A good book is one that we enjoy. Every rare, magical, once-in-a-while, a story grabs us with its talons, and flies us away to distant places, discovering endless possibilities. We emerge with a specific insight that shifts our way of thinking about ourselves and our daily lives.
That is supremely true with EJ Frost’s paranormal series, starting with Neon Blue and continuing in the pages of Blood Yellow.
These books hoisted me in the air and flew me upside down by the ankles, mind you, seeing new worlds, far horizons then shook me senseless and returned me to this mortal plane with the truth that there is no normal life – just life. We are to live with focus, purpose and love. However that may be for each of us, individually.
In the first of Frost’s paranormal series, Neon Blue, Tsara is a witch who has yet to embrace her talent and full power as she yearns to straddle suburban Boston while nursing injured shape-shifter werewolves and brewing magical fertility potions.
When Tsara meets Jou, a lust demon, it’s amid dire circumstances. He saves her life and she releases him from enslavement. Reader beware, it’s so hard to put the genie back into the bottle and also to send the demon back to Hell once he has a taste of freedom.
Both Tsara and Jou are haggard, even cynical and most certainly disillusioned and lost from their prior experiences. Demons and witches – especially magic-filled witches who want nothing more than to live a mortal, suburban life – would seem to be incompatible. Yeah, no. Their chemistry and shared energy is downright combustible, leaping from the pages of this book. As they become familiar, Jou evolves Tsara’s term of endearment from “Sweet meat” to “Sweetness” – For her part, Tsara also realizes something.
“The fact I like him more and more all the time, and that I don’t know what I’ll do if I figure out how to send him back to Hell.”
The war in Tsara rages on. After a day pass to his home in Hell, the conflict between her vision of what life should be like and what her heart calls becomes more glaring. She stares down two possibilities – a life of crossing magical worlds alongside Jou or a life crossing town via the commuter train in a mortal, Monday-thru-Friday-interspersed-with-weekends mortal world.
“This is where I imagined living. A suburban street, not too far from the city. Only I’ve lost my license permanently, so I’m not going to make much of a soccer om, even if I could have kids…my family dog is more likely to be a werewolf and the only man who can accept me as I am is a demon.”
Oh, those rules we learn so young, about what we should do and be and love – to live within the white picket fence boundaries, every day – those ideals die, hard. Even if our feral soul calls us to farther horizons and a different sort of life. The conflict rages in both Tsara and Jou until the inevitable happens – to great peril – for both.
Ironic that I would say this in a book about demons and Hell, but oh, thank God EJ Frost pulls us back from the brink on our ledge peering into the abyss in her sequel, Blood Yellow. We learn, as we stand between here and actual Hell, that the distance between worlds is not as far as we once thought. In Blood Yellow, its’ confirmed that all our preconceived notions are revealed as the bullshit rules they are.
The fae, vampires, necromancers, and shapeshifters, alike, could be Baptist, Muslim, Asian, black or white, American or Russian. Doesn’t matter. Our peccadillos, blatant fallacies, and our own loving hearts are the very things we share in common – whether as characters on the pages of paranormal fiction or living in the mortal world.
In order to save all of them, and Tsara, they all band together, led by Jou.
“And then I realize that Jou’s done it again. Somehow he’s given me exactly what I wanted, despite my best efforts to fuck it up. ‘I’m sorry, Jou,’ I whisper. He grunts ‘for what sweetness?’ ‘Everything. Absolutely everything. I am so, so sorry.’ He takes a deep breath… ‘It’s okay…Everything’s going to be okay now.”
But it isn’t. Because we know how it goes as we grow and evolve, shedding outdated beliefs that are simply no longer true for us. It’s like sloughing off old skin. The struggle and war between maintaining the status quo or embracing new truths is not without casualties; not without difficulties. Yet we emerge, if we stick with it, and become something altogether new in the end.
Full disclosure, I read and re-read these stories about five times over the summer. As soon as I finished them, I’d start again, always finding and escape and always emerging with a deeper understanding of myself and the world we live in, the here and now. Oh, I so hope you do the same. Enjoy every word and then some. Thanks, EJ Frost. You so totally rock it – from here to Hell and back!
The enchantment of Frost’s paranormal fiction is that when she pulls us into the clutches of her story upside down, mind you, she suspends belief in this daily world we live in. Just as we acclimate to her new universe of shapeshifters, witches who call lightning, and demons with a soul, we’re called back to our day-to-day world. The luggage we bring with us, slapped with tourist stickers from actual Hell and filled to bursting, includes mementos for our hearts and minds.
Oh, yeah! Read Neon Blue and Blood Yellow. You’ll be transformed.