This weeks review is a New Adult fantasy, though its written in a way that makes it different from your typical fantasy. The elements that make a typical fantasy are hidden a bit and come out slowly, rather than forced on you as it normally is.
The story opens in the town of Middle On with a group of three friends searching for their fourth friend. It's apparent from the beginning that they aren't your ordinary group of friends, its very obvious that they have been bonded over something much deeper than time. The friends separate to find their lost friend, and luckily succeed before he does something unforgivable.
After the intense prologue, you get into the main story and discover that Orryk is a young man struggling to live life after being orphaned just months before. You also discover that while the friends have been friends since youth, the ever creeping problem of adulthood is approaching. This issue is one that plagues the young protagonist and combined with his ruthlessly abusive cobbler master forces him to pursue the one person that can give him answers, his father.
Having left years before, Orryk's father has been more than a touchy subject for the young man. It brings out a hatred that emanates from the pages itself and you begin expecting a confrontation straight from an old Johnny Cash song.
As Orryk begins exploring his options to gain the capital, and information, he needs for his journey several tests are thrown his way. An opportunity to gain back all the money owed to him by his master for his apprenticeship presents a test of his morals, an old friend of his father sheds some light on the man's character; the man also introduces Orryk to one of many wonders he will face on his travels to come.
You can really feel the boys desperation as he decides what type of man he wants to be, and how far he will go to become it. You also get a connection to this character that is hard to describe, and if you're anything like me you'll learn a little about your own moral compass as you applaud for and sneer at the decisions Orryk makes.
Once the dust has settled and the time has come for Orryk to begin his journey he faces his ultimate test which is brought to him by a kindly man who shared a drink, and laughs, with him just a few nights before. The stranger confronts Orryk on the road and as the story closes, Orryk finds out just what the world he has entered is all about.
There are so many things I can say about Middle On I managed to narrow it down to the most notable pros such as:
- The bond between the four friends isn't something you take from reading, Cox managed to make the dialogue and actions truly present four inseparable lifelong friends.
- The story continually moves forward and keeps you turning the page.
- In addition to the bond of the Orryk and his three friends, Cox truly brings out an emotional response to Orryk's lot in life and his struggles, both internal and external.
- There are a few action scenes early on that seem a bit over the top, though they almost seem as if the reasons for them will come out in a later sequel. For this story they seem to fall a bit short when compared to the action sequences later on in the story.
In the end Middle On by K.R. Cox delivered on all fronts. It is a story written by an author that knows his audience and knows how to pull an emotional response from a reader, a skill that even some of the most seasoned authors never master. I definitely recommend this story for anyone, even those that don't frequent the fantasy section will enjoy this read as it falls somewhere into a genre of its own.
Overall I'm going to give Middle On by K.R. Cox a solid 9/10 based on:
8/10 for readability - As I mentioned earlier the story continues to move forward with little to no repetitive ideas or actions. Each word belongs and there is not a wasted one throughout; the result is a page turner that will keep you vested until the end...and then asking for more.
8/10 for characters - I already spoke about the four young friends, but the passion and emotion aren't just limited to them. The vast majority of the citizens of Middle On are very complex and possess a personality of their own. Of course there are a few characters with relatively small parts that may lack that, but even they are recognizable from encounter to encounter.
9/10 for story - The story behind Orryk and his 'coming of age' adventure is truly wonderful. There is everything from loving the strength he possesses, and his ability to draw more from those around him; to hating him for decisions he makes, though that's going to depend on your moral compass when you read. I found myself so drawn in that I am waiting on pins and needles to see where Orryk's journey takes him.
10/10 for emotional response - The real x-factor in this story, at least for me, was without a doubt the emotional response this story draws out of you. Each interaction, flashback, thought etc brings about either a true emotional response where you find yourself angry, sad, sympathetic, or laughing out loud, or it causes you to check your own moral compass which is something I've only had a few other stories bring out.
A huge thank you to K.R. Cox for contacting me and giving me the opportunity to read Middle On. It truly was a great read that I am more than excited for having had the opportunity to read, and I will be picking up the sequel in the near future.
If you'd like to pick up a copy of Middle On for yourself click here.