Saturday, August 13, 2022

REVIEW: Phase of Fate (book) by CoraLee June

Phase of Fate is urban fantasy with a strong potential for paranormal romance. I bought my copy brand new.


In the world of this series, werewolves bond with prodigies and keep them safe. Halle comes from a long line of prodigies, although it skipped her father and seems to have skipped her as well. Halle's sister Mona, however, is a gifted violinist bonded to Jax. Halle loves her sister, although part of her wishes she didn't have to constantly live in her shadow. Mona is scheduled to go to Australia when the unimaginable happens: Jax, the werewolf who should have been her lifelong guardian, suddenly turns feral and kills her, right in front of Halle. 

A year later, Halle is still a mess, the prodigy-werewolf system is on rocky ground, and more feral bonded werewolves have turned up. Halle and her family have gone from having a close relationship with werewolves to barely speaking to them, and when Halle unwillingly finds herself bonded to a werewolf named Theo, her first reaction is fear that he, too, might turn feral and kill her the way Jax killed her sister. However, Theo is somehow spared from whatever it is that's turning bonded werewolves feral, and suddenly everyone wants to study Halle and whatever it is that makes her bond to Theo different.

This is one of the books I bought at Book Bonanza 2022. I attended a panel the author was on, and her brief description of this series (something about a semi-taboo relationship between a woman and the werewolf guardian bonded to her) snagged my attention. I didn't like the sound of the whole "prodigy" aspect, but I was willing to give the series a shot anyway.

I was pleasantly surprised. Although the writing could have been better, I noticed a few typos/incorrectly used words, and the world-building had some issues, this was an engaging read and an interesting take on the whole werewolf "fated mates" trope. In this world, the prodigy-werewolf bond started off as a survival mechanism for a particular group of people. The group was kept alive via the skills of various prodigies that cropped up among them (like miraculously gifted healers, leaders, etc.), and those prodigies were in turn protected by werewolves that bonded to them. The thing that didn't quite sit right with me: that this had somehow evolved, relatively quickly (I think?), into something accepted worldwide as the basis for running everything. I wonder what mechanisms were used to figure out where in the world particular prodigies should go, and whether it ever resulted in wars?

I initially thought that prodigies and their werewolf guardians were also considered to be fated mates or something similar, but in reality there were rules against sexual relationships between humans and werewolves (something about diluting werewolf bloodlines). I'm going to guess that those rules won't survive Book 2 of this series. Although Halle and Theo spent a lot of time unhappy with and/or angry at each other, there were strong indications of potential romance on the horizon.

Personally, Delilah interested me more than Theo did. She'd been kicked out of her pack after her prodigy committed suicide. The friendship developing between her and Halle was definitely more enjoyable than the tension between Halle and Theo.

This first book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, and I initially thought print copies of the second book weren't available yet. However, it turned out that Amazon was just pushing the Kindle version in my face so firmly that I didn't initially see the print version. Crossing my fingers that the second book is as strangely addictive as the first.

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