I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Oh, gosh. I love this book. I just… I’m nuts about it.
I’ve been a Harper Fox fan for a while. She has a beautiful, deceptively simple‐seeming way of writing. I mean, her prose is never flowery and her characters tend to be pretty normal people who sometimes do really interesting things and sometimes just… tend sheep or something. But it never matters that that should all be a setup for something relatively dull, because there’s something magical about Harper Fox’s writing that makes it just, kind of… unbearably gorgeous. It doesn’t bowl you over all at once‐ it sneaks up on you until you’re all wrapped in how wonderful it is. And you’re in love with the characters and caught up in the story and it’s amazing.
And that’s how this book is.
I will say, ‘Cold Fusion’ felt a little different (just a little) than most of Harper Fox’s books. It’s exceptionally tense in places. Lots of places. It starts tense and ends just as tense, so even when it’s relatively calm and sweet and lovely in the middle, you’re kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop. There’s this sense of… apprehension, maybe. It’s very, very effective writing. But it’s also a bit stressful, more so than I’ve come to expect from Harper Fox.
The book starts with Mallory, a young man from a fishing village who’s seeking out adventure by working with an anti‐whaling venture. Right in the first few pages, Mallory’s recklessness causes a terrible accident that ends with two of his friends dead. He goes home in shame, but he doesn’t find any kind of welcome there‐ his father’s a violent alcoholic, his mother is afraid of what the neighbors will think, and the village is against Mallory because one of the people who died was a girl from there. He ends up going to Spindrift, which is kind of an artist’s camp. But it’s closed down, and the only inhabitant is Viv, a socially awkward but completely brilliant scientist who seems to have figured out cold fusion.
And then things get a bit crazy from there. It’s a very adventure driven plot, but it’s done so beautifully‐ it never feels predictable, it’s never boring, it’s never over the top. And, what I really loved‐ you can catch your breath. I’m not a massive action fan, and I loved that all of these beautiful, touching, quiet moments were deeply woven into the plot and the story. It’s action‐y, but more than that, ‘Cold Fusion’ is touching and sweet and, I thought, at its heart, a gorgeous, lush romance.
Aside from how incredibly, ridiculously stressful parts of this book are, I don’t think there’s a single thing I didn’t like about it. The descriptions of the settings are breathtaking. All of the writing is like that, really‐ taking simple things and ideas and scenes and turning them into something beautiful and wonderful, but never quite drifting into purple prose.
The characterization is amazing. Mallory and Viv were so real and alive, and so very unique. Mallory was almost, almost hard to get along with at first, because he’s so wrapped up in his own issues and his own wants, but he’s written in a way that makes you love him and hate him at the same time. And Viv experiences things and emotions differently than most people, and he’s wonderful and clever and sweet and I just loved him right off the bat. Even minor characters were incredibly well written. You could meet a character and, within a handful of pages, be completely in love with them, and I think that’s a real talent.
And I even quite enjoyed the stressful bits, so I can’t say I really had a problem with them. I mean, by the end of the book, I was a teary mess, and I kept putting it down, half because it was so tense, and half because I didn’t want it to end. The growth the characters experience is incredibly well portrayed, the plot is exciting and gripping and lovely… I felt kind of like the book had taken me apart and put me back together again. Sometimes you get a book and it’s sweet and fun and you love it, but it doesn’t, um, change you, I guess. But then sometimes you get something like this, that’s so good it rips into your heart and rummages around in your emotions and makes you cry‐ and on top of that, has writing so beautiful and effortless that it makes you, if you’re any kind of writer yourself, want to fling your laptop out the nearest window.
So… what that all adds up to, I suppose, is that I loved this, and I’d recommend it to anyone. And I can’t wait to see what Harper Fox does next.
You can purchase 'Cold Fusion' from Samhain Publishing: