Sparkwood promises magic, intrigue, and strong-willed bisexual men, and it definitely delivers on those promises. After a sluggish start, the book drew me in and demanded that I finish it.
My favourite aspect of this novella was the setting. I didn't connect with the characters immediately (I did by the end!), but thanks to the initial description of the small town of Sparkwood, I started to really engage with the writing. I also loved how much the author managed to convey about the 'other' Sparkwood (a different realm) with very few words.
The enemies-to-lovers story-line that acts as a backdrop to the central mystery is handled very well. I, personally, don't tend to enjoy books where the romantic elements overpower and overshadow the genre tropes and/or genre conventions. As such, the fact that Sparkwood lets the romance develop as a result of the paranormal mystery, rather than using the mystery plot as a convenient way to force the characters together, was something I quite liked.
There is also a lovely comment being made about cultural differences, culture shock, and learning to accept others throughout the story (and it isn't too heavy-handed in how the theme is integrated). Finn's personal growth is great to witness, especially in the space of only 53,000 words.
For the first chapter or two, I wasn't sure I would like 'Sparkwood'. Finn took me a while to warm up to, and it took a lot longer for me to be convinced that he felt much of anything about his brother's murder aside from general annoyance. Sure enough though, all of those doubts melted away as I delved further into the story.
It isn't necessarily in the control of the author, but I was distracted by the multitude of typos. In one chapter closer to the end, there were about four or five mistakes in the space of two pages (though that was the biggest cluster...most of the others were just here-and-there). Another pass by a proofing editor would have helped the overall quality.
OVERALL...a fine and relaxing read. It isn't an overly 'literary' novel (and it wouldn't work if it was, because it's not in the nature of the main character to be especially descriptive), but there are some lovely passages that hint at the author's flair with language. The plot moves at a pretty good pace once it gets past the initial set-up of people, places, and events
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