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REVIEW: Psions of SPIRE Series, by Alex Silver

Series: Psions of SPIRE

Author: Alex Silver

Genre: Paranormal, Sci Fi

LGBTQ+ Category: Ace, Bi, Non-Binary, Trans FTM

Publisher: Self

Pages: Varies

Reviewer: Olivia

Get the Series On Amazon

About The Books

When you love your work, you never work a day—when you love your work partner, life gets complicated.

Shelter (Novella, Book Zero)

Former foster kid and abuse survivor, Elliott Sheffield, lost everything when he developed telepathy at twelve years old. He’s used to not relying on anyone. There are worse things than being lonely and alone, even for a psion who craves closeness. He has plans for his life and nothing can distract him from proving that he can succeed. That will show everyone who cast him aside. Especially his former best friend Caleb Gaetz.

Pansexual, poly, psion, Caleb is comfortable with all of those labels. Life seems easy for Caleb. He has a supportive family and a vibrant social life. The future will figure itself out. For the present he plans to enjoy his university years to the fullest extent possible. He knows his hedonistic tendencies irritate his former best friend, Elliott, to no end. He just doesn’t understand why Elliott takes Caleb’s sex life so personally.

When life throws them both curve balls, they must adjust their visions for the future to one that will give them both a happily ever after, or risk their plans falling apart.

Contains an open M/M relationship, mention of past abuse, and positive HIV status.

Bright Spark (Book One)

Sometimes growing up means giving up your preconceptions.

Aaron Anderson and Jake Matthews were childhood sweethearts until Aaron developed psionic abilities that turned both of their worlds upside down and tore them apart. 

Six years later they reconnect when Aaron returns home to work with a youth summer camp affiliated with SPIRE. Jake is at the same camp, along with his current partners, to protest the organization funding it. Sparks fly when the couple reunites and Aaron discovers hidden abilities that bring him to the attention of SPIRE. 

Aaron and Jake have every intention of seizing their second chance at love. But once more, forces outside their control are at play. And the organization Aaron believes in is at the center of events targeting vulnerable youth.

This M/M urban fantasy contains an open M/M/M relationship as well as an M/M relationship.

Keen Sense (Book 2)

In the blink of an eye, everything can change.

That’s what happened to Andrew James. One minute he was just an average IT guy, working for a large company. The next he was waking up in a hospital bed as a powerful psion. Learning to navigate the unfamiliar world of psions as an adult is a daunting prospect. And as Andrew’s carefully constructed life falls apart around him, the only one helping him hold the pieces together is Oscar Watkins. The anchor from Mount Hope Hospital who saved his life.

Oscar has worked at Mount Hope for almost a decade. And not once has he experienced the deep connection to a patient he feels toward Andrew. While he finds his work rewarding, it’s also demanding and emotionally exhausting. When Andrew arrives in a psionic crisis, it sets off a chain of events that changes everything for Oscar.

While Oscar struggles to find a balance between work and a personal life, Andrew struggles to rebuild his life. Andrew turns to SPIRE. But his new senses soon reveal that everything is not as it appears, leading him to wonder what SPIRE is hiding.

This M/M romance contains themes including a verbally abusive ex, a workaholic, and a homophobic family of origin.

Quick Fire (Book 3)

When you love your work, you never work a day—when you love your work partner, life gets complicated.

Finn Cooper is content to use their pyrokinesis fighting infernal forces on behalf of SPIRE. Their only problem is their lack of a psionic link to replace their little brother. And not having a dedicated anchor is taking a toll. Their struggle to control their abilities is impacting their job performance. And if they lose their job, that means they could lose custody of their little brother, Tim. Failure is not an option.

Oliver Hawkins wants to join SPIRE. Working with other psions appeals to him. He wants a job where his trans identity won’t hold him back from his career goals. His plans hit a speed bump when he learns his psionic abilities are too weak to qualify him for fieldwork.

When a chance encounter brings the two of them together, Oliver’s aura draws Finn to him. They devise a plan to solve each other’s problems by forming a link bond. As Finn’s link, Oliver can join SPIRE and in return he will stabilize Finn’s volatile aura. That way Finn can regain control of their pyrokinesis and their life.

At first their solution seems perfect, but then work drama intrudes on the situation. Oliver suspects all is not as it seems with his new team and their mission. And when your work has fangs, claws, and venom, the drama can get intense. Throw in guardianship of a teenage math whiz and Finn’s life is about to get hectic.

This is a queer (M/NB) sci-fi/paranormal romance featuring a trans man and an asexual non-binary person who is raising their teenage brother after they lost their parents.

The Review

Characterization

Silver has a talent for writing intertwined lives, connected to one another by platonic or romantic love of all sorts. The personalities (and the identities! 😀 ) vary widely, from the nearly feral and catlike Marc, gentle and brittle Elliot, to stalwart Em and goofy, carefree Jake. Each of these characters has their own reactions, their own journeys, their own joys and their own weaknesses to overcome.

Early in the series many of the characters are high-schoolers, and Silver was true to the age group, showcasing just how utterly foolish we could all be at that age. As a reader, you sometimes found yourself facepalming on account of it. Not because the writing was bad, mind you. Because it was accurate, and teenagers are dense. But that early frustration made the chance to watch the characters mature and come into their own all the more rewarding.

This series showcases a number of LGBT identities and relationships. It could have felt tokenizing, if the author hadn’t worked so hard to showcase the intricacies of each relationship. Each book is full of small relational details, little compromises, and small ways people help their partners cope with their issues. Layered on real-world emotional issues are the particular needs of psions: the psychological need for touch, the strong reactions to EM fields (auras) and the physical need for others who are compatible on a purely autonomic level. These layers needs and the ways they’re coped with made these people real on the page.

I’ve particularly appreciated the tapestry of relationships Silver has woven between the characters as they age. The newest book showcases a character who originally was shown as a vulnerable teen in need of protection from older members of the cast. Watching a character like that come into their own makes you feel like a proud older mentor, and it’s delightful. Other characters have healed through their romances, through their friendships, and through their ties to their community. All of it feels tangible.

Writing Style

With the occasional little hiccup of indie editing (generally negligible), this series moves at the steady clip of good interpersonal stories. Making several of the characters workers in some form of mentorship was a great technique, as it has allowed exposition necessary to this kind of alt-history environment to be framed as lessons in the classroom, which is very effective.

Once in a while, I would have liked to get a little more showing and a little less telling, but the story style is narrative first-person, so the occasional stated event isn’t too much of a problem.

Oh, and by the way. There are sweet sex scenes of several varieties waiting for you like the prizes in a box of cracker jacks. Yum…

Plot

Very interpersonal in style, these stories are nearly literary in their tone. That works well for me; if it’s up your alley, you’ll definitely enjoy these works. There’s a general arc towards improvement through each book, and if each ending isn’t perfectly happy, it is definitely looking towards a brighter day ahead.

Overall Rating

A wonderfully diverse, beautifully conflicted and powerfully connected series. It’s now one of my comfort reads.

The Reviewer

Olivia Wylie is a jack of all trades and a master of none. Trained in horticulture, she writes ethnobotany and horticulture under her own name and queer climate change fiction with a hopeful twist under the pen name of O.E. Tearmann. She lives in Colorado with a very patient partner and a rather impatient cat.

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