By Cynthia Ayala
Cedric, the crowned prince of Caelum, has found himself in LA, a very long way from home via a magical portal. Bu the portal is locked on Earth and Liv, an aspiring filmmaker and foster girl who wants nothing more than to escape the endless system, may be his only help. But the pair of them are getting more than they bargained for.
One if the aspects that makes this a strong novel is Liv. Why? Because she’s a foster kid and the protagonist. Liv is a strong protagonist whose strength comes from her sadness, her eagerness to escape the harsh reality that has separated her from her family. It’s what makes her strong and it’s what makes this an interesting story to read about. It also brings out some of the realism in the story, a level of realism that could otherwise fall apart without her. She breaks the barriers of the fantasy meets reality aspect of the story in a very strong way. She’s not predicable, she’s realistic and sees the world in a different way given her need for escape. It’s the perfect balance for Cedric, the more stoic character, and creates a strong dynamic between the characters. These characters are both so different yet alike in very deep ways and together they keep the pace of the novel moving forward. They engage the reader with their perspectives and different outlooks on the world. A single moment is taken and expanded upon by their internal narratives that work to build the world and the story around them.
As for the story, itself, it’s creative. It takes place in Los Angeles of all places, and the imagery and atmosphere take the reader there. Klingele worked hard to put her use of language to good use. The noises, the world, the city, it’s put together so well that the reader can believe that they are there. The smells and sights brought out by the narrative work to put the reader in the scene beautifully, working to ground the reader in the plot.
Admittedly, the plot is somewhat predictable even if the characters are not. There are elements of the story that foreshadow certain plot points. But that’s only if the reader is paying attention to the story and the small details. Klingele used small details to build the tension up and they hint towards some powerful moments later in the book. It’s what makes the novel so enthralling. The tension and the pacing of the language work together to build this premise that, while not unique, offers up something interesting for the reader.
Overall, it’s an exciting novel with interesting characters all of which are held together wonderfully by amazing writing. There is such attention to detail and attention to characterization that makes this one of those breathtaking novels. (★★★★☆ | B+)