Author: Varian Krylov
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: Bey Deckard
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 08/06/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: M/M Romance
Strange, quiet Luka doesn’t live in this world; long ago he took refuge in his art, escaping into surreal mindscapes inspired by his favorite painters. In the beautifully monstrous realms of his imagination, he is safe from the pain of his losses: his family, his friends, his hope.
Until war breaks out, and he is forced to flee the only home he’s known since he was thirteen.
Captured by an enemy soldier, young Luka is marched across brutal terrain, toward a fate known only by the bearded menace holding him prisoner. Quick with a knife, tireless and strong, Tarik guards the purpose of his mission as he takes Luka deeper and deeper into enemy territory.
When the soldier discovers the painful secret he has been hiding since childhood, Luka fears he is about to endure a new kind of cruelty, worse than being abandoned, ostracized or beaten. Or is it possible the soldier holding Luka prisoner is the one person who isn’t afraid of the truth behind Luka’s silence and lies?
This review is had me in a pickle for a couple of days, Iv’e been bouncing around between ratings and still feel a little undecided. This is a rich, enthralling and beautifully written story about the devastation and ugliness of war and the people trying to survive it yet I felt detached from it most of the way through.
We meet Luka who is doing the best he can in difficult circumstances. Sent away from his home and family at just thirteen he hides his real self and feels shame and embarrassment about his feelings for other boys. Every time someone suspects that Luka may be gay he ends up hurt or lonely. The older he gets the more he keeps himself repressed. He works in a barber shop and has just enrolled for some art classes, art being his first love, when his world becomes a much more dangerous place filled with hate and armed soldiers. Ethnic war is dirty, dangerous and unfair and Luka is in the wrong place at the wrong time. As he leaves his home for the last time and ends up in a refugee camp things take a turn for the worse and he ends up beaten half to death and left outside to die.
Tarik is a soldier from the other side but disagrees with a war that sees him killing people for no good reason. With his own very personal reasons he has gone AWOL and is making his way to something far more important. When he finds Luka in a cave he believes he has captured a Bokan soldier but looks are deceiving. Tarik doesn’t want to kill Luka but he can’t let him go and he finds himself in the odd position of wanting to protect the young man. They set off an odd trek across hostile lands that brings them closer together as they try to work each other out.
Trust is slow coming but it does come eventually. Neither man is who the other initially assumes and soon they are in a battle to keep each other alive whilst trying to escape the lunacy and brutality of war around them, the fact that they should be enemies and not lovers is not lost on them. Tarik has gone from having one goal to now needing to keep Luka safe and the hurdles put in front of them get more and more difficult.
This is a poignant story but I really didn’t connect with Luka and Tarik as a couple until almost the end of the book. Life was too hard for them, there was too much fear between them and at points I just wanted to wrap Luka up. Their story is obviously not finished but I do hope things ease up for them in their next chapter.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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