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Release Day Review: Incubus Honeymoon, by August Li

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IncubusHoneymoon

Book Info

Book Series
Arcana Imperii, Book 1
Authors
About the Author
August Li plays every game as a mage. He thinks the closest thing to magic outside of games and fantasy is to bring things into existence from nothing, which he does in words and images. As a proud trans man, he hopes to bring diversity and representation to all those who want to see themselves in the art and stories they enjoy. He’s a perfectionist, travel enthusiast, and caffeine addict.

Gus makes his home on the coast of South Carolina, where he spends his days in search of merpeople, friendly cats, and interesting pieces of driftwood. He collects ball-jointed dolls, tattoos, and languages. He believes in faeries and thinks they’re terrifying… but still wants to meet one.
Publication Date
July 17, 2018
Available Formats
epub, mobi, pdf
Pages
274
Content Warning
 deals with neo-Nazi's, human trafficking, violence, rape, torture, suicidal thoughts
ISBN
978-1-64080-744-0
ASIN
B07CQQ2N22
As the so-called magical creatures go, I’m low on the hierarchy, and my powers aren’t much good to human mages. I’m a lover, not a fighter, through and through. I’m also selfish, lazy, and easily bored. But I’m damned good at what I do.

Too bad that won’t get my arse out of this sling.

Do one—granted, uncharacteristic—good deed, and now I’m held hostage to an arrogant faerie prince, trying to track down the one who summoned him while dodging gangbangers, gun runners, and Nazis. Add the powerful mage guilds scrambling to gather firepower for some doomsday event they’re sure is around the corner, and my cushy life of leisure might be nothing but a memory. On top of that, something’s compelling me to change on my most fundamental level. I’m not sure what I’ve got myself mixed up in, but nothing will ever be the same.

Bloody hell.

===

Featuring a new twist on urban fantasy combined with fast-paced action and intrigue, the Arcana Imperii series books are standalone adventures, each completely accessible to new readers.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Interesting Start to A Series
Overall 
 
3.0

 Cover – Stunning!
 POV – 1st person, multi POV
 Would I read it again – Maybe
 Genre – LGBT, Incubus, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal


 ** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **


 I feel conflicted about this one. Before the halfway mark, I was willing to give it 4 stars, but was unsure about where it was going because everything was so interlinked. By the time I'd finished, I had to demote it to 3 stars, because I'm unsure of how I feel about it.

 The plot was highly complex, intricate, and weaved the story through multiple characters. While this made for an intriguing plot and good action, it also left me feeling disorientated a lot of the time, and unsure how it would all come together. I liked the characters, all in their own way – Dante, Inky, Blossom, Raf, even Corazon. But no one really shone for me. There was no real central character, though the plot mostly revolved around two stories – Inky going on a self-discovery journey, and Dante searching for his missing sister, Ros – and it made it hard to really focus on one storyline over the other.

 I do want to say a huge Thank You for the clear clarification and warning that this book is part of a series! There are so many that don't warn you, then you get sucked into a world accidentally. The blurb clearly states that these will be standalone novels in the same universe, though considering all that happened in this book and how it will affect the other mage factions, I find it hard to believe that they will all be suitable as standalones. Only time will tell if that's possible, and despite my misgivings about this one, I would give the series another chance. I was intrigued by the descriptions of the other mage factions and would be interested to read about them.

 But, don't be fooled. This is no romance. There is actually zero romance here. The relationships contained within are fluid, sometimes open and something tentative. There is no blossoming romance with a happily ever after. That's not what this is. It's a true fantasy, plot heavy, with flashes of heat due to Inky's incubus nature. There was also some seriously brutal and inventive torture methods employed by Blossom, the arrogant but cat-loving Fae.

 It also covers some pretty dark themes. There are two constant themes:
 1 is that most of the powerful mages are inscrutable, untrustworthy and dangerous; they prey on the weak, on the light, the special, and they hurt them. In fact, we see two instances of mages holding “weaker” magical beings (seraphim and faun) as prisoners, torturing and raping them, in one case gang-raping them. It's not explained in explicit detail, but it's there and the implication of what is about to happen is strong. In fact, I felt a little sick when it came to the faun's part.
 2 is the neo-Nazi angle, which explicitly says that they're kidnapping immigrant or non-white children, especially who can't be reported missing or who have no family, to send them into slavery and/or sex trafficking.

