Having enjoyed Goode’s Foster High novels, which are firmly grounded in reality, I was intrigued as to how he would tackle something more fantastical. Much as I suspected, he pulls it off brilliantly. This first installment in the Lords of Arcadia series has two boys from utterly different worlds exploring an unlikely but powerful attraction, while danger closes in on them from all sides. Magic, intense emotion, and fast-pace action have been brought together to create a book I found to be both original and compulsive reading.

Kane Vess might be gay, but in Athens, Iowa, where popularity is dictated by a person’s outlandishness, he is thought dull. One day at school, however, his ordinary existence is shattered when he almost collides with the new boy in the corridor. Captivated by the stranger’s extraordinary beauty, Kane is anxious to learn more of him. The revelation that Hawk is an exile from another realm turns out to be just the beginning. Kane hasn’t spent long in his company before he makes two discoveries. For one thing, they share an immediate affinity that defies understanding. For another, hanging around with Hawk could cost Kane his life.

Fleeing those who would either use or kill him for his royal status, Hawk seeks refuge on Earth with his changeling bodyguard. He has a low opinion of his new home, considering it both mundane and incomprehensible…that is, until he meets Kane. It doesn’t matter that Kane is a human with no special powers, or that he is a commoner far beneath his own station. Hawk is instantly drawn to him in a way he can’t ignore. But as they take the first tentative steps towards building a relationship, the forces that drove Hawk from his homeland are catching up with him, and even Hawk’s enhanced abilities might not be enough to save them.

I have to say, what really brought this book to life for me was the humor. The miscommunication between the heroes as they struggle to decipher one another’s languages, often with hilarious results, had me laughing out loud throughout. Yet, despite the vast differences in their culture and upbringing, the spark that leaps between the two boys from the outset is undeniable, and it was a pleasure to watch it grow. Moreover, this novel ends on a cliffhanger that will surely leave any reader desperate to know what happens next.

If you’re looking for a young adult fantasy that combines action with plenty of humor and romance, I can highly recommend this book.

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Written for Rainbow Book Reviews and first published on Blogcritics

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