Rathod and Kerr’s novel is a fantastical coming-of-age story about a 16-year-old named Howard.
When Howard learns that he has magical abilities—and Rathod and Kerr portray his exploration of his newfound power in very real terms—his life changes. Growing up in an orphanage, the Boy’s Home, Howard knows little of his family background and lineage. The day he discovers his supernatural talents, he accidentally performs a healing spell on an injured child at the Home. The discoveries only get more complex and unique when Howard meets the beautiful and exotic Elisa at the mall. After an encounter in the parking lot with a group of men dressed in black, driving black SUVs and shooting bullets that mysteriously disappear, Howard and Elisa are thrown together in an effort to save their lives. Once it’s been established that the two hail from the same magical realm, they set off on a quest that begins with questions (“Well, what do we do now?”), evolves into confessions (“You want to know the truth? Here it is. I’m a Venefican and I’ve been a magic user my whole life.”) and is finally ignited when the two (along with Elisa’s boyfriend, Jack) begin their search for the Verity Fire. However, the Verity Fire, which Elisa understands will help them prove their worth and save them from becoming prey or victim to the men who tried to chase them down in the mall parking lot, is not easily accessible. First, they don’t know where the fire is located. Second, it is a highly protected source of information. And finally, Howard and Elisa are busy avoiding the men from the mall. It turns out that those men are the Ferreters who, Elisa tells Howard, are determined to destroy the Venefican community because of century-old conflicts that go from the Ancient Egyptians to World War II. Rathod and Kerr have created a believable and compelling character with Howard, our narrator, and Elisa. Howard is sympathetic, authentic and filled with a confusion and awe for this new surreal dimension. The truth about the Ferreters and the Verity Fire is, it turns out, far more complicated than Howard or Elisa could have expected—and this is at the heart of both the story’s journey and its end. The novel uses the discovery of inner power as a tidy metaphor for growing up, while telling an intricately plotted sci-fi tale.
Takes the reader on a gripping journey filled with unexpected twists and turns; a fun, smart read.