What if your greatest sin was love?
My name is Ezra Vasher, and I’m the worst kind of sinner. I keep my secret well hidden. Even from myself. But there are those who can see it anyway.
There are those who pray earnestly, and help pave a road to Heaven with integrity and a pure heart. A sin is a sin is a sin. Ad infinitum. And we all sin.
But there are those who claim divine approval, and God commands them to draw out blasphemies, and to punish with impunity. Those scars won’t ever heal.
I can run. I can hide. But this is a sin beyond escape. In more ways than one.
Set in secessionist Texas. A part of the Lethe. Æther. Chaos. universe, but is a standalone.
For a while after reading this book I didn’t know what to think. Even now as I write this review I’m still conflicted about what to write. Perhaps I should just start from the start.
So we have Ezra who lives in the village of Hallowed Valley which is part of the State of Texas which had seceded out of the USA. This is all set a hundred years in the future.
This Texas is a very insular, conservative, religious and dare I say, bigoted place. Women are no more than human incubators. They are not allowed to work except in extenuating circumstances where there are no male children in the family. Marriages are a matters of contracts between families to acquire land and property. Even unborn children are already betrothed before they are even conceived. The contents of the christian bible had been doctored and used to control the people. And homosexuality is a sin punishable by death.
Ezra is a young man who’s grown up in this environment. His family are well of and produce wines consumed across Texas. He is betrothed to Naomi, a girl who he’s never met and his parents don’t want him to meet. His sister is married and has a young child but he’s refused permission to visit his sister. He has no friends. So it’s easy to say he feels isolated, although he’s living with his family.
Then we find out he is attracted to the young pastor of his church. When he finds himself in a one-to-one situation with Pastor Lazarus who is there to give him pre-marital counseling, Ezra can’t help revealing the way he feels about Lazarus and his attraction to men in general. This is risky on several levels. But after several counseling sessions, their relationship progresses and one thing leads to another.
At first we see this all unfold from Ezra perspective. Their encounters are passionate. Ezra is obviously naive about matters of the body and the heart for that matter. Lazarus is more experience and more dominant. And Ezra can’t help falling in love with him.
But after Ezra finds out that his family members view him as an abomination, he goes to Lazarus expecting that Lazarus feels the way he does and they could run away together. Unfortunately things don’t quite pan out and only go from bad to worse for Ezra.
We do eventually get into Lazarus’s head and read things from his perspective. I did understand why he did the things he did.
Which brings me to the ending and the biggest shock. To be honest that ending numbed me out. It is neither a happy-ever-after nor a happy-for-now ending. In fact, nobody is happy at the end of this story. Not the characters and certainly not me.
I can’t even tell you there might be hope for a sequel or that this was a cliffhanger because there won’t be a character to write a sequel about. Yes, you read that
write right. Unless by a miracle he is resurrected.
I hate it when I invest my time reading about a character and cheering him on, only to have him killed. It’s the reason I lost interest with Game of Thrones. Stopped watching it after the first season because my favourite character died.
Now that I’ve aired my grievance, let me also say that this is a brilliant book nevertheless. I got hooked right from the first sentence and I didn’t put the book down till the end. It was page-turning, heart-thumping and temperature-raising. This could’ve easily been one of my best reads of this year if not for the ending.
Will I read this author again? Probably. I enjoyed the writing style enough to be curious about her other books but if they end in the same vein as this one then, I will be giving them a miss.
Do I recommend this book? Certainly. For anyone who doesn’t mind a shocking, sad ending.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.