Lightning Rod (Broken Mirrors, Book 2) by Vaughn R. Demont ~ Book Review by Lirtle

lightning-rod-cover-1Title: Lightning Rod (Broken Mirrors, Book 2)

Author: Vaughn R. Demont

Publisher: Samhain

Cover Artist: Angela Waters

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Publication Date: 10/09/2012

Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)

Genre: Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe/Alternate World, Fantasy, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Blurb:

Always stand. Never fall.

Broken Mirrors, Book 2

If I could offer one piece of advice now, as I fall past the eighty-fourth floor of Victory Tower, with the sky above me the swirling eye of a crimson hurricane, the blade of a goddess stuck in my thigh, and a man I used to love preparing to end the world, it would be this: Magic is not the answer to your problems.

Sorcerers have always been feared in the City, their origins as unknown as the nature and extent of their power. When James Black, a young man fleeing an abusive lover, becomes a sorcerer, his old life is erased from existence, and his new life is indebted to powerful entities.

Escaping the man who abused him was supposed to be the end, but the very magic that freed him has put him on a collision course with the gods and the Sorcerer King himself.

And only one of them can survive.

Product Warnings

This is a work of urban fantasy featuring a gay male protagonist, with a romantic subplot and focus on magic, dragons, tricksters, sorcerers, and survival of domestic abuse. Please adjust expectations accordingly.

My View:

The way this story begins, I was wearing my “WTF” face, no joke. We’re dropped right into the fray, emotions and bodies flying this way and that. My “WTF” face was accompanied by a slight grin and, huh, I wonder if this, whatever ‘this’ is, will succeed.

I decided I wanted to find out.

I’m thrilled I made that choice by chapter two. That WTF feeling, a result of extreme randomness, started morphing into OMG, no way. I was feeling the desperation, the confusion, fragile hope, and the drive to survive. I was feeling Miles, and how deeply he was being scarred by life, while having no clue about what was to come. I was already wishing for his safety and happiness.

A bit of time passes and we get James. He’s experiencing what could be described as rescue, but at a great cost. Could he live with that? Could he change it? All the while, my emotional investment was being matched by the high level of creativity.

And the writing, yo, the writing.

”They’re red dragons. They wouldn’t save me.”

The voice behind the screen gets a  bit huffy. “And why is that?”

“They’re red dragons. They’re evil.”

A silver-scaled snout pokes over the top of the screen, a plume of smoke issuing from his nostrils with a snort. “Now that’s just racist. I’ve got two cousins who’re reds that donate to Greenpeace.”

This passage demonstrates the modern world accoutrement that fills in the layers of magic, paranormal (granted, it’s all normal to them), olde world rules and mysterious creatures, some created millennia ago, and fabled enemies that inform most of the emotion experienced while reading this story.

There are some disjointed junctures throughout this story, some major points that turn on a dime or life-altering events that seem to be ignored in the immediate aftermath. That some of them do get a payoff later on is great, but the impact of those resolutions is somewhat dampened.

But then I’d remember “dragons” and let it go.

Demont once again does so well in tossing about the cultural references and, not just in offhanded comments or snarky comebacks but, the roles they’ve played in molding some of these characters and their personalities, and approaches to living life.

This story feels to me like the author is exploring themes, like grief, changing perspective, trust, loss, self-worth and whether you have it, lose it, or want it, and how to go about getting it, how it’s not always pretty while it’s happening. This book, compared to Coyote’s Creed, felt more internalized in some ways, particularly with James being our narrator throughout.

Possibly the most enjoyable, and realistic, relationship portrayed in this story is the friendship shared between James and Dave. I think it’s safe to say that, for each of them, one is the other’s best friend in a long time, maybe ever. They care about each other, want to look out for one another and actually do it, going beyond just declaration. They know each other pretty well and it shows in a number of rewarding ways.

Somewhere around the halfway point and this story hops off the rails somewhat. A catastrophic event, brought about by one or more characters, is deemed nearly impossible to conquer. Ok, I can understand that, unintended consequences and all, but still. Further, one of the major supporting characters keeps popping up again and again and again, always bringing death and anguish with him, stymieing a lot of the progress made throughout the story, at least for me. By the sixth or so time, I was done. One too many times to that well did we go. And, except for a single reference, we’re never really told why he feels so strongly the way he does, his motivation never adequately explained. His gleeful spewing of the hate and physical violence became an unnecessary frustration. You guys know me, I try not to judge characters, as they are all living and making their own decisions about their realities – ‘good guy’ shouldn’t be treated any more favorably than ‘bad guy’, in my world. I think I’m more passing judgement on the usage of him more than I am for how often he upends James at every important turn.

I’m also dubious of the way a major character from book one, Coyote’s Creed, is used. For most of his page time, until the end, he’s portrayed by mostly highlighting his less important characteristics. It feels like he was carrying around a sign saying “sidekick here” and could therefore be treated casually, which doesn’t fit his character at all.

Despite this final lament, most of the scenes between that character and James are impactful, exciting, and kept me riveted. Make of that what you will. I would love to see more of that partnership developed. Is it even possible?
This book was an uneven ride, even herky jerky here and there, but I still enjoyed more than I didn’t. And I sure as heck will continue on in the series with book three, Community Service (Broken Mirrors 3). Oh and the title of this book, and the next? I had to laugh at myself as to how long it took me to figure out the references. 😀

Links

Lightning Rod (Broken Mirrors, Book 2) on Goodreads
Samhain
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
All Romance eBooks

This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.

Farewell Giveaway
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,

Brandilyn
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