He remembered the lube in the nightstand drawer by the bed, but he wasn’t about to stop, and hissed when he pushed the finger inside. The man’s cock had been huge in his dream. What would it feel like as it stretched him open? Would it be enough to fill all the empty spaces inside him?

It was a moment before the tolling of a bell outside the cabin registered. What the fuck? Jamie sat up, trying to hear past the pounding of his pulse in his ears. His cock throbbed and he groaned in frustration, knowing he couldn’t chase his pleasure until he found out what was going on at the dock. The only one to boat in was the man who dropped off his monthly supplies, and he’d been and gone two days ago. Who else would be using the dock? Jamie had been isolated for months without anything disturbing his peace. But this night he’d had a wildly erotic dream and now this. What made tonight so special?

Buy the book:

Amazon | KOBO  | Barnes and Noble  | Dreamspinner Press E-book & Print | ARe 

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Meet the Author:

Dianne grew up in one of the older homes in the middle of Los Angeles, a place of hardwood floors and secret closets and back staircases. A house where ghosts lurk in the basement and the faces in the paintings watch you walk up the front stairs. Rooms where you keep the closet doors closed tight at night. It’s where her love of the mysterious and wonderful came from.

Dianne now lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play. She says Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write. There’s something about being cooped up in the house with a fire crackling on the hearth and a cup of hot coffee warming her hands, which kindles her imagination.

Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.

 

Where to find the author:

 


Tour Dates & Stops:

21-Dec: Cheekypee Reads and Reviews, Kirsty Loves Books, Full Moon Dreaming

22-Dec: Unquietly Me, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Divine Magazine, The Hat Party, Inked Rainbow Reads

23-Dec: Happily Ever Chapter, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Mikky’s World of Books

24-Dec: BFD Book Blog, Velvet Panic

25-Dec: Joyfully Jay, 3 Chicks After Dark, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

28-Dec: Love Bytes, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews, My Fiction Nook

29-Dec: QUEERcentric Books, A.M. Leibowitz, Books A to Z

30-Dec: Prism Book Alliance, Alpha Book Club, Cathy Brockman Romances

31-Dec: Molly Lolly, Bayou Book Junkie

1-Jan: The Novel Approach, Havan Fellows, Dawn’s Reading Nook, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prize provided by the author and Pride Promotions.  Happy Reading!

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Review of (Un)Masked by Anyta Sunday and Andrew Q. Gordon

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Rating: 4.25 stars

Jayden Walker has two goals in life, he wants to see the plays he wrote with his best friend, Gristle, performed at Wellington’s Tory Street Theater and he wants to meet his soul mate.  But for now he and Gristle, brother of his soul and best friend, are struggling to make ends meet in a moldering plumbing challenged home, aka the hovel.  On his walk home from a despondent meeting with the theater manager, he hears an accordion busker playing a tune of irresistible joy and hope.  Drawn to that sound, he sees a small figure in a hoodie dancing on the street corner and spies a thatch of blond hair and an eyebrow divided by a scar.  Something about the moment seems magical, but Jay hurries on as Gristle is expecting him home.

Jay waits tables to earn money, but things are so tight that Gristle decides to become an”escort” to get the extra money they need to put on their production.  This decision tears Jay up inside and while Gristle says it doesn’t bother him, it is clear that it does but his mind won’t be changed.  As Jay heads out to the public bathrooms, he sees the accordion musician being attacked by a man near the beach.  Oddly enough, the busker is not fighting back, just letting the man pummel him.  Jay runs up to intervene and stops the attack.  The man under the hoodie is Lethe Cross ( a name heavy with portent). Jay and Lethe are pulled together by a mutual attraction that gets stronger which each meeting.  But Lethe’s life is full of mystery.  People keep calling him by different names, his head is always covered by a hood as he never wants his face to be seen, and won’t let Jay bring Gristle to meet him. The last is a huge bone of contention between Gristle and Jay.  Before long Jay is being pulled in two opposite directions by the two people he loves the most and who need Jay more than they have ever needed him before.  Gristle is hiding things from Jay and Lethe finally tells Jay that he is the last of his family that has carried a curse for over a century.  The curse is slowly killing Lethe as all in his family have died young because of it.  There is a way to end it but it may cost Jay everything he loves, even his life.

