Bound by Alan Baxter
Publisher’s Description: Alex Caine, a fighter by trade, is drawn into a world he never knew existed – a world he wishes he’d never found.
Alex Caine is a martial artist fighting in illegal cage matches. His powerful secret weapon is an unnatural vision that allows him to see his opponents’ moves before they know their intentions themselves. An enigmatic Englishman, Patrick Welby, approaches Alex after a fight and reveals, ‘I know your secret.’ Welby shows Alex how to unleash a breathtaking realm of magic and power, drawing him into a mind-bending adventure beyond his control. And control is something Alex values above all else… A cursed grimoire binds Alex to Uthentia, a chaotic Fey godling, who leads him towards chaos and murder, an urge Alex finds harder and harder to resist. Befriended by Silhouette, a monstrous Kin beauty, Alex sets out to recover the only things that will free him – the shards of the Darak. But that powerful stone also has the potential to unleash a catastrophe which could mean the end of the world as we know it.
No additional spoilers beyond those in the Publisher’s Description.
This is a fast paced thrill ride that doesn’t pull punches. In fact it throws them – frequently. Alex Caine has a power that gives him an edge over his opponents in the ring, but his real power is that of his own will. He doesn’t back down unless he is forced to, and even then he does so grudgingly. This is important, as it makes his decisions during the events that unfold easier to accept. It certainly hit the fan for Alex Caine, as they say, and I’m happy to have been along for the ride.
The Good: The writing is rooted, comfortable; dialog was distinct between characters and descriptions were satisfactory without being wordy. Bound reads fast, and like many urban fantasy novels, does so to it’s credit.
The magic system is refreshing. There are no wands being wielded, no long-winded rituals. There is willpower and one’s ability to harness it. Alex has willpower in spades but he doesn’t want the new power he gains, despite knowing he must figure out how to use it or die. The battle in his mind is as real for him as the physical battles with his foes.
Baxter describes the supernatural by introducing the Kin, one of whom named Silhouette plays a major role in the story. In the world Baxter has crafted, the Kin are the reasons we have legends of vampires, werewolves, etc. They live among us, hidden, and can take many forms. This is described well and draws the reader into accepting the lore with ease. Thankfully while much of humankind’s supernatural lore may be attributed to them, we soon come to find out there is more behind the veil.
It seems Baxter was heavily influenced by the Cthulu stories crafted by H.P. Lovecraft. I reveled in the similarities and how Baxter managed to bring the horror of Lovecraftian lore and weave it into his own world and characters. While Bound is not a horror novel, nor do I think it will present a reader any fright, it’s there beneath the surface on a personal, psychological level for Alex Caine.
There is no single enemy in Bound. Allies are not cookie-cutter reliable. Alex faces supernatural threats alongside normal ones, all throughout.
The Bad: While character progression and depth is present, the novel is so fast paced that it may seem lacking to some. There simply isn’t much downtime for the characters to have any deep conversations, but what time they do have provids us insight into Alex’s past, and brief glimpses into Silhouette’s. It left me with a strong hope for more character development from the next entry.
The incredible fast pace of Book 1 resolved a story that could have been an epic on its own, in a single entry. I have a lingering worry that the pace will slow inappropriately, or the challenges seem trite following the events of Bound because of this. In the end, we will just have to wait and see.
The Conclusion: While I welcome and embrace novels that do not censure the language of the characters, do know that there is plenty of swearing present in Bound. There are also many references to sex, but it is rarely given much page space; it’s present, but not a focus. Bound is fast. It is action packed. It is intense.
I loved Bound and am greatly looking forward to continuing my adventure with Alex and Silhouette in Book 2. I highly recommend giving it a go!
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