Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Larissa’s Review of Haffling by Caleb James

Caleb James
Dreamspinner Press, July 11, 2013 | 274 pages

Author’s Facebook | Goodreads | Buy book here

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title
All sixteen-year-old Alex Nevus wants is to be two years older and become his sister Alice’s legal guardian. That, and he’d like his first kiss, preferably with Jerod Haynes, the straight boy with the beautiful girlfriend and the perfect life. Sadly, wanting something and getting it are very different. Strapped with a mentally ill mother, Alex fears for his own sanity. Having a fairy on his shoulder only he can see doesn't help, and his mom's schizophrenia places him and Alice in constant jeopardy of being carted back into foster care.

When Alex's mother goes missing, everything falls apart. Frantic, he tracks her to a remote corner of Manhattan and is transported to another dimension—the land of the Unsee, the realm of the Fey. There he finds his mother held captive by the power-mad Queen May and learns he is half-human and half-fey—a Haffling.
As Alex’s human world is being destroyed, the Unsee is being devoured by a ravenous mist. Fey is vanishing, and May needs to cross into the human world. She needs something only Alex can provide, and she will stop at nothing to possess it… to possess him..

Genre & Keywords: Young Adult, M/M, Urban Fantasy, Fey, Coming Of Age, Angst, Care For Younger Sibling, First Romance, Fairies

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 1 out of 3 flames

Reviewed by Lis/Larissa:

A book featuring the Fey in New York and an unlikely hero – a boy down on his luck – and a possible romance? Yup, that sure is one I'd love to read and I wasn't disappointed with Haffling by author Caleb James who seems new to the genre.

There is a lot going on in this story. It's a story about coming of age, coming out (in a way) and first love. It's also a story full of action, adventure, drama, angst and just plain surviving, which for sixteen-year-old Alex Nevus isn't always all that easy, but he sure does a hell of a good job.

He not only has a mother who is diagnosed with schizophrenia, but he also has an honest to God fairy on his shoulder and the care for his eleven-year-old-sister Alice. It's a fight to stay on top with all the organizations gunning for him.

Alex is an admirable character. He's strong, inventive, smart, caring and protective and he does his best under circumstances no sixteen-year-old should be in. There were times in this book where I just wanted to hug him and tell him it would be all right. This is where the strength of this story lies. Apart from the plot, it is Alex who carries this story. I also love Jerod, who is just as smart as Alex, laid-back and caring and – fortunately for Alex – is also tenacious.

The plot with the Unsee and Alex's mother and learning the truth of his mother's illness and his heritage is solid for the first half of this story. Well written and well thought out and very original. I liked the use of technology in this story as it befits the age of the characters. Not many authors use a lot of technology in their stories. There is also the twist on the Fey and the mixing of myths and legends that give this story a kick-ass vibe.

However, the second half of the story has a rushed quality. A lot seems to come into play and not a lot of pages to work it out. As I understand it, this is the first story in a series, so there are elements that will be returning in future stories (as it should be), but there are a number of plot angles – in particular the ending – that were just too rushed (and that I would have liked to see more of) or too over the top.

Haffling is a truly fantastic story that captures the age category very well on top of a wicked story. I for one can't wait to see more of this series, be it with Alex and his gang in the lead or a different angle. An author who thinks up amphibious GPS is just to precious to let slide from my radar.

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  1. Hi Larissa:

    Thanks so much for the review. I adored writing this book and can't wait for the second. Will definitely use your feedback. Endings are a bitch, and trying to bring the book up for a climax and in for a landing at the same time, is tricky. Sadly, I'm immersed in a clinical book right now, and have to get a mystery off under my other name--Charles Atkins--to my British publisher (Severn). The second in this series probably won't get written until fall 2014, but it's already swimming in my head.

    1. Hi Charles,

      Thanks for the reply! :-) I'm marking my calendar for next year and look forward to reading the second book! Good luck with all your other projects!


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