Review - "To Adam With Love" by Adrienne Wilder
Fantastic world of wonder, strange touching tale
When Adam was a child, his father attacked and almost killed him. His mother moved him to the Gray Zone in Atlanta to keep him safe from any further attacks. See, the Gray Zone is the area right outside the Den, the home of the Dragon Queen of the city, and is a buffer between the Kin and humankind. Dragons, or wyrms, are a different species of being, but genetically close enough to humans to allow interbreeding. And Adam is a Lesser Bred, one of the line of offspring between a human and a Kin, one of the pure blooded Dragons. To Adam's racial purist father, that is enough reason to kill him.
Ean has been raised by one of the Kin, Batu, a Dominant Male, to belong, as a part of his household. When he and Adam meet in the Gray Zone, they become friends. Ean wants to take care of Adam, for him to belong. He will always take care of Adam and keep him safe. But Ean, for all of his wanting, is human.
But Adam's father catches up to his wife and son, and Adam disappears, leaving the city and Ean. He returns to his home in the Gray Zone five years later, having testified and put his father behind bars, to begin his transformation from human to Lesser Bred. And to find Ean again. Because he loves him and wants so badly to belong to him. But will Adam be truly safe, and can he reconnect with Ean, or has Ean moved on? And will Ean become capable of loving Adam?
This story - this wildly imaginative, creative, intense and strangely touching tale - blew me away. The quality and depth of the characters, the detailed world building, the raw emotions and the sure handed story telling were just...amazing.
Adam and Ean are two wonderfully rich and textured characters, polar opposites and yet both drawn to each other improbably. Adam, raised to be human, even with his certain Lesser Bred future, and Ean, fully human but brought up with the strange, unhuman moral code of the Kin. And yet these two come together and teach the other - Adam to accept and embrace his future, and Ean to love and know his human roots. And they form something between them so different and sweet and powerful.
Adrienne Wilder has brought the oh-so-familiar city (I am a native of Atlanta) to life, but layered it with this weird and wonderful, totally alien side that is so plausible, and so strange and alien, I am just in awe. There is a danger to this world, and yet people find a way to make their lives, going about their tasks and living and loving and it just all works. Ms. Wilder includes a glossary of terms in the beginning to assist new readers to this world with common threads from her stories (this is one of a series of tales about this world), which is helpful. But I found myself so engrossed in the story, I didn't need it to take in the wonder and terror and wildness that is the Gray Zone.
And I have to comment on the ending - just killed me. "Batu put one of his massive hands against his perfect chest: "Because it hurt in here when you went away"." Holy Hell, Ms. Wilder, just perfection.
Read this and be prepared to be amazed.