4 stars: Review of Waking Chaos by T.L. Callahan

See full issue for 2018 02-05

The Rundown

Lia Davies is having a run of bad luck: her boyfriend slept with her assistant, nasty rumors about her are flying around town, and the bank is calling in the loan on her art gallery. As she becomes more ostracized in the community, her options run low. A mysterious invitation to participate in the Paldimori Games–offering a hefty cash prize to the winner–could be the only solution to her problems. With no knowledge of what these games entail, and with the encouragement and support of her best friend, Dia, she hops on a private plane and is whisked away to the island of Sotiria.

What comes next is a tale with the intrigue of The Hunger Games, the competition of Survivor, the magic of Harry Potter, and, much to the detriment of an otherwise excellent story, the laughable sex scenes of Fifty Shades of Gray. From the moment of her arrival on the island, Lia and Chaos, the leader of the six Paldimori houses, butt heads–a clear sign romance will ensue. Amidst her verbal sparring with Chaos, mild flirtation with Eros, and training for the games, there are whispers of a prophesy that Lia is somehow involved in, and hints of an external threat to the houses. In this world where gods and magic may or may not exist, the games quickly spiral from friendly competition to lethal subversive attacks. Lia’s only hope for surviving is to team up with and trust Chaos.

The action, characters, plot, and setting are all very well done, and the reader gets caught up and transported into Lia’s worlds–the real one and the alternative one that exists on Sotiria. It takes a very skilled and talented writer to create good, believable sex scenes, and few writers are able to pull it off. Alas, T.C. Callahan falls into the latter category. The descriptions and dialogue in the sex scenes are disappointingly horrid compared to the quality of writing in the rest of this otherwise great story.

Waking Chaos is an intriguing, fast-paced tale, slightly marred by sex scenes where the dialogue and descriptions turn any potential eroticism into a farce of low-budget 1970s porn films. Aside from those scenes (that readers should skim over to get on with the worthwhile parts of the tale) this is a well-told tale that will leave readers eagerly waiting for the next installment.

The Recommendation

Readers who enjoy a well-crafted story with fantasy and supernatural elements with lots of intrigue and humor will enjoy the story in Waking Chaos. But, beware: the terribly cheesy sex scenes will either make you throw up in your mouth a little bit or laugh out loud. Five stars for the well-written intrigue, action, and plot but -1 for the cheesy sex scenes that strip any hint of romance or eroticism from the story for a total of 4 stars.

The Rating Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars

4 Stars (out of 5): Recommended. For the right audience, this book is a great read. It can hold its own against any traditionally published novel in its genre.

The Pros & Cons

Pros: Characterization, Humor, Plot, Strong World-Building
Cons: Dialogue, Graphic Sex Scenes

The Links

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The Reviewer

Lynne Hinkey

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