Title: A Stroke of Brilliance
Series: Arcane Hearts: Book Two
Author: Nazri Noor
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 275 Pages
Category: Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense
Rating: 4 Stars
At a Glance: With a wink and a little cheek and a lot of sincerity, Jackson Pryde brings readers along with him for some fun and adventure in a world of magic and lore and loads of fantastical danger.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: The fragrance of chaos. The flavor of terror. The color of madness.
Jackson Pryde and Xander Wright are loving a life of hunting and harvesting rare reagents wherever the Black Market travels. But a routine trip to visit Japanese tree spirits turns up something sinister: two crystal shards, embedded in the bodies of wild animals. They’re familiar, glimmering, violet… like splinters of amethyst.
But that’s not all. Two rival guilds are in strife, Jack and Xander caught in a crossfire of spells and slander. SEER and its hundred eyes are still watching their every move. And then there’s the matter of meeting Xander’s parents, perhaps Jackson’s deadliest challenge to date.
The Chrysanthemyst’s return is the least of their problems.
Review: “Little by little, Xander and I were going to save the world.”
Jackson Pryde is such a great narrator—charming, playful, and optimistic. His belief that he and his boyfriend, Xander Wright, are going to save the world isn’t hubris; it’s Jackson believing in belief, it’s his pride in being a Pryde, and because he has so much faith in himself, and in Xander, and in most people in general, I have all the faith in them that they’re going to continue to do great things.
The world building in A Stroke of Brilliance continues to impress. The Black Market is, at least in my mind, sort of like a roulette wheel. The Market spins one way, the ball that is the earth spins the other, and where you’ll land when you step out isn’t necessarily random chance, but it seems like a fun way to see the world. The various magics that exist in the Black Market are such a fantastic mixed bag of abilities and talents, and Jackson’s abilities as an artificer, while the craft has lost some of the respect his parents knew before a tragic accident took them from him, is beginning to gain momentum, and I can’t wait to see where it takes him in the next book, An Iron Fist. The iron fist in question is going through some things, some changes, and it’s all thanks to Jackson. The explosion that took his parents very well may have left some clues behind, and if SEER, in general, and enforcer Reza Arshad, specifically, will stop mucking about and interfering, finding one missing item in particular will yield some interesting information.
This book carries on where A Touch of Fever left off, in a continuation of the mysterious origins and existence of the Chrysanthemyst and its deadly pedals, in their different, but still deadly, form. The imagination that goes into describing the scenes in which these characters—not just Jackson and Xander, but friends and allies too—fight off the results of what the wickedly dangerous shards become is plentiful and fantastic. I loved the Japanese lore in this installment of the series, as well as getting another peek at a couple of the Guilds we didn’t see in the first book. The guild master of the Thousand Hands, Kaoru Minamimoto, and his magic, was nothing less than badass. It’s the Ringing Hollow, however, that are in trouble, and the imperative for Jackson, Xander, and company is to figure out what’s going on before chaos prevails.
On the personal front, Jackson and Xander’s relationship is on full speed ahead. They’re so sweet together and so great for, and too, each other, and while Xander’s parents are a treat (no, they’re not), and Xander is working through some things, the little family of friends Xander has found with Jackson are filling in brilliantly. And if you’d asked me before reading this book whether I could be emotionally moved by an AI (artificer’s intelligence), Jackson’s sort of surrogate parent, Lore, I’d have said no. And I’d have been dead wrong.
I’m in the habit of reading fantasy that falls on the darker side of the genre, which is one of the several reasons this series feels so fresh and unique to me. Jackson isn’t afraid to break the fourth wall a little and make sure his audience, with a wink and a little cheek and a lot of sincerity, is on board for his adventures. I’m sure more strange things are afoot for him and Xander and company, and I’m looking forward to finding out what that is.
You can buy A Stroke of Brilliance here:
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