This was an interesting concept. The flow was okay, the writing style easy to follow. And there were no real grammatical errors. I honestly thought I’d enjoy it and finished it in a day. But the more I got into it the more it seemed to just hit a certain note and ride it.
Darien was interesting enough. But I couldn’t get into him. A boy apparently down on his luck but he can afford to pay his rent and go to college. Neither of which are cheap so how is he surviving when the story describes him like his living in poverty? Even Silas says this when he sees his battered and worn-out clothing. That and his character is definitely one note. He spends a lot of time hinting that he and Silas should do what adults do and Silas, rightfully so, ignores him because it’s always at inopportune times. Like when he has to deal with the ghost situation, or when he was supposed to train him before they go up against other warlocks, and the list is endless. It’s supposed to be funny, even endearing, but it’s the genuine seriousness of it that makes it not seem quirky and flirtatious. It left the impression Darien really did not understand or just didn’t care how serious the situation he was in was. Ultimately it just wasn’t fun enough to do what it was meant to do.
Also, I couldn’t sympathise with the age thing. If he came out in his mid-forties or fifties, or a legitimate older person like the protagonist in Howl’s Castle, I would definitely have been routing for a spell to turn him back. But only ten years, so basically early thirties, some people still look like they are teen boys when they shave face in their thirties, even with a full head of grey. If Silas treated him different or acted like he was no longer attractive, if anything changed then yeah, but like I said above his character didn’t have much depth so I didn’t have much to hold onto to feel this emotion with him. And, unfortunately, the real thing that killed it for me is he braved dying in the cold to get to the local necromancer’s place and when Silas says the ghost thing might be his fault, knowing no one else can help him, he gets angry runs away and jumps out a window and then even after being rescued from his fall is still trying to escape and shouting like a mad man. And only after all that he demands answers. Like where was he going to go? Did he have a plan to exorcise the ghosts in his body? Why didn’t he demand answers out of reflex considering he almost died trying to get there to begin with? I dunno it was hard to get into him. But as far as coming into his own power, Darien rocks.
Silas was a bit better. Far more level-headed and behaved the way you’d expect someone to behave when dealing with what they were up against. Physically things that were weird were him being described as out of shape and breathing heavy carrying Darien, yet still managing to have thick thighs and perfect abs. I mean it’s possible but after all that talk about him neglecting exercise, I expected him to be a teeny bit round. I like how he deals with his feelings for Darien too. He makes the right choices and gives him clear information on how magic works. He even tried to save him back as a child even though that didn’t end as well as he’d hoped. But he had good intentions.
His fight scenes are fun fun fun. Like probably the best thing in the book. That was what kept me up the first night. I was honestly ignoring all the issues with Darien because I liked Silas, and then the cat. The cat is everything. Like everyone needs a snarky feline in their life who has a healthy addiction to tuna and bacon. His timing was always perfect, and the way he and Silas interacted was just a dream. Readers could definitely use more of that.
The plot was a bit predictable. Okay, more than a bit predictable. And their relationship didn’t really grow as it sort of just happened. Like they didn’t smile at each other over breakfast enough. Sit on the couch watching TV or do anything really beyond a kiss and a few hugs that slipped in. But beyond that, it was mostly the non-flirting flirtations on Darien’s part and how Silas didn’t react to it. The relationship mostly lives in the internal thoughts of the characters when they were trying to not think about the other that way. And then the payoff didn’t happen, Grim is downstairs pawing at the fridge talking about how it is happening upstairs while explaining stuff about having the gift of sight which, in the grand scheme of things, feels like it’s only there to avoid what’s finally happening. After such medium sexual tension, at the very least readers deserved a soft adult scene.
Then there’s the setting. Darien’s dialogue is so modern you would have to bash me over the head and brainwash me to believe it’s not set in the ’80s and beyond. Yet he complains about Silas’ speech, which for the most part, is equally as modern but when it dips fits the time period they are supposed to be in. Because of these two factors, even with a phone and chord, which we had in the ’80s and ’90s so that’s still not very dating. I’m forty so I remember the first cordless, but I digress, even with the old-school phone there’s nothing to say ‘I’m a period piece’ especially when the dialogue screams modern times. Throwing in the year and mentioning homosexuality still being illegal when the sexual interaction from Darien seems so relaxed was such a contradiction my mind couldn’t wrap itself around it.
The magic was described well, the story was entertaining enough to keep me up at night but ultimately the book just didn’t lift. Especially with Darien. It’s the first in a series. Readers should know why he’s described as being poor yet is at college in the ’60s and can afford to pay three days rent in advance. Even Silas was confused by this. That and, without the action sequences, the story reads like it’s just trying to get to the next action sequence, with the exception of teaching Damien how to make and use runes. Now that was fun to read. But who takes a seven-hour nap when you’re trying to train someone and told them how important it is? That is not a nap. It kind of took the wind out of all the warnings Silas had given Darien if sleeping the day away was okay.
This was definitely a light, fun, and entertaining read but read as just okay for me. It didn’t dig deep enough into Darien to make me want to read about him in the next book. The mellow love connection didn’t supply a payoff. I didn’t dislike this book by far, but I didn’t really enjoy it either. The magical world was set up nicely but the characters and their relationship to it and to each other didn’t expand enough to live up to that. The story has no clear time period but is a period piece with today dialogue. Committing to present-day settings and modern technology would’ve set it up nice. Overall it just wasn’t as exciting or as romantic as I thought it would be. Which is a shame considering it had all the right pieces to do that but never seemed to dive into it.