"One thing that they don't tell you is that fires can't burn bright forever."
All the reviews for this book are like "OMG, I'm a blubbering mess." and "OMG, don't read any spoilers.".
So yeah, you REALLY shouldn't read any spoilers and just go along for the ride.
But there are two things that I just want to point out anyway:
1. TJ Klune has always been a great writer, but he outdid himself with this one. The writing quality is excellent, and given the heaviness of the story, it was beautiful, tasteful and one of the best-written books I've ever read.
2. Since everyone is recommending to avoid spoilers at any costs and go in blindly, I still feel like this book could have used a trigger warning, given the main target of M/M readers:
READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Trigger warning: abduction of a family member, with no final conclusion or explanation to the disappearance or the whereabouts
So while a romance this is NOT, the writing and the revelation of bits of information a little at a time totally worked for me. This has been one of the darkest and most depressing books I've ever read. But I'm glad that I did, because not everything in life is just rainbows, kittens and sunshine.
Oh, and just to be clear: there's a tentative HFN, so this can still be considered as a romance. Though just barely.
Thanks to Elsbeth and Cinna MMon for the BR.
| 4.5 HEARTS--I knew this author's first novel would be great. It was magical.
This isn't my first T.J. Nichols; all previous works were urban fantasy/ paranormal short stories: The Vampire's Dinner and A Wolf's Resistance . Both works had great world building and paranormal ideas. The same can be said for Warlock in Training. But what I wanted to see is what the author could do with something novel length.
Earth has changed, new countries have formed and magic is known. Well I should say warlocks and wizards are real on Earth, or Humanside. The Earth is continuing to change, forget global warming, it's approaching an ice age. Most of the population doesn't know what the cause is for it. Warlocks are believed to be the saviors to stop it, But what they don't want people to know is they're the culprits. Magic exists in Humanside and Demonside, a second world where demons and other paranormal beings live. Demonside is experiencing extreme global warming, the world turning into a desert, water is scarce. Do these changes share something in common?
Wizards practice magic without using demons. Warlocks on the other hand drain demons for their magic to be more power, have stronger magic. Wizards are looked down on in the magical society. Warlocks are the upper echelon, the 1% if you will.
Nineteen year old ginger Angus Donohue doesn't want to be a warlock, despite his prestigious warlock family history. His father is forced him to attend warlock college and threatened him not embarrass the family name or him. Angus doesn't even want to summon a demon during a requisite class and tries to fail.
And that's where the magic begins.
Enter demon Saka (I am 1000% for him). He chooses Angus despite Angus trying to fail and takes him to Demonside across the void (the bridge between the two worlds). Points to the story being dual POV. Both worlds are too interesting not to immerse yourself in.
The cover is so fitting! Because I think Angus has the potential to be the bridge.
Saka is a demon mage and is trying to help his world. He's smart, calm and wicked with a knife. He shows Angus there is more to life and magic. I couldn't help but imagine Saka something like Hellboy (black horns instead, no hair, the similar skin tone)
I always try to find a Hellboy in demons I read about. LOL
Saka teaches different types of magic: soul, blood and sex. Saka's really great at the last two.
A lot of urban fantasy, tends to have an alpha type as the lead. Not the case in Warlock in Training. Angus is nineteen and reads nineteen - unsure of himself, still learning his place in the world, exploring relationships with potential partners. But he's not the typical teenager. Demonside helps open his eyes.
There is a battle between two magical worlds that felt similar to what the political and global feel is right now. The 1% is ruining both worlds, damn the results as long as they're in power. It's magical politics. People are dying for a cause that does not benefit the greater good. The ones in charge lie to the masses and attacks any form of resistance.
But there is a resistance.
And it's growing.
The book ends with a cliffhanger of sorts. There are loose threads that need to be answered. Such as who really is in charge? Why the harvesting of so much power? The suspense is well written.
Before jumping all over this, I feel I should warn potential readers of possible triggers/deal breakers: There are romantic undertones rather than a defined romance. Both main characters have sex with other people (But I feel I should explain demons have different views on 'relationships' - monogamy is not the norm,) There were brief MF moments. (Also, didn't mind. The moments were a blip on the entire scale of things) Cutting is practiced for magical purposes.
How erotic does this get? There is on page sex but don't expect pages of a drawn out sex scene. (Quite happy about that, it can be a chore to read drawn out pages) The relationship between Saka and Angus is still forming, is kinda fluid. There is another character that has a potential of maybe making this a love/lust triangle. It's not romantic. More as a means to an end but there is potential for deeper feelings. Sex on Demonside can be and is used for ritualistic needs. If you are a reader who needs the one and only, I would say to approach with caution. Because the way the sex, relationship and openness is written fits the characters. And they struggle. But it's secondary to the world building, action and suspense.
I want to rate this all the hearts but I have tiny issues, pretty minor. Technically, the story reads well. But I feel some of the chapters ended in odd spots. I like the fact the chapters aren't overly long but some ended with where it could have just combined with half of the next chapter for better impact.
