Raze has a reputation as being a troublemaker; he must, nothing else could explain the way he bounced among foster families as a child. As soon as he was legally able, Raze skipped town to strike out on his own. He managed to scrape by working menial jobs and, well, it was something like life. Raze takes some solace in music, the louder the better. One night, as he’s speeding through the backroads on the way home from another thunderous concert, Raze gets the scare of his life: someone appears in the middle of the road he’s flying down. He narrowly misses the mysterious visitor and a brush with death himself. Raze does not expect to be taunted for it by the very person he could have killed. Filled with adrenaline from the spinout and rage for the person who caused it, Raze chases after the elusive taunter and lands himself in a fantastical world he never knew existed.
Rurin is, to say the least, dismayed. He’s had numerous brief encounters with Raze over the years—each time, compelled to take a chance, to engage in conversation, something. Nothing he’s tried seems to have piqued Raze’s interest. Now, with the help of his sister, Rurin has brought Raze to the magical land where Rurin grew up. The only problem is that in Rurin’s world, Raze’s rough edges could be grounds for imprisonment or worse. Rurin only hopes his guidance, patience, and love will be enough to steer Raze onto the right path.
I feel this story contains some strong parallels to other works I have enjoyed in the way that Rurin’s magical world is underground and the colorful descriptions. As much as I enjoyed these loose similarities, I did feel like sometimes these descriptions of the physical world—it’s appearance and how it worked—were just an exercise in descriptive writing rather than adding important elements to the plots or the characters. All the glorious details about the dungeon where Raze is initially housed, the lush descriptions of the locations Rurin and Raze visit to gather materials for making lunch, how specifically various other fantasy creatures are described…all added to a wonderful mental image of this world, but didn’t engage my interest in Rurin or Raze or the predicament they seemed to be in.
Between Raze and Rurin, my sympathies lie with Raze. He’s the main character and the one who’s transported from plain old existence into a land of fairies and magic. The fact that Raze has a huge chip on his shoulder manifests itself in his vulgar language and physical aggression. I liked how Raze’s backstory is described consistently and contextually. There are two notable examples that really made Raze shine as a “diamond in the rough” type of character. One is how Raze explains to Rurin how important Raze’s car (still left spun-out on the side of the road in the human world, as far as Raze knows) is to him. Another is when Raze explains his fears of being left behind. For me, this puts Raze and his shortcomings into perspective and really fleshed him out.
By comparison, Rurin—who’s professed a deep seated interest in helping Raze stop being so confrontational—seems rather insensitive about Raze’s faux pas until he gets reminded that Raze is more than just a bad apple. I found Rurin to be part socially inept at handing Raze (i.e. not just telling Raze not to swear, but actually explaining WHERE they were going WHO was going to be there WHAT might happen to better help Raze prepare mentally for curbing his lifelong habit of flying off the handle) and part infatuated. Clearly something draws Rurin to Raze, as we learn that Rurin has gone out of his way to orchestrate several encounters with Raze in the land of the humans—not all of which Raze realized even happened. Still, Rurin feels like a bizarre mashup of dissimilar feelings and that left me feeling hot and cold.
The big resolution, the big redemption for Raze, obviously happens towards the end. Without giving too much away, there are a few foreshadowing comments and a few stories Raze shares that help substantiate the big scene at the end. On the one hand, the events unfold in such a way that Raze finally has a way of feeling like he belongs somewhere. I liked knowing he got that satisfaction. On the other hand, everything happens so quickly and so close to the end, I didn’t feel like there was any closure on the parts of Raze’s life he chose to give up. Still, the reader does get a nice happily ever after for Raze and Rurin.
On the whole, I felt like this story excels at visual descriptions. The MC’s backstories felt lopsided, with more attention and depth given to Raze and the same lacking in Rurin. Still, it was fun to see them come together and learn how to overcome their differences.