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Wicked Gentlemen and Feral Machines author, Ginn Hale, has returned swinging with her latest tale of love, suffering and the hardships of outsiderness.
The fascinating world in Lord of the White Hell (Blind Eye Books), is complete with sword fights, a deadly curse and a secret romance.
The novel begins by introducing readers to Kiram, a teenaged genius capable of creating intricate machinery, as he is on the road to the Sagrada Academy. The academy has traditionally served Cadeleonian boys, a race that has dominated Kiram’s world with their light skin, tall statures and religious culture.
Kiram, a stealthy, bronze-toned prodigy with golden curls, has been invited to attend on the basis of his impressive talent.
Kiram, a Haldiim, is considered unclean and hell-bound by many of his prejudiced classmates for his differing appearance, native language and misunderstood religious beliefs. Their intense distrust stems largely from cultural ignorance, as well as a Cadeleonian religion filled with harsh punishments and an intolerance of other faiths.
Intent on acing his classes and proving himself to his Haldiim-hating classmates, Kiram quickly finds himself captivated by his roommate, Javier. Not only is this upperclassman charmingly handsome with his muscular body and dark hair that occasionally falls over his eyes, but he is also witty, sarcastic and comes from a royal background.
However, Javier is plagued by a terrible curse on his family line that claimed the life of his father and has degraded his cousin Fedeles into little more than a rattling child.
As the attraction between Kiram and Javier ignites into an epically passion-filled romance, both adolescents must work against a society that has demonized gay love. While Kiram’s Haldiim culture tolerates homosexuality among its members, Javier could lose his title, his fortune and be cast out of Cadeleonian society for good.
Kiram, along with his uncle Rafie, his uncle’s husband Alizadeh and Javier embark on a dangerous mission to release Fedeles from the terrible confines of the curse he has been afflicted by for years, protect Javier from certain death in the future and defeat the villain within the Sagrada Academy grounds, who desires to murder both royals so that the greedy royal bishop will receive their fortunes.
Hale manages to weave a world much like our own, where unfounded biases continue to persist and destroy. The tale is particularly resonating for today’s society, where gays and lesbians continue to be ostracized and certain religious groups continue to fight the forces of intolerance.
Kiram’s Haldiim world is particularly fascinating because it inverts the traditional patriarchal structure to create a society where women head families and daughters are first in line to inherit family fortunes and businesses.
Gay relationships are not only respected but recognized. For example, the Haldiims recognize Kiram’s uncles not only as partners but as spouses.
While Hale weaves an unforgettable story of adventure, love and personal growth, there are several downsides that prevent the novel from reaching its highest potential.
Noticeable throughout the text are typographical errors, which have the potential to detract from the story by distracting readers.
While some supporting characters like Kiram’s friend Nestor and Kiram’s uncles are well-developed and add to the story, others are one-dimensional and flat. Javier’s roudy band of friends called the Hellions are similar in both appearances and personalities, making it particularly difficult to distinguish one from the other.
Another issue was a lack in description of Kiram’s time at the academy. While the worlds of the Haldiim people and Cadeleonians are thoroughly developed over the course of the novel, readers fail to get a sense of Kiram’s daily life in the academy aside from his experiences in two hated classes.
Nevertheless, Hale essentially creates a Harry Potter for gay adolescents. Through exploring youth, romance and how it feels to be different, the novel’s message can resonate with young gays and lesbians struggling to be who they are in an intolerant environment as well as anyone who has been ostracized for any reason at all.
Hale’s novel is inspiring, innovative and relatable. It is a must-read for fantasy lovers.
LORD OF THE WHITE HELL
by Ginn Hale
Blind Eye Books
Paperback, 9780978986162, 348pp.