But I see this book as the foundation for more to come. War is approaching. What side are you on? Will the resistance win?
Bonus was that this book stars my favorite paranormal beings: DEMONS!
And a ginger warlock! It was like it was written just for me. ;P
Fans of urban fantasy should definitely check this series out because the world building is tops. The author obvious is an urban fantasy fan and it shows in their work. The first third is mostly building. The other two thirds are fast paced and filled with intrigue. My heart started to crumble in the last 5-8% but the author pulled it through.
I am so there for this series! And I'm definitely a fan of this author after this. It's 3 out of 3 for me!
A copy provided for an honest review.
For the dudes and dudettes who like it extremely dark and kinky!
Twisted folks step right on up!
In His Skin - 4 Hearts
A mute submissive is given the world by his Master, but it comes with a price.
Warning: do not enter if you can't handle pain play, blood play, sharing amongst partners and piercing certain sensitive parts.
Dylan yearns to please his master Harrison. He tries his hardest to follow his rules and be the best that he can be. But he yearns for something...the sea.
Dylan doesn't have to cook or clean. All he has to do is please Harrison, obviously in the bedroom. Though he never utters a word throughout the story, Dylan's thoughts and emotions were very present. The story is slightly mysterious as well as erotic. Who Dylan is and how he came to be with Harrison is the leading the question that pulled me into the story.
I'm not one for pain play, so not on #TeamPain. (#Team Lube represent!) But the verbal humiliation helped ease my squickiness. And when Harrison and Dylan are alone together, the trademark Caspian possessiveness came tot he forefront, where hot breaths and threats are prevalent.
"Did your hole get enough tonight? Oh, no, wait, it didn't because I haven't fucked you yet. Only me, you hear me? It's only me who gets to have you."
That I liked. I figured out the mystery close to the end. The writing read poetic and a little somber at times. But I was super happy with the concept. It's my kind of paranormal.
At the end, Dylan prioritized what he needed the most. I'd like to think was a HEA.
Please heed the warnings before trying.
Asking For It - 5 Hearts
CHEESUS AND CRACKERS! THIS IS LIKE IT WAS WRITTEN FOR ME!
7+k words - I kid you not, I have about half of this story highlighted.
"Bet you want it all the time, don't you, a boy like you? I'll have to visit you at work on your lunch break, gag you and tie your hands in the men's room, turn you around in a stall and fuck you 'til you're crying, then make you go back to your afternoon meeting with my seed dripping out of you."
All my favorites words came to play: cockslut, cunt, fuckboy!
Pornupcopia jackpot! Filth! Smut at its finest!
Cole needs. He needs bad. The 22 year old has been a good boy. He's repressed at work, doesn't try to explore the kink, the need in him. And when he tries to finally do something about it with a date with a Daddy type from online, he doesn't meet with much success.
Or does he?
"Your eyes are hungry, did you know that?"
Bar owner and bartender Garrett sees everything that night. And answers the body call Cole has going on.
"But you still need, don't you? It's okay boy. You've found me now."
Semi-public sex, humiliation dirty talk, possessive alpha Dom...I just don't where to begin on the high points.
The thrill Cole feels, the slight, miniscule dub-con feel to it all...oh the words.
If only that pool table could talk.
"I can't wait to fuck you raw, watch you push my cum out, see it dripping out of your hole."
Cole gets shown, owned and is so satisfied by Garret, any reservation has flew the coop.
And I imagine a very cum filled happy ending. From random hookup to lasting D/s relationship...
Aces in my book! ;)
Re-read worthy for sure!
A Song in the Blood - 4.5 Hearts
Where a masochist with a penchant for blood play finally meets his match.
Here's the thing. I started this a little confuzzled.
Then is as I read along I released this was “It is Our Bounden Duty To Protect The Empire”. (Love this new title BTW) and the tags helped make it clearer.
The tags: gun play, extreme violence, paranormal, power exchange, HEA, historical setting, Kiwi MC, extreme violence. All acts are consensual by the way.
Set after the turn of the 20th century, Corran McKenzie is a Kiwi soldier slowly dying in the African desert. He's picked up a friend by the name of Sephtis. And Sephtis watches and goads the young man as his will to live keeps him going.
Now if you look up the name Sephtis, you'll see exactly who Septhis is. Or I should say what he represents. Clever, clever, author. (It's a reason why I rated so high) We get a case study of Corran's life and the start of when he craved real pain and couldn't have his needs fulfilled.
"Your want is delicious."
All he needs is to make it hurt, to bleed.
Sephtis scratches that unfathomable itch. The story starts in 1902 and carries on into present day. There are erotic moments and scenes...like this:
Add that to the mindfuckery and it's a hot little number.
"Did you know your soul hungers? No wonder I heard you all the way out here in the middle of nowhere."
It reminded me of Deckard's "Better The Devil You Know", which had similar depravity, a witty entity and crisp writing.
Recommended for readers who can actually handle the tags, DMC and those who like extreme dark mixed in with their kink.