Spinning by Jaime Samms
Ken has fallen in love twice in his unnaturally long life. He’s spent the rest of it trying to forget what falling out of it feels like. Not even the end of civilization has distracted him from his own misery, and now, desperate and achingly lonely, he calls the one person who’s never hung up on him.
Mikko lost Ken once, letting life get in the way of love, and ever since the day Ken ran, he’s been trying to track him down. He’s honed his skills over the years, tracking Ken through the morass of men and ugly affairs, waiting for the chance to make things right.
Ken thinks his messy past is a secret from Mikko, and is too ashamed to admit any of it. Mikko has secrets of his own, things he’s discovered about their very nature he’s sure Ken’s not ready to hear. Back together, after years of cat and mouse, Ken has to learn to trust a man he knows isn’t telling him everything, and Mikko has to figure out how to fix something his own negligence might have destroyed beyond hope of repair.
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Spinning is a very unusual, gripping tale. It features some fascinating characters, a gritty intriguing urban fantasy setting and some classic relationship problems. The writing is once again top notch, as expected of Samms, and the emotion connects with the reader immediately. The only qualms I have are that the story is too short and it ends right in the middle with a dangling ending and no real resolution. In fact I almost wrote the publisher to ask if the ending had been mistakenly cut off. I hope there is a sequel or some kind of revisit to these characters to give them a more solid ending but either way, this is another great offering from a good author.
The blurb is technically true but I find it’s more obscure and doesn’t describe the story very well. Ken is something called an Ageless. He and others have somehow escaped the end of the world natural disasters that happened hundreds of years ago. For no real reason, these people have ceased to age and can outlive most horrific disasters. They’re not immortal but they seem immune to many of the dangers ravaging the world. Ken was once in love with another Ageless called Mikko. They were together for six years and just starting to explore Ken’s need for control and domination when Mikko became involved with a political action group and turned his focus away from Ken. With Ken’s black depression overwhelming him, he runs away and begins a series of destructive, harmful relationships trying to find the control he craves.
Throughout Ken’s destructive path, he continues to call Mikko as the one constant in his life. Giving few details and staying on the run, Ken nevertheless can’t quite sever his ties to the man he loved first. When Ken hits rock bottom, he finally allows Mikko to find and help him. However, the help is not what Ken thought it would be and the past still has powerful ties on both men.
The story is incredibly engaging and filled with drama. However the deft touch to the writing keeps the pace moving quickly and interesting without an overwhelming feeling of angst and despair. Instead the urban fantasy setting is well crafted and intricate, weaving details in without long descriptions. Some of the details are not well described and thus the short length (~40 pgs) puts this great premise at a severe disadvantage. The author’s vision is clear but not always translated to the story with the same focus. Some of the concepts would have benefited from more explanation and description as they come across slightly confusing and without context.
The characters on the other hand are really stunning. I loved the depth of emotion Ken displays as a broken, scared man who is running from himself and his needs. He craves the control because his emotional needs often overwhelm and plunge him into deep depressions. With the right man, he functions much better. His need is handled so well, straddling the line of depression and fear without letting Ken become dark or pathetic. Instead he’s fascinating, complicated, broken, strong, and sympathetic all at once. Likewise Mikko is also a complex character and he remains a mystery for most of the book. His motives however are clear and his love for Ken is really striking. There is a scene towards the end when Mikko describes what he hopes to gain from helping Ken. Here Mikko acknowledges that he’s helping Ken even if it means that Ken will leave him and return to a previous lover, but Mikko is ok with that because he loves Ken that much, that deeply, that truly he just wants Ken to be ok. It’s an incredible scene filled with emotion and one of many great moments of this story.
If anything is less than perfect in this story, the ambiguous ending left me frustrated. I wanted to know what happened and the narrative seems to end in the middle. There’s so much more to these men, their journey, and resolution that I can only assume there has to be more stories coming. Nothing feels concluded or ended, which left me on an odd, disappointed note after an engaging story. This entire short story could have been expanded into a much longer, more involved tale so the length is also a frustration. It feels too cramped, too abbreviated in the current form. Nonetheless, I highly recommend checking out this short story.
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