Series: Alex Caine #1
Alex Caine is a martial artist fighting in illegal cage matches. His powerful secret weapon is an unnatural vision that allows him to see his opponents' moves before they know their intentions themselves. An enigmatic Englishman, Patrick Welby, approaches Alex after a fight and reveals, 'I know your secret.' Welby shows Alex how to unleash a breathtaking realm of magic and power, drawing him into a mind-bending adventure beyond his control. And control is something Alex values above all else... A cursed grimoire binds Alex to Uthentia, a chaotic Fey godling, who leads him towards chaos and murder, an urge Alex finds harder and harder to resist. Befriended by Silhouette, a monstrous Kin beauty, Alex sets out to recover the only things that will free him - the shards of the Darak. But that powerful stone also has the potential to unleash a catastrophe which could mean the end of the world as we know it.
Alex Caine makes his living as a very successful cage fighter. The people in his industry may be slightly shady but Alex is a man who knows how to handle himself. When the mysterious Patrick Welby approaches Alex and helps him out of a spot of bother, it starts a chain of events which turns Alex’s life upside down. The precognition Alex has always used to help him fight is just the beginning of Alex’s abilities. When a powerful book beaming with magic takes hold of Alex, he starts a quest to find a way to free himself from the dark urges it creates within him. With the enigmatic Silhouette, a powerful Kin, by his side Alex sets out to try to find ancient stones which may have the power to free him before those searching for him stop him or his own new-found powers turn on himself.
The first thing I noticed about this book was just how cinematic it was. This is a novel which reads like an action movie filled with plenty of death-defying scenes and interesting plot turns. Bound is also a book which is a lot darker and grittier than the books I normally read – which works to its advantage. Alex Caine’s martial arts lead him to living in the dark underbelly of society associating with people who would sooner take a swing at you with a baseball bat than shake your hand. Mixed with the supernatural aspect, this book adds something new and exciting to the Urban Fantasy scene.
Fey, Kin, Godlings – there are a lot of powerful and interesting creatures which make an appearance in Bound and they are deliciously dark and twisted. Not to mention the cursed grimoire. The dangers Alex and Silhouette face chapter to chapter are very real within the contexts of the world in which they live. Alex himself is just as dark as the creatures he faces after he finds himself bound to a mysterious book. I liked how Alex found himself involved with the world. From his first meeting with Patrick Welby right to the end, Alex is a great mix of closed and confused with regards to his new situation whilst at the same tie open to the magical changes in his life because he can’t refute they are happening. Silhouette was slightly two-dimensional in certain aspects but as far as facilitating Alex’s story, she was fundamental. This book was slightly violent at times and darkly twisted. In a story like this death is to be expected as dark beings rarely hold back. But there were parts which some readers might find a little confronting. That said – had the author held back I’m not sure this novel would have had the same impact.
There is always something going on in Bound. The action is constant with danger around every corner. With the Darak leading Alex on a scavenger hunt of sorts across Europe, it was an interesting journey following him and Silhouette. Into vampire dens and escaping villains like Hood and Sparks, the pacing was fast and exciting. I can’t imagine where Alan Baxter is going to take this series but I’m excited to see what is install for Alex Caine next.
Thanks to Harper Voyager Australia for the review copy.