Gentry Mandrake was born different. He was a fey, but, neither beautiful nor delicate. He flies to his family yearning for love, but, is met with rejection at every turn. The darkness inside him that scares him and tantalizes him in equal degree is yawning wide and as the world of man begins to dip perilously close to hell, he has to decide whether to protect his innocence in The Veil or enter the darkness like the warrior he was born to be.
Firstly, credit where credit’s due: this book saved me from an excruciatingly boring evening. I could lose myself in its intense climax and forget all about being hungry, angry and stuck in a crowded place.
Also, that summary I gave above doesn’t really do justice to the actual novel. That is because, I confess here, it’s really too complex for a blurb. The story runs on parallel levels that might seem a little intimidating in the beginning, but, comes together quite well in the final 100 pages.
Also, also, warnings! Apparently, a pinch of sadism is in vogue nowadays. There were quite a few narrations in the book that made me grimace and draw into myself. They made for meaty additions to the overall atmosphere of the story, though. So, I might just forgive their gruesomeness. (I’m still considering).
As Liefdom is a fantasy novel, my first thoughts always go to the world-building. Jesse Teller has done a bang-on job of that. The world is complete, complex and three-dimensional. It should have been an easy draw for me. However, the language is a little flowery, tad dramatic. While dramatic dialogue and prose can be used excellently to build-up to a climax or to a confrontation, when it’s being used throughout the story, it’s a little tiring. So, even apart from my annoyingly interruptive academic schedule, I sometimes needed to take a break before going on to the next chapter.
Ooh! Speaking of chapters! Time skips are incorporated in between chapters. Again, while sometimes it’s used extremely well to establish the fast pace of the narrative, at times, it just felt rushed; like there had been a few passages bridging the last chapter to the next that were struck out by an over-zealous editor. (Especially Mandrake’s transformations later in the book).
But, there was so much to like in this book. The vivid descriptions of the world- the clarity of the author shines through the most in the clarity of his world-, the concept which is so unique (and we are all starving for unique), and a special mention has to be given to the description and use of magic in this book- I loved it! The smell of brimstone that always hung on the wizards, the use of incantations that slice through the air, the aura build up that precedes a cast and the things it is used for- I loved it all. Magic felt like an art rather than like wishful thinking.
BOTTOMLINE: This book is for adult fantasy lovers. There’s the variety of creatures, there’s the powerful magic, there’s some hell and demons and some love and romance. It has all the staples of a good fantasy encased within an original story, a completely new world and written in dopamine-worthy dramatic prose. So, if you’re a fantasy lover in search of a new lore with a non-abrupt, closure-bestowing ending, then, this is for you. Check it out.