Sage has come far in a short time. Not long ago, he was working for his cruel and miserly father, with almost no one in his life aside from his best friend, Beez. Now, Sage owns the bookstore after his father’s death, and is surrounded by loved ones, including his boyfriend, Gabriel; his grandmother, Iris; and his fox familiar, Fluke. All would be great, except for the fact that there is a murderous group after him who thinks Sage’s magic is evil. And the fact that someone has tried to kill him twice. Not to mention that magical law enforcement is knocking on his door, questioning Sage’s story about what happened to one of their own who ended up dead after attacking Sage. Still, the sense of love and connection Sage has now found is going a long way to helping him move on, even as he struggles to hold off the quaesitor’s questions.
When Sage learns that his stepfather has been released from prison on parole after he savagely murdered Sage’s mom, Sage is devastated, as is his grandmother. Not only can Sage not believe they would let the man go, he also can’t help but fear for his own life. When there is a break in at the bookstore, Sage gets even more worried, and as the danger escalates, it is clear that something serious is going on. Between his stepfather and those that want to destroy him for his magic, someone is clearly looking to harm him. Sage wishes he could go to the authorities, but the police seem apathetic and he fears telling magical law enforcement, as that might lead them to discover his true magical abilities. But with danger seemingly around every corner, it is going to take all Sage has to fight off those who want to harm him and continue to find happiness with those he loves.
Fluke and the Faithless Father is the second book in Sam Burn’s fabulous Fantastic Fluke series. I went absolutely crazy for the first book, so I was thrilled to hear that Burns was turning it into a series. One of the things I really loved about Fantastic Fluke was the way Sage goes from isolated and alone to having this wonderful support system of people who love and care for him. I really love these characters and so enjoy watching them all together. There is a great sense of fun and sweetness to these books, even as the situations are intense. And so much of that is the way this group interacts and looks out for each other. I particularly love Sage’s grandmother, who is so much more than meets the eye in many ways. Getting that family connection, after losing pretty much everyone else in his life, was so important to Sage. Plus, Iris is pretty much a kick ass character who I totally love. We also meet a new relation here, which expands Sage’s circle and adds a little fun. So I think Burns once again does a great job building this group and I enjoyed seeing them all work together, as well as to support Sage. I did wish for a little more between Sage and Gideon. Gideon is behind Sage every step of the way, loving and supporting him and willing to step in front of anyone to protect him. And there is a great sweetness between them. But I felt like their relationship takes a bit of a backseat here and I wished for more time seeing the two of them together and interacting.
From a suspense end, this story continues the threads started in the first book, both in terms of the aftermath of the quaesitor’s death, as well as the fact that people still want Sage dead. The intensity ratchets up as more incidents happen and the danger increases. The last portion of the book where Sage faces some serious threats are intense and high octane and really bring a lot to the story. I did wish for more of the magical world building here though, as well as more chances to see Sage (and the other mages) put their magic to work. While Sage’s magic is what incites the threats against him, honestly this could have been a straight contemporary for a lot of at the book and read similarly. So I did wish we had more of a chance to incorporate Burns’ great world building from the first book into this one. Still, the story builds to a nice intensity and comes together well, so I finished quite satisfied.
One of the interesting themes here relates to Sage’s relationship with the two fathers in his life: his biological father, with whom he lived after his mother’s death; and his stepfather, who killed Sage’s mother. Part of the reason Sage’s found family is so critical is because of how both of these men have failed him so badly. We already knew Sage’s father was horrible, and here we see even more examples of how little the man cares for Sage (and even outright tries to harm him). As awful as it is, Sage’s feelings for his father are pretty clear and while he still has the capacity to be hurt, he has pretty much reconciled himself to the situation and is actively trying to find a way to expel his father’s ghost from his life. The really interesting dynamic for me is Sage’s stepfather. The man raised Sage, and he has so many childhood memories of the man loving him, caring for him, and treating him like a true father. That is… before brutally murdering Sage’s mom right in front of him. Sage hates the man, is livid he was let out of jail, and is scared of what he might do. But even with that, part of Sage loves his stepfather nonetheless. The relationship is a really interesting one and it gets explored nicely here as the story develops.
As with the first story, I gobbled this book right up. I just love the tone and the feel of this series. I find it fun and engaging and I really love the characters. This was another great installment and I am very much looking forward to more.