Shattered Dreams by Mychael Black
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Kulisael, also known as Li, is a demon in this sci-fi world going against taboos in having a human as a lover, Cody. However, Li has been keeping that detail about himself from Cody. The opening introduces us to Li and Cody, one year after Cody walked out on Li without an explanation. In that time, Li has been trying to understand why Cody left him just as Li was realizing the depths of his feelings for the human. Cody, for his part, has been out for vengeance, becoming a demon mercenary and killing the demons that attacked him and left him for dead.
Now the two must work together to try and stop a zombie invasion in the east outlands that is infecting humans. As an aside, this was reminiscent of a current popular video game that featured a zombie invasion as an event leading up to the release of its recent expansion. This gave me a laugh and I liked the authors’ sense of humor in this aspect, even if unintended.
Cody and Li head off with a legion of elite demons to stop the invasion, which sets off mixed emotions in both men. The chemistry and attraction is clear, as are the deeper emotions within Cody as he struggles against anger, revenge and pain that threaten to consume him. Cody shows how hatred and revenge can become obsessive, forcing him to lash out against Li.
Clearly both men have made mistakes in their relationship and whether they’ve learned from them is left up to interpretation. They have, however, realized the love and desire they clearly share and the sacrifices needed to make such a relationship work, demanding quite a bit from both men. It’s not an easy path and is complicated by several external factors, weaving a complex story.
The book blurb is cleverly done in that it gives you the background information which sets up the story. This information is slowly trickled out through the course of the book, but in a somewhat confusing way, leaving me wondering if this was a sequel. Apparently, this is a standalone title so knowing the background of the characters and their relationship helps when you’re dropped into a readymade world. There is sparse world building in the story, although the authors clearly have a very well defined idea of the setting and its components so I’m sure we’ll see more of this world, maybe even more of these characters.
The authors have created an intriguing science fiction world, filled with endless possibilities, and chose to reveal a glimpse at two of the inhabitants. There is a lot of information presented in a short amount of time so don’t get lost in the details but let your focus stay on the characters, as it was intended. It’s a story that has a lot of subtleties and will keep me coming back for what bits I missed, like any good sci-fi book.