October isn’t the only month where the tree limbs rustle in the chill wind at night, so this review is still very applicable to November. Please enjoy TimNCalifornia’s review of GayAuthors.org author, Cassie Q, and her three-part serial, Not the Sun!
October seemed like a good month for reading supernatural fiction and I knew just where to go looking. Author CassieQ gets excellent reviews on the stories she posts at the GA Stories site. I’ve read some of her shorter fiction and was looking forward to delving into her three part serial, Not the Sun. I wasn’t disappointed. The story starts out strong by introducing us to high school senior, Brandon, a likeable, artsy teenager. He develops an interest in the new kid at school, Justin – an interest he initially perceives as artistic. After all, Justin is part of the perfect clique of untouchables, far from Brandon’s circle of goth friends where the guys have longer hair and more eye liner than the girls. How could the interest be anything more than purely aesthetic? Justin is no more than another sketch in Brandon’s overflowing sketchpad.
Brandon soon learns that his connection to Justin is far deeper and destined to be more complex than he could imagine. Meanwhile, Justin’s interest in and curiosity about Brandon is pointed and explicit. Justin is an Enabler and Brandon is about to learn that he himself is a Creator. Working as a psychic team, they are able to shift objects between parallel realms and realities. It is quickly apparent that they aren’t the only Enabler/Creator team around, and despite their reservations about one another, they are going to need to work together to reverse the havoc caused in their world by a psychic team more practiced, if not more powerful, than themselves.
The young men find themselves contending not only with their newfound psychic abilities, they also are facing up to their emerging sexual interest in one another all whilst dealing with the daily hassle of family and school life as an American teen. The conflicts running through the series are multi-layered and it takes a series the length of Not the Sun to properly develop and support these different elements driving the story forward. CassieQ has a fertile imagination and as the series progresses, we move more and more into a complex, fantastical nexus world. Even as the external conflict intensifies with the psychic teams in the alternate worlds, the internal conflict and character development of Brandon and Justin continues apace.
Book 1, the eponymous Not the Sun, focuses on the early stages of the relationship between Brandon and Justin. In Book 2, aptly titled The In Between, the boys are learning how tightly woven alternate realities are with our own. If you like Stephen King, you’ll like Book 2 of the series which takes place in our own world, but there are strange and threatening forces afoot. Even the sunniest days have a dark shadow lurking. Brandon and Justin are partners in multiple senses of the word but they are learning how to support one another and how to maintain their individuality even as their psychic bond tightens. In Book 3, Jabberwocky, the setting is entirely in and other “nexus” world. Brandon and Justin’s intimacy, psychic and otherwise, has intensified but this intensification in itself challenges them even as it brings them closer.
Overall the pace of the story is lively and there is a good amount of action, particularly in Books 2 and 3. The only quibble I had in the story was the continued personal anguish that set up repeated hurt/comfort scenarios in Jabberwocky. For me, it detracted from the really interesting action happening with the Creator/Enabler teams at that point of the series. That is probably more a function of my personal preference for adventure over angst. Other readers might find the balance more rewarding.
This was a five star read for me though I will qualify that it’s a five star read in the context of its publication format. GA Stories is a home for amateur authors developing their craft. The story has not been professionally edited, and there are places where the structure could benefit from just such a high-level touch. The writing, though, is high quality as is the story telling. I encourage anyone to check out CassieQ’s collection of stories on GA. You’re sure to find something to like.