A paranormal, modern fantasy, romance novel.
Rated NC17, adult - some explicit sexuality.
Thank you reader - more.
I adored Stephen's book "Worlds Apart". I got so caught up in the story and characters that I didn't want it to end. I recommend this to anyone in this group and anyone else interested in mixed beliefs. Peace.
I loved this story which used quite a mix of religious, spiritual, magical, material and environmental relationships in new ways. I had the pleasure of receiving this book from the author to review and didn't want it to end. I am hoping he decides to write another to start a series.
Molly Moblo Perusse Review.
Reviews may contain information that could be considered 'spoilers'. Readers should proceed at their own risk.
Alcina and her coven ask for help as Alcina faces a custody battle for her son. Markus's world is being devoured by chaotic magic, and he believes there's an alternate world that could absorb this magic. He's right, but the solution is not as simple as he first thought, especially as he gets involved with Alcina and her son.
This is the second book I've read by Stephen B. Pearl, and it definitely makes me want to read more. This one is a lot more pointedly negative about Christians (rather than just pro-pagan), but that's mainly because of the nature of the story he's created here. No matter your religion, chances are aspects of this book with make you uncomfortable at the very least. I really appreciate that the author took the time to show, on multiple occasions, that not all Christians are raving lunatic fanatics like the main ones in this story. While he doesn't show that the reverse is true -- that not all pagans or Wiccans are good -- he does seem to render them realistically. He also gives strength to that belief since he makes Underhill and the exodus to it real. For the most part, the pantheon of gods and goddesses are presented as real and really involved in the ceremonies, but then the High Priestess of the main coven says that she believes in the Big Bang and evolution rather than creation by any gods.
Pearl shows that he's done his research and knows his stuff. The magic and spells are well thought out, and I like the use of the Egyptian aspects. I also like that the other world has magic but weak engineering, uses flying carpets, and has vampires and zombies as realistic, everyday parts of society. It creates a viable opposite that is a complement and works toward saving one world from otherwise inevitable destruction. The courtroom scenes are especially powerful and show that Pearl did a lot of careful planning to perfect this. It's humorous and nail-bitingly scary, but I absolutely love that the religious fanatics are forced to tell the truth, which shows how horrible they truly are. It's priceless! Especially since they try to stop themselves by biting their hands and holding their breath and such. I was slightly disappointed that the spell wore off in the midst of Carl's testimony (he's the father of Alcina's son, who is trying to win custody), but it's apparent that that's necessary for the plot. Besides, all the really good stuff happened before Carl got on the stand.
I love all the strong women in this book, especially that one of the two main characters is a strong, smart female (point of fact, there is a strong, lead female on both worlds). However, I couldn't help but be a bit frustrated that she's relegated to a damsel in distress. Aside from needing not one, but two powerful men to rescue her from torture and death, Alcina also needs the Markus's help in just about everything else. The upside is that Markus recognizes, appreciates, and loves her independent, strong, and smart aspects, and that he needs her help as well, though not in the same "rescuing" way. I had a similar issue with the other book I read by Pearl -- strong women, sidelined by the guys -- but this book literally makes Alcina a damsel in distress. That being said I absolutely love the rescue scene! Since he's the other main rival for Alcina, I have some issue with Bill's desire to have a woman as just a housewife, but, like one of the other characters says, at least he's honest about what he wants. I enjoyed reading how his darkness showed, and when he's given a bit of extra power during the rescue scene, it contrasts nicely with Markus's golden fire. The torture and burning scene is hard to read, partially because the realism is scary. The fanaticism itself is terrifying, and props to Pearl for truly capturing it.
Endings can be tricky, and I really like how Pearl ties up all the loose ends and takes care of all the main characters. The romance aspects of this book are wonderfully complex. Many of the characters are going through different stages of love and love-lost, with personalized reactions. This adds a richness to the whole story and the characters.
The writing style is exciting to read and flows very well with easy transitions between the different happenings (including shifting worlds). When things started to ramp up, I couldn't read fast enough. I wanted to know what was happening so badly, but the story needed to show me the other things going on as well. This is one of those books where you reach a point and then have to finish the book in one sitting from there. There are some sex scenes in the book, which are done tastefully, being exciting and intimate without being pornographic. Pearl's website says it will be "PG14, Adult" but the sex scenes push it to more adult than PG14. Also, I did not picture Alcine or Markus to look anything like the people on the cover of the book, and, sadly, it just looks like a romance novel cover while this story is so much more.
