Author: M. L. Tishner
Publication date: October 22, 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Summary: Rei lives in a backwater town on Earth, dreaming of the day she can avenge her older brother Niklaryn’s death at the hands of Infiernen, an instrument of the Dominion. On the side of the Federation, who holds there are multiple gods while the rapidly spreading Dominion preaches one god, Rei quickly learns she is just as hunted as her brother had been, and that she is a god reincarnated, one of several. Meeting up with her fellow gods isn’t the hard part; working to end the war between the Dominion and the Federation in the way they need to is.
This was an interesting mix of science fiction and fantasy. There’s interstellar travel and magic wielded by powerful beings that Earth has deemed gods. I loved that this book had an interesting back story for how the gods manifested and became gods to the people of Earth. There was also a clash between those who believed in these multiple gods and those who would squash that idea and who support a single true god. Despite these factions and the focus of the story being the clash between the Dominion and Federation, there is nothing really overtly religious about it. Instead, it added an interesting twist.
Most fantasy books make you wait and wait and wait for key information to be revealed. When this book started dropping hints, I expected to have to wait until the last quarter of the book to find out what was so important in those first few chapters. I was so pleasantly surprised to not be kept waiting. The reader gets all the important bits of information, but it trickles in as necessary. It diffuses tension, certainly, but it also allows the reader to actually breath and focus on other parts of the story instead of constantly wondering what’s so special about Rei. Well, it turned out her specialness was very important to the story and absolutely needed to be told.
The other thing I was absolutely in love with was how the author handled the romance. Most romance in any genre typically follows the pattern found in a standard romance novel: girl meets boy, girl and boy fall madly in love, something prevents their romance, they break up, they make up, and they live happily ever after. So boring, so predictable. I was afraid Rei’s romance with the aloof Bronx would go the same way. I was very pleasantly surprised to find the opposite. Oh, there are definitely very understandable barriers to them being together, but, instead of giving up, they actually found ways to foster a deeper, more emotional connection. Give me a moment here while I just swoon while remembering it. Ahem. The one part I felt on the fence about regarding their romance was the insta-love. I’m not a fan, but love at first sight stories in the real world do exist and, while I’m not fond of the idea of Rei and Bonx’s previous lives impacting their present romance, it actually worked here. Usually the romance feels forced, but Rei and Bronx just had such a beautiful chemistry.
Oh, yes, the previous lives. The description mentions reincarnated gods and many of the characters the reader encounters are these reincarnated gods. It added another nice layer to the Dominion and Federation war, but I also felt like that older story wasn’t discussed as much as it should have been. The book focuses on the present and gives just enough back story to ensure the present makes sense. But I got the feeling there was a deeper, richer tapestry of stories that really bound the gods together that the reader might appreciate for depth and richness, but doesn’t get. It would have been really nice to get more of the back stories as I think it might have better informed the reincarnated gods’ decisions and movements better.
My only other criticism is to be taken with a grain of salt as what I read is an Advance Reader Copy, so the final copy might be different. But what bothered me the most was the overall lack of polish. There was definitely more tell than show and it bothered me how Rei would think of something and tell the reader exactly what she was thinking and what her plans were instead of letting the reader piece it together by reading how she behaves and reacts to the other characters. It made her character feel juvenile. But I look forward to see how she develops throughout the series.
Overall, this was a surprisingly quick read. The characters were mostly engaging and the setting supported the story extremely well. Due to one character’s powers, it felt like the story was more plot-driven, but it was interesting to see how the character’s choices led to the outcome anyways. This is the first book in a series. It very nicely sets up the series, but is still a fully contained novel with one story that reaches its completion. It just leaves a door open for a second book.
How many cups of tea will you need?
4 cups of tea should do.
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Thank you to the author, M. L. Tishner, for a free advance e-copy. All opinions expressed are my own.