Bound by Alan Baxter

bound-cover-largeThe first in the Alex Caine trilogy, Bound is the debut novel by Australian dark fantasy author Alan Baxter.

Alex is a cage fighter with an advantageous edge – he can sense what people are going to do before they do it, sense their intent. Unbeknownst to him, this is actually magic. Approached by Englishman Patrick Welby after a match, he is made an offer he can’t seem to refuse, even though he wants to. Alex is drawn in to the world of magic, bound to an entity within a book, a book that only Alex can read. This entity, Uthentia, wants to be free from his constraints, and is exuding a strong, negative influence on Alex.

With Uthentia wanting Alex to kill everyone and everything in his way, Alex uses violent sex and his new magical skills to try and contain Uthentia within the book whilst trying to find 3 pieces of a crystal that once reunited, might have the strength to destroy it. He is joined in this search by Silhouette, a feral fey who is drawn to Alex’s violent nature. She is Alex’s guide to the magical world – informs Alex of how the magical world works, the rules within Clan spaces, and helps Alex develop his magic.

There were some wonderful parts to this novel. The fighting scenes are fantastic, in particular the opening scene is wonderful, a credit to both Baxter’s skill as a fighter and his ability to write fighting scenes. The Dark Sisters are truly menacing, and their physical descriptions and dialogue are strongly written. The antagonist couple of Sparks and Hood were probably my favourite part of the novel. A man driven to collect everything and the woman who loves him despite being scared of him, are the characters that felt the most real.

There were some things that I found problematic. If Alex is magically glowing so strongly, how was it that it took until now for someone to find him? Surely any other magical beings would have noticed him before Welby found him? Silhouette’s motives would have made more impact if they hadn’t been so obviously foreshadowed. She was also quite two dimensional, which I think could have been improved with a more detailed backstory. I look forward to further development of her character in the sequels. I also found that the magical world needed more detail. As much as I understand it, they’re hiding in places that normal people can’t go. Apart from that, the world described was ours with a bit of magic thrown in.

The main issue I had with Bound was that Alex was too inconsistent. His relationship with the world of magic needed more development. He bounced between completely diving in to the magical world and wanting to be as far from magic as possible.

That said, I enjoyed Bound, it was an entertaining read. I just felt it needed more consistent character development and world building.

 

I received an e-copy of Bound from HarperCollins Voyager through NetGalley in exchange for a review.

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