Trystan might be an angel, but he’s one of the few who is unchosen. He has no path in life, he suffers bullying, derision, and ridicule, and he is utterly alone. But he accepts his lot in life because he doesn’t have a choice. Until one day, by sheer accident, Trystan discovers a well in the garden, and the glorious carving of a demon on the floor. He can’t stop thinking about it, and he returns again. And drawn by a force he can’t understand, Trystan feeds the carving his blood, talks to it, and feels the connection.
When the dragon awakes, history repeats itself. Asagoroth is a leader of demons, and was thought to be dead, killed a millennium ago in the great battle where the five elders gave their life to slay him. But he was merely imprisoned, and he has been waiting all this time for the right angel to free him. Trystan is that angel and now that Asagoroth has found his mate again, he will not rest until he has him. He gives the angels an ultimatum: hand over Trystan or be destroyed.
The angels do not want to give into a demon, but Trystan defies them all. Though part of him fears Asagoroth, he is also drawn to him, and the magnificent creature is more than he seems. Their love is stronger than all the forces in the realms. But they face strong opposition, and the angels will not back down. Trystan is taken from his mate. But help comes in a surprising form, and only by uniting can the war that has been waged for so long come to an end, and Trystan and Asagoroth can fulfill their destiny together.
Oh, you guys! I’m going to try to do this one justice and I’m not sure that I can. This story was clever, enticing, well developed, and so much more than I imagined it to be. Trystan had so many lovely layers, he kept me riveted to the page. He was so lost, so lonely, but he was such a sweetheart, a truly good soul, that I wanted nothing more than for him to get what he deserved. Asagoroth, a demon, a dragon, was so stalwart and true to his love, while still retaining an edge of malevolence that I was just was blown away by him. This was a book that I really liked upon finishing, but the more I thought about it, the more I loved it.
So this is really Trystan’s story. When he was born, the seer didn’t see a future for him, so he is unchosen. As such, he’s an outcast to society, and he is all but shunned. His family, save for his sister, have very little to do with him. He’s bullied and mistreated, and while it’s not exactly condoned, no one stops it either. He’s a lost and broken young man, and he believes all the negative stuff he’s been told his whole life. But when he finds his connection to Asagoroth, it’s like a whole new being emerges. For the first time in his life, he’s wanted. And he wants and craves that so desperately, and can feel the affection and connection directly from Asagoroth, that he accepts readily. Yes, he wants to save his people, despite how terribly they treat him. But more than that, Trystan needs to be wanted. He finds that with his dragon. And yet, it’s not all easy. The reason for their connection, which I don’t want to spoil, has Trystan doubting how Asagoroth feels. Or, more accurately, has him fearing Asagoroth will end up finding him wanting or be disappointed. These fears are warranted and valid. And it takes a bit of time, and a mystical conversation for Trystan to really accept what he hears and feels from Asagoroth. I liked that it wasn’t a magical “everything is perfect” kind of thing and it felt true to his character. I loved Trystan’s backbone and determination, despite how he’d been treated. And I thought the times his insecurities came through felt real. Trystan was an exceedingly well-crafted character, from beginning to end.
Asagoroth emerges fully formed, and there is no doubt as to who and what he is. I loved his consistency, and how he acted differently with Trystan than he did with the rest of the angels. Once you know the backstory, it fits perfectly. And while some of his actions could have been disappointing, the thing is, it just worked. Asagoroth is a certain way, and you just believe he is exactly as he appears. He worked on every level. Not to mention, his chemistry with Trystan is off the charts. I did have one tiny, itty bitty issue here, and that is that I’d have liked to see a little bit more of these guys once Trystan had worked everything out, so I could see Asagoroth loving Trystan for who he is instead of who he was. But really, it worked and this was a very small thing.
I have got to talk about the world building here, because I think it was exceedingly clever and well done. The Upper Realm is where the angels live, the Lower Realm is for demons, and the Middle Realm is an uninhabited wild place. As Trystan is from the Upper Realm, and he is the primary narrator, we are shown this place the most. And the author does a truly outstanding job of giving us a feel of the place, how things work, and putting us right there in the thick of things. I could picture it clearly. The feeling of order and perfection, and the coldness, was so perfectly portrayed that at times I felt like I was there. On top of that, how things work, and the why of it, were shown throughout the story. Despite this being an utterly crafted world, I understood it completely. The world building gets a very enthusiastic thumbs up from me.
One last thing I want to talk about quickly, and I’m going to put it under a spoiler tag so as not to ruin anything for anybody.
The ending of this book is a wonderful surprise.
Part of it, the angels and demons needing to unite and come together, is foreshadowed, so I knew that was coming. But what I thought was especially clever was how this turned into a creation tale. The way the author laid it out works completely, and I was shocked in the good way to see it.
I always love an ending that works that I didn’t see coming, and Grimm certainly does that here. It was so very well done.
So yeah. I totally dig this book. From the epic opening, to the awesome and clever ending, with the fantastic characters and exceptional world building in between, I can definitely recommend this book.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.