Never have I felt so ambivalent over such a beautifully written book.  Authors Sunday and Gordon give us characters of heartbreaking beauty in the gorgeous setting of Wellington,the capital of New Zealand, where the ocean meets hills and nature is just a step away from civilized zones. Here the geological earthquakes are mirrored by the earthquakes of the heart and soul that happens to the characters in the book.  Jay is our narrator, the actions of the others seen from his point of view.  But that is not to say that Jay sees all that is happening around him with clarity. To the authors credit, the readers can see where Jay’s vision has become clouded by emotions in turmoil, we can see the storms coming even if we are helpless to stop them.  I loved Jay.  An artist dying to get his vision out to the public, he dreams of writing plays that people will see and he wants to accomplish this goal with Gristle, his “bro”, the brother of his soul, even if they are not related by blood.  Jay also has a certain pragmatism about him.  He does see that the bills get paid and hold down a job. Jay is gay and wants to find his soul mate.  Gristle, his “bro” is Jay’s best friend and roommate.  Gristle is straight and has a traumatic past that he has never recovered from.  One of the things missing from the book is Gristle and Jay’s back story.  I wanted to know how they met, under what circumstances did these two get together and become so bonded that they almost breathe in unison.  Then there is Lethe Cross, the musician who turns out to be Jay’s soulmate.  Lethe starts out as a complete mystery to Jay and the reader, although the name is a portent in every way as memory itself is a cross Lethe has to bear.  As the little oddities about Lethe start to add up in Jay’s mind, they do so with us too.  As person after person mistakes Lethe for people in their pasts, an aura of magic starts to pervade the story, and not in a good way.  More in a Grimm’s fairy tale overtone, suffused with darkness and angst.  When the truth behind the mystery is uncovered, we feel Lethe’s pain.  His life has never been his, the curse brought on by an ancestor that everyone in his family had paid for with their lives.  But for as much as I felt for Lethe, in some ways he remained a chimera for me, parts of him remaining as elusive as a wisp of smoke.

It is Gristle who is the heart of the story for me.  It is Gristle who captured my heart.  And it is Gristle who made me weep, bawling like a baby for the second half of the book. I was/am 100 percent invested in Gristle. His heart so huge, his love for Jay so all encompassing, so beautiful and pure.  Their bond is one of precious metals and the red petals of the Pohutukawa tree.  It is the two of them I loved.  From their nightly excursions that Gristle surprised Jay with to help Jay step outside his inner boundaries to their “hovel” decorated with bits of their dreams and a room full of kites to fly.  They were so magical that in many respects Lethe felt like the intruder Gristle came to regard him as. Neither Gristle nor I ever recovered from Lethe’s introduction into Jay’s life.

Something happens to Gristle halfway through the book and because of that event, I found myself so emotionally let down and distraught  that I detached myself from the story and never quite recaptured the original feeling I had when I started the book. I feel Gristle deserved a better script that the one he was given.  I know I felt that way right to the end. We all bring our personal baggage to the books we read that  let’s us take one character over  another into our hearts or takes one part of the story and highlights it above all the rest of its elements. Gristle was my focus here, my true north instead of Lethe and his mystery.  You may find yourself feeling completely different. That possibility stems directly from the wonderful writing that is (Un)Masked.

