Recommended Read, Review

Review: The Calyx Charm by May Peterson (2021)

The Sacred Dark, Book #3

Heat Factor: It has a few steamy moments in an otherwise churning sea of what’s going on

Character Chemistry: I mean, they’re meant to be in a deep, deep way

Plot: There’s a whole lot of aftermath, but essentially we meet Violetta and Tibario, who loved each other secretly when Violetta was known as Mercurio, and who find their way to each other after Tibario comes back from the dead.

Overall: This book is kind of like a dream, and everything is floaty and confusing except for what Violetta and Tibario have together.

So this book was, and I mean this, kind of dreamlike the entire plot. You know when you have a really complicated dream and you know what’s going on but if you try to explain it, it sounds like, “So then I was me, but I was also NOT me, and it was our house but like, also a toadstool…” That’s how this book was the whole time. I understood it on kind of a visceral, gut instinct-connection type level, and then sat here and looked at my keyboard for a really long time just not knowing at all how to summarize this. At all.

Here’s the haps for this one: Tibario knew Violetta as Mercurio from their time together as childhood friends. And then over time, the two of them both quietly began to yearn for the other silently. When Tibario dies in the midst of a family issue, Both Violetta and Tibario realize they loved each other—and so when Tibario comes back to life, he’s determined to love who he believes is the beautiful boy Mercurio, and Violetta is grappling with the knowledge that the dream she cherished, loving Tibario as the woman she is, is over. But of course, this is Romancelandia, so you know that’s not it.

So that’s the stirrings of the romance plot. Here’s the dream. 

Violetta is a witch/seer who has the ability to envelope people with protection. When she was known as Mercurio, her parents were leaders in their land who protected their soldiers with clippings of her hair. But then something happened, her father turned out to be a violent monster, her mother had to disappear, and Violetta’s power was ripped from her and given to her father. But like, we don’t really know why or how, and neither does Violetta. It goes from a good dream to a bad dream really fast. Luckily, Violetta has a found family who protects her and hides her, and gives her space to regain her footing and a life on her own terms.

Tibario’s mother is also a witch but she has the ability to control people through their minds. This is kind of a messy relationship because she’s bigtime controlling. But she’s also not all bad—she cares deeply for Tibario and they were kind of tenderly telepathically connected when Tibario was a child. So he’s a very sweet, thoughtful man who has some mommy issues. His mother is also determined to bring about the downfall of Violetta’s father, which is something pretty much everyone has in common.

So the plot. Basically the world is going to end, and no one can stop it—Violetta has seen it coming, and that’s kind of that. But maybe they can stop it, if they resist everything. But also, maybe if they just accept their fates, that’s what they’re supposed to do, and that’s what’s meant to be. Or if they do the opposite of what they THINK they’re supposed to do, that is the KEY to survival. Or just run out the clock. 

No one really knows if anything can save them from their doom, or if they should try, and it’s kind of a long thread of the characters being very certain of some things and then uncertain. They have some of the facts, but there are a lot of hazy bits. It’s really beautifully written and if you just float through it, it’s actually kind of nice. If you’re more of a strict, linear plot-preferring reader, you’re going to struggle with the dreamlike rhythm of this book. The usual hints about where we’re headed with the plot just don’t really apply because the characters themselves don’t really seem to know what’s going on. So as a reader, we kind of think, okay, here’s where we’re headed, and we sit down and buckle up and prepare to go to destination A. But then in the immediate following paragraph, something happens to directly contradict that, and we think, ah, perhaps we’re actually headed to destination Z, we must be, because of all these other reasons. So then mentally we get out of that plot vehicle and get into a different one, sit down, buckle up, and prepare to go to destination Z. But then it changes again. So it’s understandable that the characters are struggling to figure out what’s going on, but it can feel kind of confusing when you can’t ever really settle into any potential outcomes. 

It absolutely does come together, and the devotion and love between Tibario and Violetta is beautifully unpacked. In fact, it’s what grounds the whole story—the characters don’t even know whether they’re supposed to hope or give up, but the love was there before Tibario even knew Violetta was Violetta. And I will say this—it’s worth floating along through the dream to see the characters each achieve their own clarity.

Buy Now: Amazon

Looking for something similar?

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The Land of Magic

Thoughtful Romances

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