Title: “Key of Behliseth.” 2nd Edition.
Series: The Sun Child Chronicles
Author: Lou Hoffmann
Genre: Fantasy, Gay Young Adult
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Pages: 296 pages
On his way to meet a fate he’d rather avoid, homeless gay teen Lucky steps through a wizard’s door and is caught up in a whirlwind quest and an ancient war. He tries to convince himself that his involvement with sword fights, magic, and interworld travel is a fluke, and that ice-breathing dragons and fire-breathing eagles don’t really exist. But with each passing hour, he remembers more about who he is and where he’s from, and with help, he begins to claim his power.
Lucky might someday rule a nation, but before he can do that, he must remember his true name, accept his destiny, and master his extraordinary abilities. Only then can he help to banish the evil that has invaded earth and find his way home—through a gateway to another world.
What would you do if you woke up one morning with no memory of who you were or where you are? And what if you were 12 years old at the time? That’s the terrifying predicament facing a young boy named Lucky, a rather ironic name given the pitiable boy’s situation.
Fast forward three years, and Lucky, now living on the streets, has taken to working for criminals to stay alive. But his world, what little he knows of it, is about to change forever as he starts to encounter some really mysterious people, and they seem to be following him. These strangers hold the key to his mysterious past, and somehow know about the enigmatic object he wears around his neck, the only connection he has to his true origins. What follows is a tantalizing journey into an absorbing alternate world, filled with gods, demons, and even an evil witch.
I found the story fascinating, but I have to say, what really struck me about the book was Hoffmann’s beautiful writing style. I usually skim novels, but I found myself slowing down throughout–not because my attention wavered, quite the contrary. I wanted to focus on and soak in the beautifully descriptive prose on display. Quite simply, Hoffmann is masterful with words.
I wouldn’t recommend this book to those looking for a good romance. The book has a strong gay protagonist in Lucky, but his sexual orientation is incidental to the story. I also wouldn’t recommend this book necessarily for younger kids, as it is quite violent at times. But I certainly recommend it for high-school age and adult readers who like pure fantasy and fully appreciate masterful writing. If that’s you, it’s the perfect time to read Key to Behliseth, as its sequel, Wraith Queen’s Veil, is due out in October.
Jay Jordan Hawke is the award winning author of the Two-Spirit Chronicles, which includes: Pukawiss the Outcast, A Scout is Brave, and Onwaachige the Dreamer. He is an avid sci-fi fan, and while his first love as a child was Star Wars, he married Star Trek. Learn more about Jay Hawke at www.jayjordanhawke.com.