We read and review for the love and joy of books.
Genre: MM paranormal
Another masterful creation of other-world beings and dark creatures from the highly imaginative mind of Rhys Ford. This is not an M/M romance, however, there are elements of M/M romance contained within the body of the story. It is more of a fantasy, but is definitely heavy on the side of horror. If you don’t like blood and gore in your stories, you may want to pass on this one. But think twice before doing that because this story is well worth going along for the adventure. And, if you enjoy experiencing the artistic creativity of an exceedingly inventive author, this is the one for you.
Our hero, so to speak, is a young man named Kismet Andreas who is an artist, drug user, and loner. Living in a rundown hotel room, Kismet’s only companion is the ghost of his long-dead younger brother, Chase. As his addiction gets more pronounced, Kismet begins to see more than just Chase— he sees beings and creatures lurking in the shadows, ugly creatures that seem to want to suck the blood and the sanity out of him. Seeing those creatures exponentially increases his need for his heroin fix, and the cycle continues.
Unknown to Kismet, however, a magus named Beckett is supplying Kismet’s heroin and using him as a guinea pig while perfecting a formula to break through to the other world beyond the shadows—a world inhabited by immortal beings and other creatures. He knows this because his experiments with black magic led him to discover Faith, one of the four virtues, when the Veil between the worlds weakened and he was able to see the ethereal beauty. They’ve since fallen in love, so he is working to perfect his formula for immortality to cement their plans to be together permanently.
Faith slipped Beckett a magic recipe book, for lack of a better term, which allowed him to expand his experiments with ways to see beyond the Veil—the name given to the curtain that separates the human from the spirit world; the curtain that keeps the monsters at bay; and the world which is policed by the Four Horsemen: Death, War, Famine, and Pestilence. The Horsemen exist between the Veil and the mortal world, bound to their immortal roles in helping mankind.
Not all the Horsemen have alternate human names, but Pestilence is known to the others as Mal. He’s the youngest, most inexperienced, and has the sweetest nature of them all. When Mal is attacked in the human world by one of Beckett’s puppets who was sent to kidnap Kismet, it’s Kismet who steps forward to save Mal. Later, when Kismet accompanies the Horsemen as they go behind the Veil, he finds himself trying to understand the world he has discovered. Though Mal helps him in some ways, it’s Death he asks about his brother, wanting to know why his ghost is still lingering on the human side. Death explains that “ghosts are souls who are trapped inside of the Veil. It’s like a curtain that we can peel back so we can be seen, but it’s usually always there.”
Trying to solve the mystery of how it’s possible Kismet has been able to see beyond the Veil and eventually even come through it to the other side, while remaining human, Death is the only one who reaches the conclusion that it may be related to the drugs in his system, and he realizes he needs to look into Kismet’s dealer more closely.
The adventure ultimately takes Mal and Kismet to the brink of disaster a second time later in the story, when it is Mal’s turn to save Kismet’s life, while the Four battle dark Fae who were summoned to eradicate the Horsemen and bring Kismet back to Beckett.
The story is very complex, but the author takes the time to explain details as we go along. There’s never too much, as she always stops just before information overload stage, and she reinforces what we learn along the way. This will be the first in a series, and as such, it’s the foundation for us to understand this world of immortal beings and dark creatures that haunt the night. I believe it’s going to be a heck of a ride for those who stay with the series and so much better than any of us may have ever been able to imagine.
If you like paranormal, mystery, fantasy, alt universe, horror, and science fiction, I believe this story has more than enough of each to keep you satisfied. As I said in the beginning, however, it is not a romance so please don’t go into it hoping for a sweet romantic read with a HEA because you’ll be disappointed. This is certainly a powerhouse for those looking to stretch their imaginations. By all means, don’t hesitate to pick this one up.