Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
After he loses his job, and his friends and boyfriend turn their backs on him, Miles is forced to return home to Wisconsin to live with the only friends he has left. From rising corporate businessman to repairman for Patty’s Pawn, Miles wants more. He’s better than what life has handed him.
While working outside in the frozen winter, Miles feels the pull of the forest behind him, a presence almost palpable. Giving in to the need to be near the woods, Miles walks in, telling himself that if only he could escape, be happy, he would give anything, do anything. That’s when things get weird. On his first trip into the forest, the trees and colors seem to morph and change into something not seen in Wisconsin, but a darker presence invades his happiness and Miles flees.
The next day he comes across a silver flute at Patty’s that he’s oddly drawn to and offers to research it for her. While researching the flute, Miles clicks on a website that transports him to a monster’s dungeon for a moment, and then back home. A tarot card reading, a trip to a witch’s home, and a fantastical vision has Miles convinced he’s losing his mind. Except everything seems so real in the magical forest. Terris, a faerie of the utmost beauty is bound and determined to seduce him, and a monster that Miles is strangely attracted to has his sights set on Miles. One man will be his destruction, the other will be his salvation. And Miles has to experience both.
I am admittedly a huge fan of Heidi Cullinan. There is so much awesomeness that comes from her mind. So yes, when I was faced with an honest to goodness fantasy story by this author, I jumped right on it. It took me a minute to catch on to this one, but once I did, I was hooked. Miles and the Magic Flute is a moralistic fantasy, a story with lessons learned the hard way. Think The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe except the wardrobe is a forest. There’s more to it than that, although there is a sleigh. This story has a dreamy quality to it. In fact, there were a few times I was certain Miles was simply dreaming. I loved the feel of this story.
The fantasy in this book is beautifully directed in a way that the reader is able to see and feel the good and bad of this world, almost experience it right along with Miles. The world Cullinan builds in this story is one of dreams, literally. It’s ruled by the Lord of Dreams. It’s a world of beauty and deceit. I’m telling you guys it’s an odd mixture of Faerie and dreamscape. What makes a world interesting is the rules that apply to it, and this author did not slack when it came to rule making and breaking. It’s a unique mix of reality, fantasy, and folklore—each line blurring into the next. It’s very intriguing.
Miles is a man down on his luck. He lost his job, his boyfriend left him for an Adonis of a man, and his supposed friends in Atlanta moved on without him. He has big dreams, wants to get out of the small town he grew up in. He wants more. He wants, he wants, he wants. Instead of looking at what he has, he’s stuck on wanting something different. I love his story, his journey, and his transformation. Miles has to walk through something confusing and horrifying to realize that what he’s viewed as the end of the road for him is actually the beginning of something beautiful.
The moral to this story boys and girls… yes, there is a moral, more than one, in fact. I will go as far as to say that there are more than the two that I have gleaned. The first lesson, and the easiest of all to catch is be happy with what you have and who you are. Miles wanted so much from life but he wanted it handed to him. He was upset about what had happened to him and instead of doing something about it, he stewed in his own melancholy and pity, feeling sorry for himself as if the world owed him something. And possibly my favorite lesson of all, bullies may look like monsters, but they are all talk and can be overcome. This isn’t a violent story, so I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. The Lord of Dreams leads by fear, using his powers to keep people to heel, but with the help of Miles, Harry, Terris, and Murali all overcome the big bad bully that is the Lord of Dreams and they do it by standing up for themselves. It’s all very uplifting and left me in a happy place.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It’s a little slow starting and very different, but it’s wonderfully told and holds a lot of emotion and tension. I was captivated by Miles and this great big new world. I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with next. I definitely recommend Miles & the Magic Flute by Heidi Cullinan.