Written by Ryan La Sala
Published by Sourcebooks Fire, December 3rd, 2019
My star rating – 3.5 stars
All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember how he got there, what happened after, and why his life seems so different now. And it’s not just Kane who’s different, the world feels off, reality itself seems different.
As Kane pieces together clues, three almost-strangers claim to be his friends and the only people who can truly tell him what’s going on. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident. And when a sinister force threatens to alter reality for good, they will have to do everything they can to stop it before it unravels everything they know. This wildly imaginative debut explores what happens when the secret worlds that people hide within themselves come to light. Find it on Goodreads
I love a book that doesn’t quite fit into a genre…. let me explain. It’s contemporary with a fantasy element. Or is is fantasy with contemporary elements? I think it’s a bit of both. But either way you look at it, this book takes the real world and seamlessly melds it with worlds that have demons, heroes, cave walls, and so much more! There’s mystery, suspense, dream travel, lost memories, an evil drag queen (yes I said evil drag queen), and great relationships along the way.
The world building was unique and so well done! Especially when you’re dealing with a book that transitions quickly between reality and fantasy, I can only imagine how difficult that would be to write. But here, it was so well done! I’ve read some books where the transition was done at the snap of the fingers – one minute you’re in reality and then the next minute you’re somewhere else wondering what just happened, where you are, and confusion sets in. Here you saw the whole transition. Little warbles and changes built reality into something else entirely and we saw the transition from the eyes of the characters. The atmosphere was equally as wonderful! Ominous, mysterious, tense, scary….. you felt it all! The world building and the characters emotions were a perfectly balanced mirror.
This book was refreshing in so many ways! First of all – relationships! The main character had a great relationship with his sister and mother….. rare! There’s usually some sort of discord with the family or a family member is dead (I hate that!) but none of that happens here! There’s love and communication…. and it was wonderful! There is also a really great friend group! It was made a little complicated though since Kane didn’t have his memories and couldn’t even remember being friends with them. He was unsure if their relationship was real or imagined, and also wondered if he could trust them.
My favourite part of the story though – I LOVED how comfortably gay this book was!!! I often struggle to explain myself so if I say anything that offends PLEASE let me know as it’s not my intention. It was so refreshing to have a character just be gay. He was loud, proud, and confident in who he was. There’s nothing wrong with a book about someone discovering their sexuality BUT it was so nice to have a character just BE. That’s who he was. He was supported by everyone in his circle and didn’t need to worry about explaining himself. His family and fiends were also comfortable enough to make jokes about stereotypes. There was a passage in the book where the sister was asking if he ate breakfast and he said he had Pop Tarts. The sister asked him if that was something like cannibalism…… I almost died!!! Also, as soon as it was announced that a character was a drag queen, the pronoun “she” was used exclusively. What a concept! As a straight girl, reading a book where a character is unsure of how to identify and the pronouns are flopped back and forth, is confusing!!! It was so nice to have characters be who they were, not have to explain or defend themselves, and be identified as such with no problems. AMAZING!!!!!
As much as I liked this book, it wasn’t without its faults. Problem is – I can’t figure it out! You know how you read a book and something just felt like it was missing? That’s what happened here. It was structurally sound but for some reason I didn’t connect to it the way that I wanted to. Maybe it was something missing with the characters? The pace seemed to drop off in the middle so maybe that’s why? I can’t explain it! I think that this was a bit of a case where I enjoyed all the elements of the story but there was something missing within the execution. Keep in mind though – this is only a debut! Things are rarely perfect with the first book. So I absolutely plan to read more from this author!!
If you’re interested in this book (as you should be!) click HERE for the cover reveal and excerpt from the book!!!
Until next time, happy reading!