Wednesday, September 12, 2018

In This Iron Ground by Marina Vivancos Blog Tour

Damien is nine years old when his parents die. What should have been the worst moment of his life begins a journey shadowed by loneliness and pain. The night of a full moon, four years and seven foster homes later, Damien flees to the forest, desperate to escape everything.

Instead, he finds the Salgado pack, and the earth beneath his feet shifts. Damien has seen the Salgado children in his school: Koko, who is in his class, and Hakan, two years older and infinitely unreachable. Damien is suddenly introduced into a world that had only ever existed in his imagination, where there is magic in the forest and the moon. He meets creatures that look like monsters, but Damien knows that monsters have the same face as anybody else.

Over the years, Damien and Hakan grow closer. First, just as friends and foster brothers in the Salgado house, and then into something heated and breathless when Damien joins Hakan at college. Despite what he may yearn for in the darkest part of the night, Damien knows, deep down in that bruised and mealy part of his core, that he’s not good enough to be part of the Salgado family, their pack. He’s not worthy of calling Hakan his home.

Even though he knows in the end it’ll hurt him, he’ll hold onto this for as long as he can.

CONTENT WARNING: This book contains themes of emotional and (nonsexual) physical child abuse and the subsequent emotional, cognitive, and behavioural impacts.

This story contains sexually explicit scenes between consenting adults and is meant for an adult audience.

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Book 1
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~  Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

No matter the depth of the content, I cannot hand out a glowing rating due to how the information was delivered, finding the story difficult to connect to due to the execution.

I need to preface this review by stating the writing style wasn’t a style I was accustomed to enjoy or find entertaining. Written with purple prose, I found it difficult to fall into the storyline due to the fact that no 13-year-old child thinks/speaks in the fashion used to tell the story.

The voice, it wasn’t the voice of 13-year-old Damien, nor of an overview narrator, but struck me strongly as if the writer was storytelling, which contributed to me being unable to connect with Damien. While some of the purple prose was undeniably beautiful, it tripped me up constantly.

Written more like a journal, with no full scenes, the transitions from one time to another were abrupt, jarring, leaving me feeling befuddled more than entertained. Early on, in a scene where Damien met the Salgado pack, he was in bed but then in the woods, and I didn’t know if he was dreaming or remembering a real event – as he was a passage earlier – then pages later, I realized it was a scene in real-time.

There was an air of anti-reality, told in a storytelling fashion, and this left me feeling as disconnected as a reader as Damien felt from the story he was telling, because of the lack of cohesive scenes transitioning in a linear timeline.

With the English scholar vocabulary and purple prose, added with the lack of colloquialisms and slang, I wondered if it was narrated by a middle-aged Damien, flexing a degree in English and Literature, but when I got to the end of the novel, it was only Damien’s 19th birthday and English was not his major.

Side note: Damien wanted to go into art therapy as an occupation, yet didn’t believe going to therapy was helpful… confusing. Also, social services would have mandated therapy after the events that transpired, whether he agreed to go or not.

… “the jasmine flourish of his burgeoning confidence…” was the voice the novel was written in, starting at age 13. The few passages with teenage-appropriate dialogue were jarring when mixed with words that even I had to ask the dictionary to define (writer, here).

“The welcome at home was equally effusive.” was mixed with the saying ping-ponged.

I could never pinpoint the location of the setting. Damien being aged 13 – 19 during the whole of the novel, yet he frequented bars and consumed alcohol. There was a large Native American population, leading me to believe it took place in the United States, where age 21 is a nationwide law. Damien wasn’t the type for a fake ID, so I quickly discounted that as an option. There were mentions of sweet potato farms and forests with jungles growing within.

Damien was a grieving child thrust into foster home after foster home, with the story starting off within an abusive foster home. While this tugged the heartstrings, the narrator told the story in an emotionless, flat, detached voice that didn’t pull me in to connect to Damien. While there were moments after moments where one should have gotten a gut-punch sensation or teary-eyed, I was left feeling as detached as Damien was during those situations.

The only time I felt as if anything occurred in the 'now' was after Damien began attending college with Hakan. The vibe of the voice suddenly changed, organically flowing, no longer being told but shown. The oddity was how this had me connecting emotionally with Hakan, not Damien, and made me interested in the future of his FWB shifter. Another shift was how erotic the book became near the ending, instead of intimacy it was eroticism, which was a dramatic, jarring shift to how the previous 3/4 of the book was written/voiced in anti-reality desolation. While I understand the allegory, in how this shift also occurred in Damien, it was as if I began reading another book, written in another voice, by another author.

Overall, while I found the content deep and evocative, the writing style and voice failed in execution. To be honest, I don’t know if I want to read more by this author in the future. It pains me to say that I won’t be recommending this novel, even though the content and premise had great promise. Rather, I’d strongly suggest downloading the sample to taste the voice of the storytelling.

When Marina was a child she couldn’t sleep. Night after dissolving night she just couldn’t sleep. Nothing much worked – until she started making up stories in her head. Suddenly, the transition into unconsciousness was a smooth dive into calm waters.

Marina is currently in a period of sleepless upheaval, and she hopes writing down the stories in her head will cast the same spell it did decades ago.

Marina hopes to write in a variety of romance sub-genres, from contemporary to supernatural to sci-fi. Her style, however, tends to focus on character-centred stories that explore different facets of the human experience, such as mental health. She also enjoys writing explicit, drawn-out sex scenes, so expect those to be a prominent feature of her stories.

Marina tends to keep to herself unless prompted, so don’t be shy in approaching her!

Connect with Marina

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of In This Iron Ground (Natural Magic #1) by Marina Vivancos to read and review for this tour.

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