James is a true seer, which means that he, unlike most everyone else, knows that the demihumans and pocket dimensions everywhere are not part of this world. He’s done his best to avoid everything “not normal,” including getting a job as a barista, as “watering holes” are anchored in reality. Not that the world going on around him isn’t real, but it isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. But most people have succumbed to the Mandela effect and believe that magical beings and pocket dimensions have always existed. James knows better.
Despite his desire to be normal and steer clear of anything magical, when Arthur, the mysterious bartender, gives James the love lock ring to wear, he does. It’s supposed to bring him his love. But in quick succession, three suitors emerge: a dragon riding knight, Sir Brian; an ex turned lion, Manuel; and a sloppy, normal bear of a man Bradley. James wants normal, but he’s also enticed by Manuel’s newfound riches and Papa Lion Cooper, who runs the pride. Sir Brian, however, claims James is the one he’s always been waiting for, that James is destined to be his partner, and the forcefulness makes James run.
In the midst of this, there is a herald who marks the beginning of an ascension. Magic is forcing people to transform as the ascension grows closer. James is visited by an angel that gives him prophecy that he must choose. But things go horribly wrong, and the ascension is twisted in a dark way. Even worse, James makes a decision, but it goes against what’s in his heart. He tries to run from his destiny, but it comes calling anyway. And it’s only with his newfound powers that there’s a possibility that he can stop the threats that could destroy the city.
This book makes mention of the chaos of the world and, for me, that’s what this book is. Chaotic. It suffers from a lack of defined world building. And while that is, I believe, to an extent intentional, it also makes it hard to really fall into the story. Things change between pages, much is left unsaid, and it left me feeling a little unmoored. It’s not easy to navigate a story like this when even the MC’s motivation is unclear.
James is endearing to a degree, but though this story is told through his POV, there are times I was left drawing my own conclusions. His thought processes weren’t clearly described, so even though it seemed like he was against certain things, he would be doing them anyway. It took time to realize that he was doing what he felt he should, or what he felt would get him away from what he didn’t think he should have. At times, it felt like the story only went surface deep and considering what James is facing and what all is going on, that didn’t wholly work for me.
There is a happening here and the author used humor to good effect throughout a lot of the story. It wasn’t always my type of humor, but I could objectively appreciate what LeMay seemed to be going for. As I mentioned, the story gets chaotic in places and it takes some comprehensive thinking to sort it out. The problem with this was that, for me, it felt like I was drawing my own conclusions about certain plot points when it should have been made clear. Essentially, I was assigning my own thoughts and motivations to points when instead, I should have been following the MC in his journey. This didn’t work well for me all the time, and I wasn’t as engaged in the story as I wanted to be.
The story is populated with a lot of interesting secondary characters, which definitely added to its charm and elevated the book for me. James doesn’t have a lot of friends, but the people that are in his life add a lot of color that went a long way for me. The chemistry between James and his ultimate love interest is lackluster at best, and the reader has to rely on the fated aspect of it to go along with it. Toward the end, I was more on board with their relationship, but for most of the novel I struggled to understand why James would be attached. This harkens back to the lack of defined narrative that I felt throughout this story.
One other problem I had with this story was the rampant typos and punctuation errors. Often words were missing letters or used the wrong letters. Incorrect words used in place of correct ones. This book clearly needed a copyediting pass it didn’t get. On top of that, there were a plethora of missing commas and other punctuation marks that were glaringly obvious throughout the tale. I’m always willing to ignore some typos as I know they slip through even the best editing, but this was beyond that and the resulting novel suffered for it.
All in all, this story had it’s moments. The premise on it’s own was clever and intriguing, and there were times when I really got into it. But the aforementioned problems pulled me from the story time and again. I’d hesitate to recommend this book unless the premise really grabs you and you go into reading it aware of the possible problems.