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Review: The Shaman of Heaven and Hell – Chris Kim

Shaman of Heaven and Hell - Chris Kim

Genre: Horror, Suspense, YA

LGBTQ+ Category: Bi, Gay

Reviewer: Maryann

Get It At Amazon | Publisher

About The Book

As the last surviving shaman of his Korean lineage, death’s specter has pushed Adrian Shin-Ward into self-imposed isolation.

That is, until a chance encounter with Bram Lyght, an attractive young man with a peculiar aura, hooks the reserved university student’s interest.

But Adrian isn’t the only one drawn to Bram. An obsessed sociopath from Bram’s past is out of prison and burning a path of destruction to reach him again.

To protect Bram, Adrian must unearth a disturbing truth about the power inside him.

Is it really the salvation he’s hoping for?

The Review

At the age of five, Adrian Shin-Ward witnessed a tragedy. No matter what his mother, Hyejin Shin, told him to do, he couldn’t ignore what was taking place. She was a Korean shaman and his father, Ethan, assisted her. Told to stay in the yard and wait for his Aunt Ramona, Adrian tried to build a wall when trouble started. A mother had brought her young boy to be exorcised, but things went tragically wrong.  When it was all over, Adrian was sent to live at his aunt’s house, and then with foster family.

Years later, Adrian is now attending college and works in the Interlibrary, where he spends time talking with Bohee Choi. Socially he doesn’t do well.  He goes to his classes, and otherwise stays secluded in his dorm room, and hides what he is. He has nightmares, and because of his dorm mate, he now finds himself looking for another place to live. 

Bram Lyght is living off campus, in a place of his own. He have a roommate, Mark Strzelelcki, because of his father, Richard Lyght. He’s known Mark since elementary school, but his roomie has been getting on his last nerve. Bram’s also on the outs with his girlfriend. On top of all that, Tyler Guerra has been released from prison, and his parents knew and didn’t warn him. At fifteen Bram was attacked by Tyler, who was caught by Bram’s father, Richard, arrested and sent to prison. Now, seven years later, Bram gets a phone message from him. He’s shocked when he calls his mother and finds out that they didn’t want to tell him the news.  

While checking out the bulletin board at Peyton Hall, Adrian accidentally brushes up against another student. Bram is posting a flyer for his band “Disasters Walking.”  Adrian feels a spark between them, and they strike up a conversation. At first, Adrian fumbles things, but Bram keeps it going and invites Adrian to the show.

Adrian is uncomfortable at the Soundstage. As he watches Bram, he can’t believe that someone like Bram would be interested in him, but there’s something magnetic between them. Have they found something special?

When Adrian and Bram realize they both have a connection to Tyler Guerra, all hell breaks loose.  Adrian will have to take his mother’s journals to Bohee, to find out who he really is. Is he inherently evil?  Will what Adrian finds out drive a wedge between him and Bram?  And what danger is Bram in, and will it lead to the death of them all?

Kim spins a fascinating tale out of Korean myths, spirits, and demons with The Shaman of Heaven and Hell. At times, it is very dark and violent. The story delves into Korean culture and language, explaining words like Eomma, Nuna, hanbok, e man, aduel, mudang, jagiya, cheonguk, joik and many more. There are also themes of dysfunctional families and verbal abuse by parents or adults here. 

I liked Adrian from the start, but it took me a little while to warm to Bram. He’s full of himself, but he does come from a wealthy dysfunctional family, so it’s not all his fault. Adrian just wants to be normal and do the right thing, and it’s hard for him to face who and what he really is. I also found Tyler to be very scary.

The Shaman of Heaven and Hell is Chris Kim’s debut book. While sometimes a little heavy in characters conversations, the worldbuilding and descriptions were done very well – full of creative ideas and a suspenseful atmosphere.

I would love to see what Kim writes next.

The Reviewer

Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California. Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018. My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen. New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights. Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.

I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors.

My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012. She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series. Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book!

As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me. But if a blurb piques my interest I will read the book.

My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing. I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.

I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews. One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group. Joining her site was such an eye opener. I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre. Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.

But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff Adams.

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