Harry is several hours away from his remote home in Australia when he agrees to be set up on a blind date. The guy at the table is gorgeous, but is he the one that Harry has been looking for? A second date with Elijah leads to more confusion, but Harry can’t seem to stay away from the broken and scarred man. When Harry invites Elijah to his family’s resort, Harry begins to see the cracks in Elijah’s mental state and then learns that when Elijah looks into a mirror, a dead man is reflected back.
Elijah has barely been holding on for ten long years of having an assumed identity and events cause him to have a complete breakdown. His life was stolen from him for crimes he didn’t commit and no one believes that he is really the victim of a brutal crime. Although Harry hasn’t known Elijah for long, he believes that Elijah is innocent and fights alongside him to restore his rights and his life. But the toll on Harry is great as he navigates issues he knows nothing about, but he continues to protect Elijah, the man with whom he has fallen in love.
Inside His Reflection could be called an intense read and for some it may be just that. When Harry meets Elijah, he sees a beautiful man that immediately calls to him. Not so slowly it is revealed that Elijah’s mind is broken–completely shattered–by the effects of a violent crime that happened ten years prior. The crime set forth a chain reaction of way more than Elijah could deal with. While he has a job and appears to hold it together, he has never gotten the proper help he needs and exists with an arsenal of medication. Elijah’s character and subsequent breakdown were one of the areas that highlighted what Priest is capable of writing as this was the first book I have read by this author.
I was expecting an intense read here and that was what drew me to the book. While Elijah is presented as both a victim and a survivor, the rest of the story never came together for me and fell apart in many places. While Elijah’s current state is well drawn, everything around him is not. The author does not make us wait too long to see glimpses of what Elijah is dealing with, but all we really get are glimpses. This is a book where much cannot be spoken of without giving vital details away, but Elijah’s backstory, family, and current situation living under an assumed identity are not offered in enough detail to give a full picture of the story.
Harry himself is not a fully developed character. He lives with his family on a working resort and is treated, without explanation, like a rebellious underage teen although he is 32. His family, more specifically his mother, then acts completely opposite later in the book, but the dynamics of their relationship were not offered or explored. Harry also has a brother, Henry. Henry is able to figure out some of Elijah’s afflictions with unbelievable ease, and then the rest of his story, including the conclusion, was also lacking supporting details.
The main area that didn’t work for me was the start of a romance between Harry and Elijah. Elijah’s mind is completely unhinged, we witness a monumental breakdown, and Elijah is shown as being childlike. For Harry to then entertain the idea of having any kind of romantic or intimate relationship with Elijah didn’t work at all for me and although Harry was not forceful in any way, the interactions alternated between uncomfortable reading and being sort of creepy. There was so much going on at the end with many different plot lines competing for attention all at once and then there were new characters injected in at the end and much of it didn’t tie up for me. Elijah was continually taken advantage of by those assigned to supposedly protect him, he is never offered any rehabilitation, and the idea that Harry could see him through all of his troubles was not at all believable. I had a really hard time with this one in many areas and would have an equally hard time recommending it.
Note: This story features off page child abuse and rape