I enjoyed learning things about Wellington, New Zealand from the official Christmas tree to the aboriginal magic that resides in its hills. That setting gave the story an extra layer that enriched it from start to finish. And I have a final quibble to leave you with. For all the pain, all the loss that occurs and reverberates through the story, at least at the end the enemy should have been defeated unequivocally, vanquished forever and we were not given even that satisfaction.  It would have balanced out the darkness with the light of hope for total peace at last, at least for me. But where I found despair in the latter part of the story, others might find hope. So while I won’t ever be picking up this book to read again, the wonderful writing, the memorable characters, and the different ways people come to stories, lets me give this tale a 4.25 star rating and a recommendation for you all to pick it up.  Drop me a line after you read it.  I will be curious on what you take away from (Un)Masked.

Cover photograph by Caroline Wimmer, graphic layout by Anne Cain.  I loved this cover.  I only wish the font color and the mask were a wee bit lighter to make it easier to distinguish the names and title.

Review of Suicide Point by Georgie Leigh

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Rating: 3.75 stars

Surfer boy Charlie and police officer Ness have a one-night stand and part, not to meet up again until the night Charlie crashed his car.  Until that traumatic day Charlie has only been interested in casual relationships and days spent at the beach while Ness has been fighting with the nightmares and scars that remain from a past relationship gone horribly wrong. But on that day when Ness and his partner come across Charlie’s twisted wreck of a van, the lives of both men change forever.  As Ness holds onto Charlie, the emergency team must amputate Charlie’s arm in order to free him from the twisted frame of his van.

When Ness visits Charlie in the hospital, a relationship is struck up between them. Charlie needs Ness in so many ways.  To help him adjust to his new body and loss of his arm, to provide emotional support as Charlie works to accept the reality of his disability.  Ness also needs Charlie’s love and faith to conquer his insecurities and doubts in starting another relationship and reaching out  again after such a long time alone.  But it is not just their fears and uncertainties they must overcome, but Charlie’s foster brother, Joey whose possessiveness and instability threaten all around him.

Suicide Point is interesting and successful on several levels but ultimately falls short in my opinion due to too many plots within one book.  The main issue I see here is that the author has two great stories here.  One story is that of Charlie’s traumatic accident,  from his amputation,through his journey from  shattered self image to one of self reliance, recovery and acceptance of his body. That plot line alone, along with starting a relationship with the man who helped rescue you and was present during the amputation, would have elevated Suicide Point into the 4 star category easily.

The second book contained inside Suicide Point is that of a thriller.  Two men brought together by a life changing event are threatened by a person close to them, who not only plays cruel mental games with them but physically sets out to harm one or both men, a la Gaslight.  The level of anxiety the author creates increases exponentially until the reader is constantly waiting for the next horror to occur. Separated, the stories are fine but together intwined, each fights for the reader’s attention and empathy until both suffer from an overload of angst and anxiety and a really satisfactory ending is lost.

The other issue here is that of characterization.  Charlie is easily the most realistic character Leigh created.  I really believed him, from the cocky surfer to the depressed amputee.  Charlie grabbed my attention and my compassion.  Ness Anderson was part of the problem though.  He was weighted down with too much backstory.  He had an unstable lover who shot him and then committed suicide.  He is a police officer who works on RBDU, Rescue and Bomb Disposal Unit.  And yet even as Ness recognizes the dangers that Joey poses, he disregards his gut and intellectual feelings?  I just never bought that.  Ness came across as a much less authentic character and that took away from the story.  I think he was most successful as a character during the time he was helping Charlie adjust to life as an amputee, after that the realism faded.  Their layered relationship seemed to have a realistic foundation as Charlie went through the known stages of grief for his past life and body.  Joey, however, made a very credible damaged kid.  A unstable child, his fixation on his foster brother turns him into a menace that no one wants to recognize, a personality often seen in the news today in shattering detail.

To recap, there is much to admire about Suicide Point and the author’s ambitious goals for this book.  Sometimes less really is more and Suicide Point could have used a divider so that both stories could have gotten the attention they deserved.  I look forward to more from this gifted author.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Cover:  Reese Dante’s cover is fine except for the font.  While I get the idea of a red (bloody) messy font, it’s not necessary and a cleaner font would have been much better.

