No, I’m not talking about something shaped like a curve or a bow, and I didn’t misspell Noah’s lifeboat. This kind of ARC is an acronym for an Advanced Reader Copy – that is, a book that isn’t yet available to the general public, but offered by the author for review to a select few.
Well, guess what? I’m one of the select few! The select proud! The— never mind, I’m not a Marine, select or otherwise. But I was graciously given an ARC of a novel, and so do I hereby fulfill my end of the bargain. Behold my review of…
Genre: Thriller/Suspense, with Fantasy elements.
Blurb (because I seem to be incapable of just saying, “It’s about X and Y, and then Z happens.” Oh, no, I’ve gotta be all authorial about it): Robbie Lake is itching to escape everyday life. A Hawaii vacation seems just the ticket, until the unexpected loss of his job sends that plan right out the window. But when one door to escape closes, what should open but… a box. A seemingly ordinary cardboard box with the extraordinary power to transport Robbie into Reveloin, the world of dreams he’s long forgotten. The world, however, remembers Robbie, and needs him to save it from the dark terrors that have taken over in his absence. But when restoring life to Reveloin means turning his back on his own life as husband and father, Robbie must decide which reality holds the bigger claim to his heart… before he loses both.
My Thoughts: I was warned beforehand that the fantasy world portion of this book would bear similarities to “King Kong”. That was not false advertising. Expect dinosaurs and giant creepy-crawlies. And if that kind of thing scares you, then you’re like me, which means you’ll go ahead and read the book anyway, with no one to blame but yourself for all the flinching you’ll do.
Anxious as I felt during some of the Reveloin scenes, though, it was the parts of the book that took place outside of the box that absorbed me the most; the parts where he struggled to connect with his kids, be there for his wife (who, I gotta say, was a real champ throughout this story), and deal with his estranged father. My reaction surprised me, given the amount of my time dedicated to my own fantasy world(s) vs. that often humdrum thing we call reality. (Sti-i-iill waiting on my cross-dimensional portal, folks…) Part of me didn’t blame Robbie one bit for wanting to ditch his family responsibilities in favor of adventuring with friends that felt less and less imaginary as time went on. But the rest of me, home to that bothersome mature side of mine, understood where Robbie’s loyalties lay – or ought to have lain, and I wanted to shake him to his senses and make him get his priorities in line. Hugely flawed yet sympathetic protagonists: Gotta love/hate ‘em.
I had some issues with the plot’s timing through much of the book’s first two sections – big moments kind of hurried past, and lesser moments dragging a bit long – but once I hit Part III, there was no going to bed until I’d reached the end. The suspense had me on the edge of my seat with worry about how everyone was going to get out of this, heart thumping out of control the whole time, except for that one minute where it almost stopped because… yeah, right; Deshipley doesn’t do spoilers; mum’s the word.
HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): Well, if you’ve missed the boat on getting an ARC (see what I did there? And still not throwing fruit at me? Bless you), then you’ll have to wait for the book to come out, first. To keep abreast of the release date and other info, go check out “The Man in the Box” on Facebook, and/or follow author Andrew Toy on his blog (which is where I first connected with him), Adopting James. Feel free to lose yourself in the fantasy, readers. Just be sure you don’t lose your way back…