Published By: Pan Macmillan
Released On: 01/09/2022
Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.
Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road, the boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.
Ox was seventeen when he found out the boy’s secret, and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.
Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces. It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.
Thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.
I absolutely adore T.J Klune’s writing, it’s absolutely gorgeous. Sadly, whilst I still think very highly of his talent, this book didn’t hit the mark for me. And at 576 pages, it’s well over 200 pages more than my ideal book length. I didn’t think it would matter as I love his work so much, but I did find it drawn out in places and far too long.
It’s not got the same feeling as the others of his I’ve read. It still has the love and the magic and that overwhelming feeling of being an outsider, but for me, it’s got a very different tone and didn’t match up to previous. My favourite of his is “Under the Whispering Door” and I can’t fully explain why, it’s just perfect in every way.
If I didn’t know better, I’d have said this was his first book. It’s missing something that made his other books superior, it doesn’t feel as accomplished.
The whole Ox/Joe relationship is the key to this book and yet I found it uncomfortable. It’s not about their age difference or anything like that. I just got no chemistry from them at all and it all felt forced and a bit stilted.
I was definitely getting Twilight vibes – and reading a few other early reviews, I can see I’m not the only one. That’s not necessarily a good or a bad thing, but I’m not sure it’s what he would have been aiming for.
I love his writing generally, the way he depicts love is gorgeous, but I found the prose in this one cringy and awkward and very repetitive. It felt too busy but at the same time, it dragged on and felt like not much was actually happening.
The writing style, the format is very lyrical, with irregular prose and whilst this was a nice touch at first, I soon became tired of it and wished for “boring” “normal” prose. It would flow better for me and I wouldn’t be distracted by the sentence structure, and instead would be focussed on the story itself.
I know there are some among us who don’t want to read about a same-sex relationship (bizarre to me, but each to their own), but where I think Klune really excels is in depicting love that’s for everyone. I’m not reading a “gay love story”, I’m just reading a love story between two people who just so happen to be of the same gender and he handles it beautifully. I could read his writings about love and relationships forever.
I’m not actually sure there were any characters I really liked, except perhaps Gordo. They were too forced but not fully formed.
I believe this is meant to be the start of a new series. As much as I love his work, I won’t be reading the next instalments. I think his shorter, standalone books are better. His previous stories filled me with joy and you get this glow from them, but this one just annoyed me. I found myself continually checking what page I was on and how much I had left.
Having said all that, nothing takes away from his ability as a storyteller to write fantastic love stories.