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The Jealous Flock

The Jealous Flock: A Literary Epic in Miniature, 2017 by [Borodin, Ashley]3 Stars

The Jealous Flock by Ashley Borodin is a realistic fiction story that centers around the slightly strained relationship of a married couple and their lives as individuals in partnership and their young adult son. The narrative drops readers directly into the lives of the characters featured and lets you explore their lives and innermost thoughts as they struggle with identity and the maturing of unique ideas. Heavily geared towards deep thinking, challenging societal ideals, and the mass acceptance of those who are different, The Jealous Flock is a story that is designed to open the audience’s mind and heart and think outside of the box.

What seems to be an ordinary, white picket fence family in England takes the spotlight in a vivid narrative from each character’s point of view. Hints of tension between Doris and Martin, a married couple both caught up in their jobs, play their part on their son John who is beginning to phase into his adult life from that of a teenager. As Martin travels to Afghanistan to help stop a potential blood bath with jihadists, Doris is left at home to struggle through the differences in her personal opinions and morals as they pertain to her career in the law as a PR agent. Meanwhile, left behind in his parents own crisis, John quits his respectable job and flees overseas where he hopes to find himself and pursue his passion for photography. In Australia, he follows the steps of his father in participating in protests that aren’t always peaceful to defend Muslims battling hate and discrimination. Here he meets Randall, an unhappy widower pursuing an unusual relationship with a transgender prostitute who is stuck in her own shell of self-hatred.

The relationships in The Jealous Flock are realistic and relatable, breathing life into the characters both on their own and in harmony with their counterparts. The story takes on a political drive with themes of racism, xenophobia, and sexism as strong elements in the plot. Dynamics between the father and son of this story are particularly captivating, as Borodin manages to catch those meaningful moments that happen during the shift from parent to lifelong friend and mentor.

Ashley Borodin makes a strong call to arms to fight against society’s expectation of us in any walk of life. In a way, the author has created a coming-of-age story not just for young adults but for those in later years as well. This story dives deep into your thoughts and twists open the cap on unique thinking and encourages ideas of change and acceptance. The graphic, bold way that the author takes depression and insecurities relatable to everyone is a refreshing breath of life and gives you the chance to realize that you are more than what a shallow skin can provide for you. Though a bit wordy and emotionally daunting, Borodin transcribes a striking narrative that has the ability to strike the hearts of those who yearn for something more than mundane life.

Pages: 66 | ASIN: B01NAPZWB8

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Liefdom | A Tale From Perilisc

Liefdom: A Tale from Perilisc4 StarsOne tough thing about writing fantasy books is that the reader doesn’t show up already knowing what’s possible. This genre is set in a world of mythical creatures and magic, by definition being completely different than our own.

Liefdom is one such book, centered around the conflicted and hyper violent fairy, Gentry Mandrake. The book is written in a sparse and compelling style, one that keeps the action flowing from page to page but sometimes manages to pass over exposition that might connect the reader to the circumstances and stakes of the conflict at hand. It’s subtitle is “A Tale From Perilisc”, Perilisc being the fictional universe in which the author Jesse Teller sets many of his books, and as such the book is a bit tricky to follow for readers who are not already familiar with the author’s broader world.

This is a challenge for the genre in general, not for Liefdom in particular – indeed its focused prose style proves to be one of its strongest assets, keeping the reader engaged and entertained even when the action itself isn’t abundantly clear. The murkiness just comes with the territory; what are the limits of magic in general and for any given fight in particular? Could a hero or villain use magic to get themselves out of a scrape or are they in real trouble? The answers to these issues and more may be obvious to fans of the genre and of this series in particular, but setting an entire story in a universe where magic isn’t peripheral or incidental (like in Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones) but is instead foundational to the existence of the entire cast of the book may make the story opaque and forbidding to the uninitiated newcomer.

The story itself is brisk and full of action, violent action. The plot starts with a birth and a bang and very rarely lets up, barely given the reader any room  to breathe. Almost every character in the story finds themselves the subject of some form of brutal torture at some point or another, the hero most of all. It feels like more than half the book is devoted to describing some form or feeling of pain. That said, though, it never feels like too much – the book is well-crafted enough such that the constant presence of pain feels unrelenting rather than overdone.

Plot-wise, no narrative acrobatics really present themselves. Gentry Mandrake is Different and Talented and must make peace with his Difference to use his Talents to save those he loves and indeed the broader world, facing both rejection and scorn at home and unfathomable all-consuming evil when he walks out the front door. There’s plenty of fantastic magic, shape-shifting and aura fights and threats of immortality, all compelling and fun.

In all, Liefdom is a strongly written book with a pleasant plot that features an extraordinary amount of violence and pain in a way that never becomes overbearing. If all of that sounds like your cup of tea then you’ll probably feel right at home.

Pages: 255 | ASIN: B01FWP8WS4

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