First book of the new year!!! After just a moment of looking at the beautiful cover for this novel, I knew I wanted to read it. I mean, I don’t judge a book by its cover necessarily, but a book with a pretty cover is 100% more likely to make me interested in reading a particular book. The author was nice enough to throw a copy in my direction and I managed to get it read while on my Christmas/New Year’s break.
So thanks very much to the author for the review copy of this book! 🙂
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.
“Oh, it was a neat trick, don’t get me wrong,” Turner put in. He poked at the bullet-hole in his forehead. “Your timing was well shit though, Roasties. I mean, it wouldn’t have hurt you to decide you were Harry bloody Potter a wee bit sooner, would it?”
This is the story of John Carver, who is a former solider from the UK who is in a bit of a pickle. He’s in quite a bit of debt, his girlfriend left, and he’s got a wicked case of PTSD which manifests in the form of members of his squad from his last deployment in Afghanistan talking to him. The dead former members. The ones who died right before Carver stopped a bullet meant for himself.
When he is offered a security job in Kabul, he accepts, since the pay is enough that he could pay all his debts off. Once he gets there though, shenanigans go down, because of course shenanigans go down.
This is also the story of Mackenzie Cartwright, who is a nurse from Australia who finds herself imprisoned in a facility where they demand that she perform what is basically magic. They want her to light candles and put out fires and they go to some extreme lengths to coerce her into doing so.
This feels a lot like a military fantasy, which is normally not really my jam, but I really quite enjoyed this one. It felt somewhat like X-Men meets urban fantasy, as Carver and Mackenzie are both learning to harness and use unusual abilities while under some pretty extreme duress.
I also have to say that this book was very well researched, in that all of the military slang and what have you seemed absolutely real. Either the author served in the military or he’s got some A+ researching skills.
One of the things that seemed odd at first but that I eventually became used to is that this story is told from the point of view of both characters, but Carver’s POV is told in first-person while Mackenzie’s is told in third-person. Normally this would throw me off somewhat but in this case, I found that I got used to the switch pretty quickly. It felt like Carver’s story when he was telling it, but it still felt like Mackenzie’s story when it was about her too. It became a pretty natural switch.
All told, I really liked this story, and it found it quite engaging and well written. It was packed with all kinds of action and superpowers and shenanigans and was a great story from start to finish. I had 4/5 stars of fun with it, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who likes military fantasy or fantasy involving superpowers.
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