For my TBR Challenge, I offer Lightning Rod, the second book in the Broken Mirrors series, by Vaughn R. Demont. I put this book on my TBR pile a few months ago, thinking it was the sequel to House of Stone, which I enjoyed very much. I learned that was a happy mistake when I began reading and recovered from my initial confusion at the different world I was in.
As I say, this is book two of the Broken Mirrors series. I read it before the first book, Coyote’s Creed, and although I expect I’d have enjoyed recognizing the persisting characters and their stories, Lightning Rod stood on its own very well.
The set up is classic hero’s journey, as is the tale itself, but told in Demont’s imaginative and sharply original voice. Miles, a young man, runs away from Heath, his violently abusive keeper (I won’t use the word lover here), and discovers he left his wallet in the apartment he dare not go back to. He can’t go back, and he can’t afford a ticket to anywhere else. At the bus station he meets a con man who calls himself Coyote. Coyote offers him a bus ticket north, with the ID of Jack Black. This is important. As in many great traditions of magic, knowing someone’s real name, or the true name of an object, gives power over that person or object. Nuanced deception surrounding identity of people and things runs through this story in the most delicious way.
Jack Black’s journey — through intricate world destruction as well as world building — gallops from near-death in an icy river and a rescue by Hades, to a less-than-modest diner run by Dave, a depressed dragon, to the bloody politics of the end of the world. Jack has massive but undeveloped magical power, imprisoned in a heart so badly and consistently abused that it can’t acknowledge its own worth. His destiny calls him to terrible greatness, and how he staggers, runs, fights, and loves into that greatness is both fascinating and satisfying.
Jack makes strange friends. He makes surprising enemies. He learns to wield magic much as a man might learn open heart surgery while having to perform it, with his friends offering frustratingly partial help while his enemies are always eager to destroy him.
The writing is gritty, intelligent, often poetic, sometimes soaringly romantic. The story is well-crafted. If high quality urban fantasy with front row seats for the end of the world appeals to you, you should read this book. And yes, this book is only number two in the Broken Mirrors series. It isn’t the end of the story by a long shot, only the end of the world… you’ll understand if you read it!
This review is part of our September Reading Challenge Month for TBR Pile Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win this week’s fabulous prize of a loaded iPad Mini sponsored by Dreamspinner Press, as well as our amazing grand prize sponsored by Riptide Publishing. You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on TBR Pile week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!