Rating: 3.75 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Kohmi’s life is unbalanced. His parents lost their lives in a car accident and he’s moved from Seattle to Kentucky to be near his only remaining relative, his half brother, Heiki, who teaches at Kohmi’s new college. And, just last week, Kohmi found a new religion in Wicca. It’s only been six days, but he already has an altar set up, and now he’s joining a Wiccan club to get closer to a boy he has a crush on. He has no idea if the lovely redhead, Morey, likes boys, but Kohmi is still determined to not let the opportunity to find love pass him by.

However, Morey has more than just Kohmi casting eye his way. Kassidy, Kohmi’s roommate and the young man who introduced him to Wiccanism, also has a crush on Morey. The two of them agree to not get in each other’s way or to make a big scene of it, content to be rivals in love. But there’s a third beau in the wings, Jukinson, son of the college president, who is none to happy about anyone else getting anywhere with Morey before he does.

Like Kohmi, Kassidy, and Morey, Jukinson is a witch. Only, he’s practicing dark magic and he has more powerful witches summon demons to keep Kohmi and Kassidy from having a chance with Morey. Unfortunately, the demons aren’t picky, and also attach themselves to Zylon, Jukinson’s brother’s best friend. Guilty, and having second thoughts about using dark magic, Jukinson must work with Zylon to find out how to get rid of the demons before someone gets hurt.

This is a book in two parts, one of which worked for me, one of which didn’t. The weaker storyline is that of Kohmi and his infatuation on Morey. Their chapters are lengthy exposition and info dumps about religion and magic, about how magic is, like prayer, just a way to get into contact with the Divine. There’s talk about tarot cards, grounding oneself, altars, and casting spells and very little about getting to know Morey as a person, beyond that he is a talented witch who gets along with people and doesn’t mind Kohmi’s attention. And he has red hair.

Kohmi is a bundle of insecurity, always doubting, fretting, worrying, and afraid. He moved to Kentucky to be with his half brother, but spends more time talking about magical herbs. His brother, like Morey, is almost more of an idea of family. Kohmi wants the connection, wants the security, but doesn’t want to actually actively pursue getting to know his brother.

On the other hand, Zylon and Jukinson feel much more like developed characters. Both men have grown up with with abuse. As a transman, Jukinson deals with the emotional abuse and threats of physical violence from his father; Zylon is the victim of his parents religious abuse, misgendering, and sexual assault from his father from a young age. They’ve known each other for years, but never knew the dark secrets eating away at each other, and find strength in the shared validation and unquestioning support.

Zylon is angry — angry at his parents for their treatment, angry that he’s being forced to do what he’s told, that he isn’t strong enough to say no, to get away from them and defend himself. Angry that he’s alone and hurting and no one cares, and when Jukinson shows that he does care, Zylon has no idea what to do with that knowledge. With being seen. Jukinson, for all that he’s an asshole, can acknowledge his mistakes and apologize for them, and does the work to try to fix them. He’s had a crush on Zylon for some time, but hasn’t said anything. However, the more Zylon sees Jukinson for who he he, someone who is more than just a clone of his father, the more he opens up and starts flirting.

Jukinson has his father’s name, his father’s major, his father’s sport. He doesn’t have his own name, his own identity, his own path; he’s just his father’s carbon copy, obediently doing what he’s told. The only things he has that have ever been his are magic … and Zylon. When his father makes it clear how he feels about his son dating a transman, Jukinson doesn’t bat an eye, just tells him to go fuck himself — with predictable results, given his father’s temper and need for absolute control. But Jukinson, thanks to Zylon’s support, doesn’t see the need to give into fear, anymore.

The writing feels YA in that it’s clean, spare, with a clear morality and straight forward plot. The message of getting help for problems beyond your abilities, of found families, and falling in love are smoothly handled. The pace is a bit meandering, with the breaks from Zylon and Jukinson’s streamlined story for the solid pauses of Kohmi and Morey learning about magic. Overall, Zylon and Jukinson are the highlight of the book; they’re a well-matched, interesting couple.

It’s a solid paranormal romance, so long as you mind the trigger warnings.