Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
LGBTQ+ Category: Gay
Reviewer: Ulysses, Paranormal Romance Guild
About The Book
A Realm falls to the darkness.
An outcast because of his mixed heritage, Braedyn of the Dark, Captain of the Royal Shields and protector of the Prince of the Southern Woodland Realm, maintains his position through sheer grit and skill. Connected to a hawk familiar, Cerin, his magic is a mixture of Arcane and wielding. At the High King’s orders, he remains by his Prince’s side through a treacherous journey through the Lands to discover answers and a new home.
Losing his Realm, his parents, and his position in one-night, High Prince Conchobar Ó Díomasaigh is completely out of his familiarity. Running for his life, relying only on his protector and Captain, he digs deep to survive their trials, the growing darkness, and go wherever they must to save their Realm. At the same time, he sees his Captain in a different light and the deepening connection between them.
Strange adventures. New allies. Growing connections. Can they survive this wild journey to save the elves, the Realm, and their lives?
The surprising thing about this book is that it’s an epic in one volume – but promising more in a series that I’ll be sure to read. The author drops you into the midst of a climactic crisis, and through a clever magical plot twist, triggers the quest that forms the narrative for this book’s plot. The imagining of this world – the magic part and the normal human part – is interesting and well done.
Braedyn of the Dark (the Elf of the title) and his royal supervisor, Prince Conchobar (who is clearly a friend and more, but not yet) are engaging and richly-detailed characters. Braedyn’s backstory is complex, and revealed in the course of the book – but you know right away that he’s a half-breed, part dark elf and part witch. You also know that all his life he’s had to work harder than everyone to get ahead; and has achieved a great deal, but is still disrespected for his ethnic impurity.
Conchobar, known as Con most of the time, has been Brae’s friend since infancy, and the crisis at the center of the story also triggers a change in his relationship with the captain of his guard. Having always had Brae by his side, he now faces the truth that his life depends on Brae, that their lives are intertwined in a way neither had ever imagined.
Every book of this kind is going to inevitably be compared to the Tolkien books, and I think Dennis does an admirable job of making that genre of fiction her own, putting a distinctive spin on all the details that separates it from the pack.
If I had any quibbles about this book, it would a tendency to careless editing, and the use of words that are too modern and jarring in the context of this otherworldly setting. I am OK with elves being intrigued by the human interest in indoor plumbing, but somehow the word “munchies” just doesn’t work. Ultimately, this is an editing thing as well – a really strong editor would have picked out all these nits.
I gave the book its five stars because I was impressed and carried away and moved by the writing and the story. I look forward to the next installment.
Ulysses Grant Dietz grew up in Syracuse, New York, where his Leave It to Beaver life was enlivened by his fascination with vampires, from Bela Lugosi to Barnabas Collins. He studied French at Yale, and was trained to be a museum curator at the University of Delaware. A curator since 1980, Ulysses has never stopped writing fiction for the sheer pleasure of it. He created the character of Desmond Beckwith in 1988 as his personal response to Anne Rice’s landmark novels. Alyson Books released his first novel, Desmond, in 1998. Vampire in Suburbia, the sequel to Desmond, is his second novel.
Ulysses lives in suburban New Jersey with his husband of over 41 years and their two almost-grown children.
By the way, the name Ulysses was not his parents’ idea of a joke: he is a great-great grandson of Ulysses S. Grant, and his mother was the President’s last living great-grandchild. Every year on April 27 he gives a speech at Grant’s Tomb in New York City.
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