A Review of Burn by T. J.Klune

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This review was written for  and posted on JoyfullyJay on February 20, 2012:

Rating: 3.75 stars

Burn is the highly anticipated second book by author TJ Klune, whose debut novel, Bear, Otter And The Kid was a wonderful and well received story of a young man coming to term with his sexuality within the confines of family neglect and maternal abuse.

“My name is Felix Paracel, and when I was nine, I became angry at my mother and killed her with fire that shot from my hands.”

With those words, T J Klune again takes us  into the mind of another young man seeking out both his identity and his destiny, Felix Paracel.

Burn takes place in an alternate Universe where Elementals, those people who can control the elements of fire, earth, wind, and water, are a minority race on Earth.  There are many of the same historical markers (i.e, WWII but with Elementals having helped win the war against Germany), but just alien enough to throw off familiarity.  Felix and his father have fled underground after Felix killed his mother. They took new identities and lost themselves in the metropolis of Terra City.  But the darkness is rising with intolerance and bigotry are now the ruling forces within the Government.  Much like Nazi Germany, the rights of Elementals are being taken away, and they are being rounded up for experimentation and incarceration.   As in any epic tale, it is time for the One to appear to save his people and that is Felix.

Burn is the first volume  in the Elementally Evolved Trilogy.  Here TJ Klune is striving for epic storytelling. He has created an ambitious Creation saga, complete with a huge cast of characters, a Tree God, and, of course, the Savior figure, the One…known here as the Findo Unum—the Split One—whose  “coming has been foretold for generations”.  Along with Felix, there is Seven, his Iuratum Cor, or Felix’ heart/mate, and a group of people who make up Findo Unum’s guard of warriors.

I was really looking forward to this book after reading Bear, Otter And The Kid because of its warm, funny, and sometimes heartbreaking characters.  T.J. Klune had warned everyone that this was different in scope than BOATK which would have been fine if the quality of storytelling remained the same.  Unfortunately for me, it did not.

In reaching to create such a large vision in Burn, the story became weighed down with too many timelines (Felix is narrating the tale from the future, then Felix is relating the story in the present, back to the future tense, then Seven is telling Felix the story of the past, then to the present and so on).   At one point, Felix (future) tells us about a betrayal that will happen soon (present), but then loses any emotional buildup as it takes another chapter to happen while they all train.  Sigh.

T. J. Klune has a wonderful way letting dialog paint a picture of a character, and that is true here. Tick and Tock the Clock Twins to Otis, a brain damaged gentle giant, come instantly to life through their words.  Seven too seems realistic, driven and obsessed with finding Felix and keeping him safe . It is the character of Felix himself, age 24 when the first chapter starts, that seems in so uncertain.   His “voice” seems to vary between that of a rebellious teen to one of indeterminate age, sometimes on the same page.  Can you care about someone when you can’t get a grip on who they are?  I don’t think so.

Repetition in the narrative is another killer here.  I think the author did it on purpose, trying for a certain greek chorus effect, but it merely becomes irritating and bogs the story down further. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I read about Seven’s “ocean eyes”.  This becomes a problem when you start anticipating that phrase instead of paying attention to the story.

There are several riddles figured into Burn that are supposed to shock you at the end as they are revealed.  I won’t give anything away but while one is well concealed the main  secret is easily guessed at from the very beginning so the shock value is lost. Again I blame overly dense, repetitive storytelling and wonder where his editor was.

It is not until the last two chapters, that T. J. Klune’s talent starts to shine.  It is here at the end that the promise of real storytelling that flickered throughout the majority of the book roars into life.  The writing is crisp, the action dynamic, and the story comes alive with all the fire and wind that Felix commands.

And it is that promise at the end that will make me continue with the series.  I can hope that with this volume out of the way and the exposition done, that the story of Felix Paracel will become more concise, more linear, and of course, elementally evolved.

My rating:  3.75

Cover:  I love the cover for this book.  Nice imagery and perfect for the story within.