Author: KJ Pedersen
Length: 56,489 words
Genre: M/M Contemporary Paranormal Horror Romance
Heat: 3 – Mild & Sexy
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Young Adult Characters, Bisexual, Homophobia, Religious Mythology, Drinking/Drug Use (weed), High School, Hawaii, Closeted/Coming Out
Rating: Not Feelin’ It
Reviewed by Sadonna
Josiah Halden’s life is coming apart. He’s an athletic, handsome high school senior bound for college. He should be on top of the world. Instead, he’s struggling with his sexuality and nursing a crush on John from his gym class, and he’s plagued by nightmares and impossible visions of the night his parents died—visions he fears are an early indicator of the mental illness that runs in his family.
But the nightmares are part of something more sinister than madness, something linked to the strange black iron idol of a Caananite warrior-god Josiah inherited from his father, which keeps showing up in his dreams. Josiah’s friend Makani insists the statue is “wrong”—but that’s ridiculous, isn’t it? After all, it’s only a statue….
When it took me several days to read this book, I knew that something definitely was not working for me. The opening prologue was quite unsettling. It read like something from a horror novel, which is a genre that I avoid like the plague. This did not bode well. What follows is a book that seemed to me to be very confused as to what it wants to be when it grows up. Horror? Coming of age/coming out? Paranormal? Religious/alien mythology? There were so many elements and so many things going on that I found myself trying to keep up with the various threads of the book and ultimately not really caring about any of them.
The main story is about a boy, Josiah Halden, whose British parents were brutally murdered and the culprit was never caught. He has been raised by his aunt and uncle on the Big Island of Hawaii (a really lovely place that you should try to visit), which is the setting of this story. He is a senior in high school and he’s in the “popular” jock crowd but he’s got a secret that is causing him a lot of angst. He is definitely not straight and he’s getting some grief from his friends. On top of that, he is on his own while his aunt and uncle are away and he’s having horrible nightmares that seem to be linked to a mysterious statue that he inherited from his parents. He is also attracted to a boy in his class, John, who is new from mainland. His friends are giving John a really hard time and he also has an awful home life that includes a lazy homophobic father. John is attracted to Josiah as well, but he is terrified of anyone knowing that he might be gay.
Josiah also has a good friend Makani who he had grown distant from over the years, but they seem to be rekindling their friendship – which has had a sexual component. Makani is also good friends with John and especially John’s younger brother. There is quite a bit of conflict with these different groups of friends for Josiah and he tries to walk the line and keep friendly with all of them. The stress of this social pressure and the nightmares are making Josiah think he is going crazy and since there is a family history, he is really concerned. He confides his concerns to Makani who tries to calm him.
Interspersed in this narrative of Josiah’s life is this ongoing “history” of the origin of the statue in question. This statue seems to be the source of the bad things that happen. I have to say that part of the story held zero interest for me. I just wanted to get through it and get on with the story. Ultimately there is a tragedy that devastates all of the boys and there is a confrontation that was pretty unbelievable to me and finally it was over.
While the population of this novel is mainly young adults (high school age boys 18 and under), I was a little surprised by the amount of underage drinking, drug use and casual sex that takes place. I know it has not been marketed as Young Adult, nor should it be for these reasons. In the end, this story just didn’t work for me on any level.