HoT Book Review – Vial Things (A Resurrectionist Novel Book 1) by Leah Clifford

Leah Clifford is a fellow indie author and I discovered her urban fantasy novel “Vial Things” through an online indie authors group we both belong to. I didn’t even know the book dealt with healing; I thought it just dealt with resurrection because of the series title. But here it is and I’m so excited!

Here’s the book summary from Amazon:

When the resurrectionists of Fissure’s Whipp begin disappearing, eighteen-year-old Allie knows someone is after their blood—or, more accurately, the genetic mutation that allows their blood to heal wounds, save lives and even bring back the recently deceased.

Allie knows staying vigilant means staying alive. She’s trained to protect herself by any means necessary. She even befriends a homeless boy named Ploy who unknowingly trades nights on her couch in exchange for being a human tripwire to those hunting her. 

But as Allie and Ploy’s feelings for each other grow, Allie realizes this time, she’ll need more than fighting skills and a sharp blade to beat a villain literally out for blood.

Protecting a girl he shouldn’t love, from a threat he understands too well, Ploy must face his past to save his future in Allie’s world—a world where bringing back the dead can cost you your life.

And here’s my review. But first, fair warning: SPOILERS! (duh)

I don’t often read urban fantasy and, to be honest, my life is pretty tough right now. What I really needed was a fluffy escape book. But I kept coming back to this book; it totally drew me in. Allie is a great heroine; my favorite: strong AND vulnerable yet pushing her way through the crap thrown at her, despite the internal fears and external events that threaten to keep her down.

And Leah TOTALLY HAD ME GUESSING at whose side Ploy was on. I had no bloody (no pun intended) until the reveal at the very end.

Now, the healing system in this book can get pretty gory. It’s mostly used to bring back people from the dead and it involves sharing the blood of a genetically gifted individual (like Allie) with someone who’s dead within a certain time of their passing away. Resurrectionists have to know how to fix mortal wounds as well. I kept thinking how could I even relate this to chronic illness and people who suffer from them?

And it occurred to me today that it was not the system of healing that mattered, it was the power struggle surrounding it. Leah builds a world where there are a lot of politics and tension surrounding resurrectionists e.g. Allie feels her gifts should be given freely whereas her Aunt Sarah and her friend Talia do not. Sarah and Talia help use their gifts to help others because they feel a sense of pride and relief in helping grieving people just, unlike Allie, they prefer to be paid for the use of their gifts. Contrast this with Jamison and those hunting resurrectionists who just want the ability to resurrect people for the power and prestige.

Shifting from urban fantasy to this world: who among us, especially the chronically ill, hasn’t run into both kinds of doctors? The doctors who really want to help you on your journey, who think through your problems, who feel a sense of pride and relief when you feel better? Versus the other doctors who have a wall full of diplomas in their office and wave you on almost as soon as you walk in. You barely exist. You get pills thrown at you and you’re dismissed. If you dare make a suggestion about your own treatment or diagnosis, you are scolded or laughed at.

I have fired doctors like that and I have wondered why they are even doctors in the first place. Is it the power? Is it the prestige? What is it? What changed that you didn’t end up like Allie, Aunt Sarah or Talia? Wanting to help others with your gift?

I highly recommend this book to fantasy and urban fantasy fans and, for people with chronic illnesses or on a healing journey; I think you will find some interesting perspectives.

HoT Book Review – The Elysian Prophesy by Vivien Reis

The Elysian Prophesy cover

The honor of reviewing this book as my first HoT (Heal Over Time) Book Review is really mine. Vivien Reis has an AMAZING YouTube channel that not only chronicles Vivien’s adventures writing her first novel, but it has some of the best writing advice out there. Her fingerprints are all over my own novel, especially when it comes to editing. When I was writing, I always knew I could rely on her for advice.

What I didn’t expect was that her novel, The Elysian Prophesy, would deal with both chronic illnesses and have healers – perfect!

But first, fair warning: SPOILERS! (duh)

Ben – my spirit animal! Son of a mother diagnosed with schizophrenia, Ben starts to experience an increasing number of symptoms right from the get-go. From visions of strange places to missing time to headaches, Ben experiences anxiety that he’s going to end up like his mom. On a personal level, I really related to Ben. I experienced each of his increasingly worse episodes right along with him. I watched him go from being anxious about ending up like his mom to ending up as a horrible bad guy due to a deal his mom made with a big bad when he was in utero and doctors determined fetus Ben was going to die (hello Supernatural fans, right?)

But back to Ben’s journey. For myself and other people I’ve talked to with severe mental illnesses, the anxiety of getting a severe mental illness can be all-consuming. It definitely was for me after I had my kids and other friends I talked to after they had theirs. The terror of getting post-partum psychosis just took over my mind. I didn’t want to end up like those moms on TV.  I so empathized with Ben, it nearly had me in tears.

As a migraineur, it cracked me up that the hospital doctors thought Ben had migraines. I’d love for there to be a magical explanation for my migraines, even was a big evil dude my mom made a deal with. Seriously. But also, (and I know one of the doctors was under the pay of the bad guys) but how common is it for doctors to just hand out a diagnosis and never look further for the real answer? So realistic, Vivien, thank you for representing us!

Myra – is one of Elysia’s healers, an Oracle. Oracles can be many things, healer just happens to be one. I really like that she and the other Oracle healers cannot heal mortal wounds, which is a stickler of mine; I dislike the fantasy trope that healers can heal anything until the plot calls for someone to die. I like that her healing required effort and time and that she listened to her patients. I also like that her healing had a cost and, at one point, she needed a break before healing again.

I can’t wait to see how Abi’s powers develop and if she’s able to rescue her brother from the big bad guy inside of him. And, the romantic inside of me hopes she and Jesse stay together. But most of all, I feel this book has some extremely realistic representation of chronically/mentally ill people and healers that avoid a lot of fantasy healer tropes. I highly recommend it!