 For that reason, I have to say that this book should come with a trigger warning. The mentions might not be explicit, but the themes run throughout, and while the word “rape” is never explicitly used*, the fact that you see the club, with unnamed characters strapped down, screaming for help, and have actual mentions of people lining up naked or with strap-ons makes it pretty clear what's about to happen. And if I can feel sick about it, with no need for triggers, I can't imagine the way someone who had experienced sexual assault would feel.
 * note: there is a quote I marked, which mentions “the elite practitioners of magic demonstrated their strength by raping angelic beings”

 Honestly, I found the POV to be disjointed, especially at first. I began thinking that it would all take place in Inky's POV. Then by Chapter 4, we got Blossom's POV and I thought it would be dual. Dante got his first POV at Chapter 9, adding in Raf's POV halfway through Chapter 13. The POV was never evenly split between the characters, nor was it always clear who the POV was for until halfway down the page. That's the one downside to writing multi-POV in 1st person.

 The story is very much a complex weave of twists, intricacies, cross purposes, crossed storylines, lots of characters, and lots of intrigue and fighting. Sometimes a little too much. I found myself wanting to skim, even wanting to stop and have a break a few times, because it was all a little too inconsistent. The entire first half moved slowly, weaving all the intricacies that would only make sense in the second half, while the second half was all action and guns. It made the story feel much longer than the less than 300 pages, sometimes losing its purpose amongst the action and angst.

 I often found myself wondering why characters were introduced, often in detail, with a hint of intrigue or attraction, only to be ignored for 20-40%. But it was because they popped up again later. And that's what this book does – it drops hints all throughout the first half that don't matter or make sense until the second half. But, because of that, there's actually quite a bit of confusion about intention, about direction, and what is really important or not. Some of the hints and characters felt like false clues that ended up meaning nothing while thers became important, and it was impossible to tell them apart.

 I have to say a huge THANK YOU to the author for that conversation between Emrys and Dante, though. Both characters are asexual – like me! – and they perfectly discuss how awkward it can be to a non-sexually minded person in a world that seems clouded by a need and obsession with sex. They described it beautiful, from how it felt to what it was like to be thought different, and all the things they'd heard in regards to their feelings. It's great that they not only understood each other, and provided that insight for readers who might not get it, but they also acknowledged that there are different types of asexuals; such as Emrys having experienced sex and having sort-of enjoyed it, while Dante never had and didn't want to. This is often the hardest thing to explain to non-asexuals. Some people, like myself, don't want any kind of physical intimacy, while some enjoy or tolerate it for themselves or to make their partner happy.

 The characters were all individual, with their own personalities, sometimes overpowering and sometimes sneaky, while all having a part to play in the overall plot. They were all pretty diverse, too. There were gay, straight, asexual, bi, as well as Jet, who was either trans, gender neutral or non-conforming. It's never really explicitly discussed, except when Jet asks Dante if he's straight or gay, and it doesn't need to be. There are a few times that a character notes or guesses at another's sexuality, but it's never made into a huge deal. There was someone for nearly every reader to identify with. Strong, weak, exuberant, shy, angry and egoist. There was a whole lot of realism in the characterisation and the complexity of their lives.

 ~

 Overall, it wasn't quite what I'd expected. I'm not sure why, because it was all detailed in the blurb, so none of it should have taken me by surprise. I think the idea of the 'Incubus Honeymoon' title and all that it implied made me expect something different to what I got. Mostly because Inky was not, actually, the main character of the story. I thought with an Incubus as the main character it would be excessive sex or romance, but there is actually zero romance, bare flashes of heat that appear maybe three times, and it has more of an action/adventure vibe than anything else.

 While it provides a truly original take on the incubus, Inky was my favourite character for the first half of the book; snarky, realistic, a little gruff and rough around the edges. He clashed so beautifully with Blossom, a typical Fae and full of ego, that I kind of expected more. Sadly, their relationship and interactions fizzled around the halfway mark, leaving Inky a little obsessed by Dante and struggling to figure out why. Maybe I expected some enemies-to-lovers, or a hint of tension that was more than just 'I don't like you', I don't know, but I didn't get any of that.

 August Li's work has been an experience, so far. I utterly fell in love with Gone By the Board, and The Kitchen Boy, while I got a little lost in the Blessed Epoch world. For me, their work is always impeccably well written, the worlds are 3D special effect stuff, because you know you're right in there with the characters. You feel everything with them. You experience every detail. But, I do find myself feeling slightly bogged down by the larger, more complex worlds and all that it takes to explore them.

 For me, Incubus Honeymoon was a plot and action heavy novel about self-discovery and finding family, that didn't quite fit the image I'd formed from the cover or blurb. I would have liked a central character who tied it all together, who wasn't a nine year old girl, and a plot that – when finished – felt completed. Instead, I feel like the story has barely begun and I'm already exhausted from trying to keep up. While the plot and the characters are great, it's just a little too rich for my tastes.

 ~

 Favourite Quotes

 “I'm a lover, not a fighter, but the thought of his face made me wish I'd meet a lad who got turned on by ninja serial killers and blood splatter.”

EW
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