Emerson can hear the pounding music through the wall in his dorm. His next door neighbor, Morrie, had kissed him, then totally ghosted him—no hello, goodbye, or screw you—just total silence. Emerson was hurt that they had frozen him out. Still, life goes on.
Coming home from the library, listening to the campus radio, Emerson suddenly hears his name mentioned and it causes him to jump–just as a live wire hits the puddle he was standing in. After the mysterious radio warning happens again (this time at the local bar where the drink he is about to imbibe contains an ingredient he is deathly allergic to), Emerson tries to find out who is sending the DJ his notes to read on air, but to no avail. Then, the appearance of a shadowy, winged creature who appears malevolent, but is far from it sends Emerson into a tailspin. Just what is going on, and how does it all tie back to his next door neighbor, Morrie?
In many ways, To the Flame by A.E. Ross is a really beautiful novel. The writing is lyrical, some passages are poetic, and the descriptions of places and things take you there instantly, they are so vividly done. The romance is also sweeping and unique, with both characters committing themselves to being openly vulnerable and trusting in one another. The attraction between Morrie and Emerson is not only palpable, but restrained in a way that kept me totally invested in the story—as short as it is. I really loved this story. There were a few times I got a bit lost as it hopped back and for the between present and past, but overall, it really was a gripping story that I thoroughly enjoyed.
With so many plusses on the side of this novella, it almost pains me to point out what I felt was a real drawback to the story and that is the history and understanding of Morrie’s mothman abilities. I was left uncertain if Morrie could only know the future of the one they were attracted to (that being Emerson), or if his was just the strongest and Morrie actually heard and felt others. There is just a hint of this in the final chapter of the novella that seems to indicate that once Morrie came into their full powers, there were many voices or wavelengths clamoring to be heard. I felt frustrated that the author didn’t take the time to make that clearer when I felt it would have added much to the story. The only other thing I found problematic was the fact that the novella was just too short. I wanted so much more on these two young adults and I lamented the fact that it wasn’t provided.
If you’re looking for a different kind of new adult love story, then To the Flame may just be everything you need. It is lush, with a promising ending and two lovely characters that take a chance on each other when it would be so easy to walk away.