When author Kim Fielding sets out to write a paranormal story, you need to shuffle off all disbelief and live in the world she carefully crafts. For there’s no doubt you will meet extraordinary people there who will make you believe in the best parts of humanity again. Astounding! is just such a story with two of the most deliciously fragile characters who are poised at every moment to capture and possibly break your heart.
Years ago, Carter Evans realized his dream of founding a literary magazine called Astounding! that would push new authors out to the publishing world and into the waiting arms of their potential fans. One of those was his then lover, Freddy. As Freddy’s career soared, Carter hung on to the dream that somehow his magazine would affect the world, change it, and make it better by each story he published. But times are changing and pulp magazines are a dinosaur of the past. Now Carter is at the dawn of his last monthly magazine and he is no longer that head in the clouds dreamer, rather he is depressed, drinking heavily, and approaching the end of a career that now hangs like an albatross around his neck. When his ex-lover’s writing career took off, as a direct result of their magazine, Carter lost interest in anything more than an occasional one-night stand and even that desire is waning. He is, in a nutshell, a lost and defeated man.
As Carter prepares his last issue, yet another manila envelope arrives containing a decidedly terrible entry from the mysterious J. Harper. Every month for longer than Carter can remember, J. Harper has sent one awful story after another about an alien who was trapped in this world and wants nothing more than to go home. One drunken evening Carter sits down to write one more rejection letter to the desperate man and, instead of his stock response, goes on a hurtful tirade about just how bad a writer this J. Harper actually is.
When Carter realizes what he has done, he is mortified and when yet another story arrives in the post, he decides to track down the writer and apologize in person. And that is when the story really begins—for John Harper is more than he seems and he affects Carter like no one else ever has. Before long, Carter is deeply affected by this strange man and decides to publish his story in the last installment of his soon to be defunct magazine. Little does he know what he has actually set in motion or how it will affect both he and John. Now Carter is poised to lose more than his dream—he may lose the one man who could be his very soul mate.
I loved this story. It was so much more than the idea that the downtrodden gets a new lease on life trope. Instead it was that realization that everything we do, however minor it may seem, sends out ripples on the pond that is our world. Those small waves affect so many others we will never see or know of and yet our impact remains the same. Astounding! is also a novel of hope and love and the idea that we can find that one person who seems to fit just so perfectly, which we can love with such a consuming passion that it defies the test of time.
Astounding! is a love story with a delightful twist and fascinating characters. You are instantly drawn in to Kim Fielding’s story and invested in her sweetly drawn players and their fate. This was a beautiful story that resounded with hope and love and all the good things we would hope for in our lives.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.