***** Supernatural Entanglements, by Helen Forest

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The cutest dang thing that ever arrived for me in the mail was that author’s debut novel with cute handwritten note and origami 🙂

Chinatsu is sick of court, the vying of the nobles and his mother’s stifling dictates.

Abdicating in favour of his younger brother, he quits the royal palace to take up the duties of his father’s line as Keeper of the Southern Ward.

But administering the spiritual needs of his parishioners leads Chinatsu to consult with a man whose reputed madness hides more secrets than he can imagine. Secrets that will pull Chinatsu into a world unseen and turn everything he knows upside down…

So, Helen Forest is an amazing author and I cannot wait for the second novel in this serie. If I could give it more than five stars I would. This story has been with me for a long time, and it is very dear to my heart.

Let me tell you a story. I remember reading the first drafts of this online when I was in high school, on the old family computer with dial-up internet. I was only allowed half an hour of internet per day, so as to not take up too much phone line time, and so choosing to spend that internet time reading this story was a serious commitment. I didn’t speak english super well back then, and I frequently had to stop and research words. This was a level of writing that I had never encountered before, and I was hooked!

When I learned that it was going to be published as an actual, paper book, I knew that I had to buy it. I actually had to deal directly with the author to ship it to me from Australia all the way to Canada, but I don’t regret it one bit! I devoured the whole thing in two days, and I barely slept! Since, I have actually reread it twice. Although now that I have had a few years to think about this, and now that I am also preparing to market my own first novel, I do wonder why Supernatural Entanglements isn’t available as an ebook. I want to rec it to all of my friends, dammit!
I love everything about this book. Helen Forest knows how to build a mistery, and she’s one of the best when it comes to writing tension and mood in a scene. The universe that she has created is deep and full of interesting little details, and it’s a universe unlike any that I have seen in other fantasy books. It’s original and well thought-out and I would love to read more about it.

A lot of fantasy books go the way of ‘european medieval’, which can be well done but also tends to be overdone, or cliche. In this book, the author has created a brilliant mix of european, japanese, and other eastern influences that makes the world both intriguing and a rich background for the main drama of the book.

The story mixes suspense and supernatural investigation with a more complex storyline of court intrigue, as well as setting the ever so subtle basis for what I assume will be a very, very slow burn romance further down the line.

The characters are definitely Helen Forest’s strenght. Everyone of them shines and jumps out of the page, and the slow character development is to die for. Even though the first book was published in 2014 and we do not yet know the release date for the second book, I’m in it for the long haul!

A must-read, and must-re-read. This book is like slipping into a warm bath. It’s like comfort food. Once more, this is a story that is very character based (just like I like them!), but it also has enough action to satisfy readers that are looking for a good, well balanced plot.

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