Title: Silent One
Author: Kari Jo Spear
Cover Artist: Alessia Brio
Publisher: Torquere Press
Buy Link: Amazon
Genre: Contemporary M/M, Young Adult, SF/Fantasy
Length: 198 pages / 56000 words
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by jeayci
Review Summary: An engrossing story that seemed to be an m/m twist of some of the classic sf/fantasy novels I read as a kid.
Blurb: Gareth’s life is violent, frightening, and lonely. Abandoned by his parents and left to a series of harsh foster homes, he becomes as tough as the scar on his cheek. Death and destruction follow him. Sometimes, it actually seems like people are trying to kill him. By the time Gareth is in high school, friends are a luxury he can do without.
But deep inside, Gareth is tender, compassionate, and very gay. The only living soul Gareth lets into his heart is a silent young man who keeps saving his life. Every time Gareth gets a good look at his guardian, the man mysteriously vanishes. Does he even exist? Gareth isn’t sure, until the day at school when his world implodes. Teachers suddenly know way more about him than they should. His secret guardian lies wounded on the darkroom floor. Before Gareth knows it, he and his guardian are on the run. Not only is Gareth more important than he ever dreamed, but the future of an entire planet depends on him. It’s going to take all the courage and love Gareth has to face his destiny.
Review: I downloaded the excerpt from Amazon to see if I wanted to read and review something by a new-to-me author. I took it as a very good sign that I didn’t want to stop reading when the excerpt came to an end! I couldn’t wait to get the whole book so I could finally find out what happened next. I’m delighted to say that it lived up to the expectations set by the excerpt. I barely put it down until I’d finished it, and each time I had to, I’d find myself thinking about it until I was able to get back to it.
I was impressed by Gareth, overcoming so much with such grace; he even named a rescue dog ‘Hope’. I think the blurb did a good job of describing him, without giving too much away. He was very much who I expected him to be. I loved that his ambition was to become a teacher, to make a career of educating and helping kids like himself. His love of books and learning was something I could very much relate to, which may also have helped me like him more. We’re shown from the very beginning that this is a kid with a great heart and a good head on his shoulders, characteristics which turned out to be essential for him and the world whose future depended on him.
Something about this book – perhaps the way the sf/fantasy, romance, and real-world elements were woven together – reminded me of Andre Norton. She was one of my favorite authors in my sf/fantasy-drenched child- and young-adulthood. She’s generally considered one of the masters of the genre, so that comparison is quite an accolade. I thought the fantasy elements were believably entwined with the everyday world. Gareth seemed to me to have an appropriate level of questioning, followed by an appropriate acceptance of things outside the everyday norm. Growing up with a guardian angel, it made sense to me that it wouldn’t take him too long to believe that “there are more things in heaven and earth” than he’d previously dreamed. But he still asked the sort of questions I thought were realistic upon learning that things were not as they seemed. Like I said, good head on his shoulders.
I also thought his reactions were believable when he learned that the future of a planet depended on him. Talk about major – and unexpected – responsibility! He asked great questions and took the time necessary to think things through and make sure it made sense to him. I particularly loved the scenes when he was learning another language. I found them to be realistic and very well done. And the romance between him and Aranth had a believable and heart-warming buildup and culmination.
The only thing that kept me from rating it 5 stars were a few little things here and there that struck me as odd. Like a motel that conveniently had amenities I usually only find at hotels, if then. And although Aranth was a generally likable character, I found some of his behavior a little obnoxiously over the top at times. And at one point I found it unrealistic how quickly and extremely Gareth doubted something, and then how quickly and with how little reassurance he turned around and suddenly believed. But these were minor niggles, and overall I loved the story.
This was the first book I read by this author, but it definitely won’t be the last!