David R Slayton
Completed 2/19/2024, Reviewed 2/19/2024
I am loving this Adam Binder series. This book continues the rural fantasy adventures of Adam Binder, a gay warlock from Oklahoma who is trying to save his family from an evil Druid. It is a well-written, suspenseful tale that is grounded in issues like poverty, drug addiction, abuse, and homophobia, despite the whimsical title. There are good elves, bad elves, and even Death makes an appearance. I read this book in a day and a half, thanks to the long President’s Day weekend. Looking at the number of reads on Goodreads, this has nearly five thousand ratings. While respectable for a small novel, I really believe this should have a much wider audience. I think it’s that good.
WARNING: Spoilers for the first novel to follow.
Adam speeds back to Guthrie, Oklahoma when he finds out that his Aunt Sue has died. When he arrives, he finds that his cousin Noreen and her daughter Jodi have moved into Sue’s trailer. The trailer suddenly explodes and Adam saves Noreen and Jodi is missing. While saving his cousin, he sees an apparition of the evil Druid who seems to be murdering his way through the Binder family. Adam’s mother and brother show up, more accepting of his mage status after saving Denver. Together they try to unravel the mystery of who the Druid is and who the next victim will be.
In the meantime, Adam’s new boyfriend, Vic, also travels to Guthrie, but with Argent, the Queen Elf of Swords. They get sidetracked by an attack from the Sea Elves. They try to infiltrate their domain, the Sea Upon the Land, only to find that their mission is to wipe out humanity because of the mishandling of the environment. When Vic finally gets to Guthrie, he finds out some family secrets that cause him to question his ability to trust Adam, something he needs if he is going to continue pursuing this relationship. Besides, as a newly appointed Reaper, he needs to understand more about the Other Side than Adam has told him so far.
Adam’s maturation process is at the forefront of this novel. He has reached some sense of reconciliation with his mother and brother. He must rely on and nurture those relationships to succeed in this quest to destroy the Druid. He must also become much more trusting of the bond between himself and Vic. He still is afraid to give himself totally to the relationship. He must learn that he’s lovable, worthwhile, and unique in a good way.
While Vic was only seen through Adam’s eyes in the first book, we actually get Vic’s perspective in this one. We see him struggle with his bisexuality and the recent death of his own father from cancer. His family dynamic is very different from Adam’s, but he still has his own self-doubts and frustrations from the people around him. Some of it is a little humorous as he tries to understand the Argent the Elf Queen and the Other Side. On top of this, he’s trying to figure out what it means to be a Reaper.
The magic system in this book continues to be interesting and detailed. The nice thing about it is that Adam is not that powerful, so it doesn’t require a whole lot of explanation. It doesn’t get so complicated to lose the suspension of disbelief. The Other Side, that is, the land of the Fae, on the other hand, gets more complex with the introduction of the Sea Elves. But it’s pretty straight-forward and believable, while at the same time still awesome and awe-striking.
I give this book four stars out of five. It is so entertaining and engrossing that I am glad there’s one more book in the series. I love Adam and Vic and their character arcs. I want to see them survive the crazy things thrown at them and then make it as a couple. Perhaps I am a hopeless romantic, but I can’t wait until the next book to see them succeed, assuming they do. I would be heartbroken if they didn’t. Regardless of the outcome, I can’t wait to read the next book, which will hopefully be next week.