Overall, this is a highly enjoyable read. I can't say I would recommend it to everyone though, mainly due to the negative religious aspects. If you're looking for a story where Wicca plays a leading role and is presented in a positive light, you will enjoy this book, especially since it offers a world where magic is what people rely on rather than science. The other world has its own problems, but it seems ideal compared to our world. I would only caution potential readers to be prepared for dealing with reading a realistic, modern-day witch hunt, "trial," and burning, as that's a major part of the plot. Excellent storytelling and characterization made it quite enjoyable. I for one definitely plan to pick up more of Pearl's books and look forward to what he comes up with next.
Grade 8 out of 10.
Markus Tep is a Professor of Magic and a Wizard from an alternate universe. Alcina Woodgrove is a single mother of a small boy, Tim, making a living giving readings and spiritual healings. She is also a witch fighting for custody of her son against her nasty ex-husband. Two people from two separate worlds will come together for a common cause. As the two work together, Markus will attempt to help Alcina keep custody of her son and she will attempt to find a way to get him home. The only problem, despite their best intentions, the two may find that the universe has different plans for them.
Author Pearl gives us a fantasy/romance wrapped in the package of magic, spells, flying carpets, prejudice, alternative lifestyles with a sprinkle of action, humor and maybe even a little life lesson thrown in for good measure. Chock full of interesting characters, in this world and its counterpart, the story moves back and forth between worlds and POV's, flowing easily and smoothly between them all. Alcina and Marcus are both strong, attractive, interesting individuals, both capable of carrying a story on their own; together they make a powerful pair. Their backup cast is just as interesting and all with stories of their own to be told, they lend support and strength both to our heroes and their tale.
When Marcus finds himself in Alcina's world unable to speak the language or understand the culture, Alcina is his salvation. She takes this strange man, who literally falls into her circle, into her home and her life. Trusting him not only in her home but with the safety of her son, she will risk much to help him get home. Marcus' world is dying and he has a theory that travelling between alternative worlds is not only possible but that it's his world's salvation. All he has to do is prove it, so he takes the leap of faith, making himself an outlaw and putting his friends in danger. Soon after Alcina takes Marcus in, he learns she is in a bitter custody battle with her ex-husband Carl, who is a hardcore Christian and feels Alcina's Wiccan religion, is bound to send both her and their son straight to Hades.
While Marcus is away in this universe, back a home his best friend Professor Wilbur Bell is fighting to not only help get him home but keep him out of jail once he is back. Wilbur gets help from Marcus' ex-fiancé turned vampire Debby and her blood slave Paula. Their universe is a mixture of modern and archaic. They ride around on magic carpets yet they have no computers, the universities teach magic and vampires and zombies walk amongst the living. While I found this world interesting I'll admit to a bit of confusion now and again and there were times in the beginning of the story that we got some technical lectures that just made my eyes gloss over.
Back on earth, Alcina is supported by her coven lead by her best friend Beth and her husband Phil, who just so happens to be a math wiz, which will come in handy in discovering a way to get Marcus home. The coven's summoner/bodyguard Bill provides the muscle needed when Carl and his cohorts get out of hand. Alcina's son Tim is a breath of fresh air, a smart little boy who understands his mother's religion and sees more than adults might give him credit for, he will be the teacher of all things Earth for Marcus.
This was a fun, scary, sexy, fascinating story. I loved getting glimpses of Marcus' world, and for a non-lover of fantasy that says a lot. There were action scenes where our intrepid band of witches have to chase the bad guys and on the alternate universe where our group of magic users have to thwart the authorities. There is a little bit of violence and some bedroom scenes, which make this a story for the mature audience but lovers of fantasy, action or romance will find themselves immersed in Alcina and Markus' story.
4 out of 5 stars.
Penelope Adams Paranormal Romance Guild Review.
Copyright © 2009, Stephen B. Pearl by GISjoy