Henry has always been different. Orphaned at a young age, he’s been in and out of foster homes and schools, but he’s 18, now, and on his own. Henry works at Larkin’s, a local home improvement store, doing whatever job he’s told to do, though he far prefers working in gardening. His special talent, his … gift, for lack of a better word, is the ability to pass unnoticed, to hide in shadows and avoid his boss and her demands that he work more and work harder. He’s also able to smell emotions, and the emotions coming off of the new hire — another young man about his age, handsome and intriguing — are equal parts uncertainty and arousal when he looks at Henry.
Jamey, too, is different. As a child, he could see things that his mother swore weren’t there. Lights, shapes, and auras, and even Henry’s pointed, fuzzy ears that no one else seems to see. But his family is strongly religious and Jamey learned to be quiet about what he saw, to pretend that he, too, saw the world as a normal, bland, and boring place. When his father learned Jamey was gay — by walking in on him kissing another boy — Jamey was thrown out. Forced to leave school and get a job, Jamey finds himself at Larkin’s, working alongside Henry.
There’s something special between them, but every time they get close enough to touch, something happens. A crack of thunder, the roaring of a massive storm … and another dead body. Is, as Jamey half believes, God himself trying to keep them apart? Jamey finds it hard to care. Being gay is a sin, but he loves Henry, and he’ll do anything to be with him.
Henry is a bit of a cypher, for me. He’s incurious about almost everything that happens to him, good or bad, He never questions, never takes a moment to consider, he just accepts everything at face value. Jamey, too, has a way of going along with the flow that I found lackluster and flat, but Jamey at least has the added bonus — or burden — of his faith. His parents would take him back if he would only cast aside this whole ‘being gay’ thing and come back into the fold, accept a re-baptism, and return to the church. And Jamey is tempted, again and again, because no matter how he feels about Henry, he still loves his parents and wants them in his life.
The two boys fall into an instant relationship. I can’t say it’s a romance because it’s not, not really. One day they don’t know each other, the next they’re lovers and in love and fighting the forces of evil together because of a prophecy. Henry has as much reaction to being in love with Jamey as he does to the fact that he, himself, is actually a werewolf — or Pet, in this book — and as he does to a house blowing up, hotdogs for dinner, or a giant demon trying to kill him. It’s so listless and passive that it made for tedious reading.
This book feels jumbled and confused. The dead bodies that show up, torn apart by a wolf, don’t really get addressed. The fact that Henry killed some co-workers? No one seems to care. There’s a prophecy that the boys are supposed to follow, and follow they do, obediently going where they’re told and doing what they’re told without actually having much agency on their own. The story happens to them; they almost never make any effort to affect it, and none of the actions they take have any lasting effect on them. The ending is a shrug, with the climax and epilogue written with the same energy and, I have to say, I shrugged right back.
There are a lot of unnecessary details in this book. It’s never one example when it could be three. It’s not just an additional store a customer has been to, it’s a recitation of three, each listed out by name. These lists show up again and again and again. Lists of flowers, of food, of TV stations, various high schools, the buildings at a bus stop. Just … so many lists. I couldn’t help but feel as if it was filler as opposed to purposeful description, since there is no description. Just lists. Lists of rooms in a house, or menu options at a restaurant, or magical items or trees in a forest. And the book doesn’t need the padding. The writing isn’t bad, but the breaks for endless description or lists of things slow the pacing a lot, killing the mood any time the action starts to get going.
The worldbuilding, though, is my biggest issue. I don’t get the feeling that there is any. It feels like a smorgasbord of a dozen gods, mythologies, and ideas all tossed together without trying to make them fit together. Demons and imps and Norse gods and Celtic gods and shifters and witches and demigods and fae folk and on and on, and none of them feel organic to the book. None of them feel developed or … well, real. Personally, it feels to me as if there were too many ideas, too much prophecy, and not enough character or story. This is by no means a terrible book, but it is a flat one. I think this is an author I might keep an eye on for future books, but I can’t say that I really recommend this one in particular.