Arondale Wanderer arrives on the mortal plane, sent by the queen of elves herself, to fulfill a mission. He has to find Clay Chiles, for Aron knows that only Clay can help defeat the enemy. Trogues have invaded the mortal realm, using disaffected groups and empty promises to try and take over. Aron is determined that the Trogues will not succeed.
Clay is part of the Border Patrol’s Paranormal Operations Unit. He leads a good team, mostly those he’s found who posses other worldly talents. The unit doesn’t know exactly what they are facing, but they know it’s serious and are determined to put an end to it.
Aron convinces Clay to accept his help, and that of his small band of elven warriors. Out in Big Bend, the two groups find the enemy. But Clay is taken hostage, for even the enemy knows he’s valuable. Getting Clay back is Aron’s focus, because not only is Clay a leader they need if they hope to defeat the enemy, he’s also Aron’s soulmate. And together, they can do amazing things.
All right, y’all. I’m going to be brutally honest here. I was expecting so much from this blurb, it’s promising premise, and the places it could have gone. But this book just didn’t deliver for me. I’ll break down exactly why.
Let’s start with the world building, since that’s a particular sticking point for me. There wasn’t much. After a passing attempt at description in the first few pages, it sort of fell away. That’s not to say that there weren’t paranormal elements all through this book. There were. But it takes more than that to build a world. I need explanations. I need reasoning. I need for it to make sense. And all these elements were just sort of thrown out on the page for the reader to take in, without any of the narrative to back it up. It didn’t work for me. I needed so much more for this world to make sense, and we got very little. I could be generous and say that it’s the first book of a series, and that things may be explained as the story goes on, but I can’t get into a world like this without fundamental explanations and for things to make sense, so that was a definite downside.
I will also say that right off the bat, Aron explains that the Trogues have allied with “disaffected Latinos and terrorist groups intent on bringing down the US.” This, in particular, felt tone deaf and did not sit well with me at all. If it was meant to tie into the border patrol aspect, it was particularly disheartening, considering what is going on in the world today.
I liked Clay as a character, but I wish that he was more developed. He had the makings of a great hero, with a difficult backstory to boot, but everything was sort of glossed over. Considering his jaded past, I found it difficult to believe he’d accept Aron at his word when he explained to Clay what was going on. And then when Aron declared that they were soulmates and connected, Clay immediately jumped on that as well. I think what bothered me the most about this was that it could have been wholly believable if Clay was shown to be searching for such things. But we only got a passing mention that alluded to it, and then we were on to the next thing and to them being in love.
I love novellas, and done right they can be a true treat to read. But the lack of words worked against this book. There was too much to unpack to be told without full explanations. All in all, this book just didn’t work for me, and Clay’s good moments weren’t enough to save it, in my opinion. This book could have been amazing had it been executed differently. But as it is, I’d have to say give this story a pass.