John Carver has three rules: Don't drink in the daytime, don't gamble when the luck has gone, and don't talk to the dead people who come to visit.
It has been almost five years since the incident in Kabul. Since the magic stirred within him and the stories began. Fleeing the army, running from the whispers, the guilt, and the fear he was losing his mind, Carver fell into addiction, dragging himself through life one day at a time.
Desperation has pulled him back to Afghanistan, back to the heat, the dust, and the truth he worked so hard to avoid. But there are others, obsessed with power and forbidden magics, who will stop at nothing to learn the truth of his gifts. Abducted and chained, Carver must break more than his own rules if he is to harness this power and survive.
Review 4.5 rounded up to 5*
This story is a fantastic mix of action, danger and magic. I loved it!
John Carver is an ex-soldier and war veteran. I liked this man a lot. He's someone you want watching your back, but he's seen and done things most civilians don't experience. He's faced danger and sacrificed much to protect others. When his squad was killed in Kabul five years before, his life changed forever. Some call it PTSD, others call it crazy, but John's also known to some as The Miracle of Kabul. To find out why you'll need to read the book. In dire need of funds, he finds himself headed back to Afghanistan as a security consultant. But things are not so simple, and as danger threatens, he will have to embrace his inner power once more.
Mackenzie Cartwright is a nurse working in Kabul, kidnapped while heading home after a shift at the local hospital. I liked her a lot too. She has an inner strength that shines through, even when dealing with her capture and subsequent torture.
This story is not for the faint-hearted and told through John's and Mackenzie's point of view. I was riveted to the story from the first page and didn't put it down until I finished it. Having read Faithless in 2017, I was expecting a dark, atmospheric tale, and that's what I got, though it was a little less claustrophobic since its set in a desert rather than an underground mine. I could tell a lot of research had gone into the writing of this book, from the military-speak to the weapons used, and everything in between. None of the violence is gratuitous in any way; it only enhances the realistic feel to the story.
Both John and Mackenzie go through hell, so there's little wonder their psyche becomes fractured. I think it was Lewis Caroll, who's character, The Cheshire Cat, said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "We're all a little insane here." What is reality? What is normal? The author explores this concept and adds a twist to it. We know only a fraction of what the brain is capable of, so who's to say that there's no potential for our minds to evolve to use capabilities such as ESP, telekinesis and other paranormal activity. It would be interesting to find out. But it could be several decades, if not a few hundred years before the human mind is understood enough to know if these powers are latent within everyone. Or if it's our perception of the world around us that creates our reality. I find it intriguing.
There is a lot of action, particularly towards the middle and end of the book, that had me sitting on the edge of my seat. By the time I reached the end of the book, I felt breathless and was left wanting more. I don't know if the author intends to turn this into a series, but I would be interested to see what John and Mackenzie are capable of together in the future.
Graham Austin-King has written an exciting, dark military fiction novel that kept me turning the pages. This book is superb! I think that this book is a lot stronger than The Riven Wyrde Saga and shows this author's growth in confidence as a writer. I love his fast-paced writing style, and the story flowed wonderfully from beginning to end. The characters came alive on the page and felt remarkably lifelike.
Although there is mention of sex, it’s not explicitly shown. Nevertheless, I do not recommend this book to young children or those of a nervous disposition, as there are scenes of violence and gore (battle scenes amongst others) that could be very disturbing to some readers. However, I highly recommend this book to older teens and adults alike if you love dark thrillers, military fiction, and/or paranormal fantasy stories that have an X-Men feel to them. - Lynn Worton