Cillian Kelly is a soothsayer. It’s a name he owns as that’s just life for him and who he is. He can look into anyone’s eyes and see their fate. It’s a gift and it’s a curse as the images he sees always stay with him and follow him into his dreams. It does make life difficult as intimacy becomes uncomfortable and there are always people that wish to exploit him. Cillian is currently trying to lay low, but a man has got to make a living and people seek him out willing to give him large sums of money to see their fate. They sometimes come back more than once, but Cillian certainly knows that you can’t outrun your fate.
While Cillian has made a lot of mistakes, his biggest regret is Sören, a man who offered himself as a sacrifice so Cillian could escape those that had abducted him. When Sören then abruptly vanished, Cillian thought that the man was dead. Yet, two years later Cillian sees Sören in a photo. Determined to find out what truly became of his former lover, Cillian is astounded to find that that Sören is now possessed by a spirit who is up for a deadly competition for the fate of Sören.
This book had me at the word psychic as it’s one of my favorite paranormal elements to read about. While many genre books show the main character as psychic in name only, the author here makes Cillian’s abilities front and center. We learn all about how Cillian can see into people’s fates and how those images become a part of him forever.
The book offers a darker and atmospheric setting as the author offers a multi-layered character in Cillian and then slowly unravels just who Cillian is and what his abilities are. When he pulls the “hanged man” card during a tarot reading, he knows that a change is coming and that’s what then leads off into the story.
The story here becomes truly complex. Years prior, Cillian had been kidnapped and the son of the kidnapper, Sören, fell in love with Cillian and sacrificed himself for Cillian’s freedom. This was a real and true sacrifice as Sören is now possessed by an Icelandic land spirit. Cillian is a complicated guy and his moral compass could be seen as slightly off center at times, but freeing Sören becomes his sole quest. Now, I’m gonna say that the author appeared to have done her research here, but fully grabbing onto this story was a complicated and focused task.
Cillian engages in a competition with his former abductors with the spirit as the sole referee and the fate of Sören being the ultimate prize. This is how Cillian finds himself road-tripping with a spirit looking for land to settle on. Along the way, they play paintball and discover waffles and Cillian comes upon several people whose fate he reads. While the readings went a long way to showing Cillian abilities, I was also looking for more of the story with him and Sören. Sören, as a human, was barely on page as he is possessed by a spirit almost every time we see him. The spirit keeps Sören in stasis and when he allows him to come to the surface for the first time, Sören is screaming in terror as the spirit tells Cillian that possession is not an easy thing. I just needed more of Sören when the human side came forward as the spirit also was not made out to be an empathetic character and I kept waiting for the payoff that never did truly come.
The publisher categorizes this book as a romance and I’m not so sure I agree. Cillian’s drive to rescue Sören could possibly be seen as a romantic gesture, although that’s not what I would really call it, but the romantic arc and the ending were extremely unsatisfying for this to be called a romance.
There is also a storyline revolving around Cillian’s mother. She also has great psychic abilities and the author kept dropping small lines regarding their relationship and hints of things that happened in the past as well as the present. The full story was never offered and the ending of that storyline was not resolved at all.
This was the first book I have read by Cari Z and I did enjoy her writing style and the atmosphere she developed in the beginning of the book, and I did appreciate the character of Cillian. However, the way the Icelandic legends were presented, the overall story, and then the lack of a relationship being built were detractors for me and I was left fairly annoyed at the end with the lack of resolution. If you are looking for a story with a psychic character and spirit possession without a true romantic storyline and an incomplete ending, you could then maybe check this one out.