Saturday, January 14, 2012


Review - “Burn” by TJ Klune

Fantastic, original work

Very Highly Recommended

“My name is Felix Paracel, and when I was nine, I became angry with my mother and killed her with fire that shot from my hands.”

There are perhaps 5,000 elementals in the United States.  Fire, earth, air, water – elementals have the innate power to control and manipulate one of the forces that make up the universe.  Felix is an elemental.

His dreams of fire and death and destruction make no sense.  Whose voice speaks in his head?  What does The Tree have to do with him?    Why is his mother secretly training him in his affinity with fire?  

No one knows the secret he keeps.  He can control two elements - fire and air.  And that makes him dangerous.  And wanted.  And his mother is one of those who want to use his power for her own ends. 

So he lashes out and sets her on fire.  But he gets trapped in fire of his own making, and is rescued by a huge teen who seems to know him.  There is an immediate connection.  And this is the first time Felix meets Seven.

“You are not alone in this.”

Fast forward almost 16 years.  His world has changed.  Felix Paracel is now Atticus Vanesco.  In the aftermath of the fire, after being left by Seven, he and his father have fled to Terra City, taken on new identities, started new lives.  Made new friends, like Jason, who took Addy under his protection.  

And the world outside has changed too.  The public is afraid of elementals.  There is legislation moving through Congress to restrict their rights.  The Mayor of Terra City is sponsoring the Elemental Registration Act.  And only one person knows about Addy.  Or so he thinks.

As he approaches his 25th birthday, Addy’s world is work, Dad, Jason and all the one night stands he has.  But it all explodes.  And when it does, his whole life will change.  All of his assumptions will be tested.  The truth of his life will be revealed.  And he will be reunited with Seven.

“Somehow I knew that my old life was over and a new one was about to begin.”

Now that Addy – no, Felix – knows the truth and has met others of his kind, he begins to recognize how rare his powers are.  How much of a responsibility.  And how Seven will fit in his life.  Be his life.  His strength.  His heart.  The Iuratum  Cor to his Findo Unum.  

But there are still secrets and before Felix can make this new life work, he must trust – in Seven, in the Council that governs his kind, in his new friends, and most of all, in himself.  Because that voice in his head is back, stronger than ever, still talking about The Tree and fire and secrets and lies and destruction.  And Seven is there, in his heart, his mind and his soul, to soothe him.

“My world had crumbled around me, and he’d laid the foundation for something new.  Now, he began to build it back up, piece by broken piece, brick by shattered brick.”

But will that be enough?  When all the secrets are laid bare, will his Heart, his Findo Unum, be enough?  Will lies and betrayals and deaths break him?  Tear him from his mission, his fate and his destiny?  And most of all, will it separate him from his beloved Seven?

This sophomore effort from TJ Klune is an instant classic.  This is a wildly inventive tale set in a brave new world of fickle gods, superhuman powers and grand themes – love, friendship, secrets and the lonely shouldering of responsibility and fate.

Mr. Klune grabbed me by the throat and dragged me - very very willingly - into this funny and heart-wrenching and glorious tale.  I was taken from laughter to tears to grief; this book moved me with the sacrifices and the secrets and lies and surprises.  I wanted to hunt him down and drag answers from him, hug him for the beauty that blossomed unexpectedly like roses, and rip his heart out like he did mine.

And the characters.  Felix is a red hot mess, an Ice Queen thrust unwillingly into a fate not of his choosing, so afraid and halting, but always willing.  Seven, so heroic and sure and solid.  And then they merge into each other and learn each others’ strengths and hopes and weaknesses and learn to lean on each other.  And find they are mates in the purest sense of the word – made for each other, the missing piece of each others souls.

The supporting characters are so well drawn, each locking into place and completing the puzzle of this world.  This world so close to our own, where any minority (gays) could be feared and vilified and gentled out of sight and then out of existence.

The themes are universal  - love, sacrifice.  The triumph of good over evil.  

But does it?

Read and find out.  

One warning.  This is NOT Bear, Otter and the Kid, remix.  Don’t expect it.  You will be disappointed.  

But this is the real thing.  I kid you not.  This is a step forward, sideways and through the rabbit hole.  

Enjoy the ride.



  1. Thank you, Tom, for your wonderful review!

  2. Yeah that was the reaction I had too.

  3. This one is on my list. Love TJ's writing. As the music quote goes, he could sing the phone book...well, TJ could write the phone book and I'd put it on my list. Why yes I am a fan. :-)

  4. Again, I have procured a story based on your review Tom. This review is, well, I don't have the right words. Love Tj's writing as well, and am a fan also.

  5. Excellent review. I'll be checking this one out :)

  6. why, oh why, do i insist on paperbacks?? waiting very impatiently :)

  7. I have this in my wishlist at ARe for when I next shop. Great review and I look forward to reading this book.