Dave Higgins

Combining an interesting twist on the modern world and fast-paced plot with a growing friendship that doesn’t escalate to obsessive commitment in the first book, Boca avoids the clichés of paranormal romance without abandoning the frisson.

Following false accusations of theft, Amy has moved to a new area of Miami. While out jogging she is approached by a man claiming to be the father she thought missing since childhood, who asserts Amy is part of another race. But before she has processed this, they are interrupted by a young man who accuses her father of only using her for a scheme. Knowing she is special, but not who to trust, Amy finds herself caught between warring factions.

Containing no mention of vampires or werewolves, and little similarity to classical Western magic, Boca’s mythology provides the reader with an opportunity to unravel the truth along with the character without any confusion or disappointment from comparisons to other works. In addition to this freshness, the magical structure revealed appears both consistent and plausible.

Both the immediate plot and the wider society created by the addition of this paranormal structure to the modern world are similarly engaging. And – while Amy does rapidly find herself facing a high-powered conspiracy – her involvement grows as a logical result of who she is and how she reacts rather than by constant coincidence.

However, Boca’s narration is more likely to cause readers issues. Using a mixture of close first-person description of events as they happen and brief statements of past events, it bears some similarity to a Shakespearean play: of Amy stepping back from the scene to deliver back-story and thoughts directly to the reader. This is particularly noticeable in the first chapter, which features both Amy’s discovery and use of her dream-shaping powers and the kidnapping of Amy, her mother, and her sister each delivered as a paragraph of fact rather than integrated into the story.

Most unfortunately, much of this information unloaded onto the reader wasn’t necessary to understand the story: while it might be relevant later in the series, Amy’s previous kidnapping didn’t appear connected to specific events and – without resonance – didn’t create a feeling that Amy had been constantly under threat even before her father appeared.

Amy’s portrayal is similarly divided: half of her is a sympathetic character struggling to make choices and find allies in a world she doesn’t fully understand; the other delivers laundry list descriptions of what she and other people are wearing and displays as little actual emotion from her past as her blunt descriptions of it evoke.

Freed of the act of narration, the supporting characters display Boca’s skill at creating interesting stories without the unfortunate distancing effect of talking to camera.

Overall, the reader’s opinion is likely to turn on their stance on internal monologues: a reader who prefers to be immersed in the story is likely to find the narration distracting; whereas, one who is more tolerant of being told facts to serve the story rather than because it is plausible they are mentioned, will appreciate the story and world.

I enjoyed this novel. I recommend it to readers looking for a fresh and engaging take on urban fantasy or paranormal romance.

I received a free copy from the author with no obligation to review.

Dave Higgins, speculative fiction author