Hello everyone, do you like to read? Personally, I love it. I read subtitles daily! But in all seriousness, there’s a unique magic to getting yourself lost in a good book, one that I wish I had more time for, to be honest. So I’m going to extend the experience a bit by telling you about a book I recently finished.
As some of you may know, I’ve only ever reviewed one book on this blog. It was, in fact, a novella called A Trust to Follow. Therefore, it’s fitting that today I am going to talk about Kaidyn’s Courage which happens to be the second book in the Wild Magics series.
First, let me give you the full personal context so you can appreciate where I’m coming from. Disclosure and all that. Diana Waters, the author of these books, approached me when A Trust to Follow was coming out and offered to give me a free copy in exchange for a review. Not a positive review mind you, just an honest post to tell my readers about it. She had confidence in her work and had read enough of my posts to be fairly sure I would enjoy it.
I was extremely flattered and essentially turned her down. I decided I preferred to buy my own copy and see if I wanted to post about it afterwards. If you missed it, you can see what I thought here. Ok, I’ll just tell you. I quite liked it and asked Diana to let me know when the next novel would be out. Which she did about a month ago. Once again, I was happy to buy my copy. This review took me a while to get out, not because of the book itself, it’s just been crazy busy up here!
I still don’t know how to review books exactly. I feel like they are even more vulnerable than anime to having their plot revealed. Here is the official synopsis:
When one man’s courage is lost to his own anger, another will try to rekindle it—no matter the cost.
Kaidyn is the son of the queen and a trainee officer in the kingdom of Sareen. He is also a Half-Blood—his father is from Iskandir, a neighboring kingdom which has been at war with Sareen for many years. Bitter and angry at the prejudice he faces, Kaidyn meets Sorin, a healer from one of Sareen’s most prominent noble families. As their relationship deepens, the war between Sareen and Iskandir grows worse. Not only will the pair inevitably become involved with the conflict one way or another, but Sorin is also hiding a secret, and time is running out for them both.
As you may have guessed, much like Trust, this one isn’t for the kiddies. It’s full-fledged erotica which centers on a relationship between two men. This said it is much more of an emotional tale that explores a tender relationship rather than a torrid love affair. Still, if love scenes between men are a big no-no for you, this may not be your book. But to call it simply a Yaoi book is extremely reductive.
Although I don’t talk about it much here, I read a lot of fanfiction and doujin. Which means that I inevitably run into erotica of all genres on a pretty regular basis and have developed a critical eye for it. Like most art, it’s not as easy as it may seem.
I want to get this out of the way. I may not be a specialist in the genre since most of what I’ve read is in the fan category, but I’ve noticed that the quality of the writing itself (as opposed to the story) can vary widely. A lot of popular works leave something to be desired in craftsmanship and I think the genre is unfairly regarded as a generally lower form if writing where you can get away with weaker prose.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that has discouraged some authors from getting into the genre at all or from taking it seriously. Not so for Diana Waters. When you strip away (Hur Hur. Get it? Strip? Oh wait I haven’t gotten to the joke yet) the layers of eroticism and explicit scenes, you still have a solid fantasy novel on your hands, with detailed world building and complex characters with coherent internal logic. Honestly, why is it so difficult to write people that react like well…people. I’m very happy to report Kadyn and Sorin do. And because of that, their relationship makes sense.
And speaking of relationship. It’s not as if we can really leave it out. I know I just said to strip it away, but make no mistake, it’s an important element of the story. Central even. And writing good romantic fiction is tricky. This one is on the sweet romantic side. I know, I usually balk at love stories but there’s something really endearing about how Kadyn and Sorin get to know each other. Besides, there’s very little of those traditional romance contrivances that usually get on my nerves.
This goes back to creating characters that are more than paper thin fantasies or simple self-inserts. When you have properly fleshed out people, it starts to be more difficult to make them act like brain-damaged morons without it being very noticeable. Sorry, that sounded harsh. I may have some hang-ups. This is why I was so happy this novel avoided the pitfalls.
In the interest of fairness, I will give you some of the less enjoyable aspects as well. The novel is paced well but it can be a bit abrupt at times. I would have liked to have a few more details on Kadyn’s past and background. Kadyn is the point of view character and you experience the story through his eye, as such getting to know him well really helps you understand and interpret everything that’s happening. Sorin stays a bit more mysterious because we never get the same intimate bond of seeing through his eyes, but I found that to make him more appealing.
Diana is still a young writer. As far as I know, Kadyn’s Courage is her first full-fledged novel. And this youth has its pros and cons. You can see the excitement and care she’s put into the work. She is undoubtedly talented and the novel is more technically proficient than what I’m used to in the genre (there I go, spreading those nasty prejudices again!). But with inexperience comes a certain lack of confidence, both in one’s self and in the readers. There’s a tendency to really explain everything very clearly in order to avoid confusion or maybe to help the writer keep their thoughts in line which occasionally weighed down the text a bit. In one or two scenes, I got the impression the author was holding back. Not that this book isn’t spicy!
Let me put it this way, if your only experience with romance novels aimed at women is from 50 shades of Grey, you will find that Kadyn’s Courage is both much better written and in my opinion, much sexier. I definitely recommend it for anyone looking to add a bit of excitement to their reading list. Or anyone looking for a good classical fantasy novel. Heck, suggest it to your book club and tell us all about it. I bet it will make for some great anecdotes!
Before I leave, if a good read is not enough to entice you. Let me remind you that it’s a great idea to support aspiring authors. Instead of not getting a fancy coffee, keeping the arts going is a worthy investment in my book!
Get your own copy of Kadyn’s Courage