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Review of Blackmist (My Best Friend is an Eldritch Horror #1)


Blurb: Damien nearly ended the world. Now, his mistake might be the only thing that can save it.


Good things come to those who wait. Damien Vale didn’t, and he ended up bound to an Eldritch creature from beyond the reaches of space. It has lived since the dawn of time, seen the world born and destroyed countless times, and wants to be called Henry.


Unusual companion or not, Damien was still determined to go to a mage college and study magic. He wants nothing more than to live normal life as a researcher, but if Henry’s true nature is revealed, he’ll be killed.


To top it all off, Damien’s teacher is a madman from the front lines of war, his alcoholic dean suspects something is awry with his companion, and Blackmist might possibly be the worst school in history. Damien has to prevent the end of the world, but he isn’t even sure he’s going to make it through Year One at Blackmist.


Review: All Damien Vale has ever wanted was to learn magic. Hating that he couldn't summon a companion at a young age, he did so at 13 without training or supervision and received an eldritch horror. Henry, as It Who Heralds The End Of All Light likes to be called, slept for the next four years and emerged as Damien started his first year at Blackmist, one of the realm's mage academies. Damien must keep Henry a secret or risk both their lives, but letting Henry exist at all risks the entire mortal plane. Damien just wants to learn magic, but the weight of everything hangs over him along with surviving the first year of school.


This was a fantastic start to a YA fantasy series that has a fun and unique premise. I was attracted to the book because of the promise of an eldritch horror as a "best friend," and I was not disappointed. The Old Ones or elder gods or Void creatures are very Lovecraftian, but to keep Damien's sanity, the persona of Henry emerged and that is what Damien interacts with. And since Damien is a teenager, it is also how Henry acts, which amuses me greatly. A teenage eldritch horror! Damien is a clever and determined character, and despite everything he's dealing with, he just wants to learn magic. He pushes himself to his limits in repetitive use of spells to train and how to draw or cultivate magic as well as physical training. Henry helps him along, because he, too, wants to learn the things he doesn't know. I love the cast of characters. Damien's roommate, Slyph is my favorite, but I like Mark the wild boy and Delph the relentless professor too. There aren't any petty teenage school tropes which I'm so thankful for. There are also different types of magic compared to other books in the genre. Not just Dark and Light or the other elements, but Sky, Space, and Void. It's not a fast-paced story, but it doesn't linger either. I'll be picking up the other books in the series and see where Damien and Henry's journey takes us next.


This book is branded as a LitRPG, but it is not. It doesn't involve a game of any sort. This is Damien's life. He's born into the world of magic and he's going to school. That school keeps track of his progress with magic, knowledge, and physical stats; a report card, if you will. The fact stats are involved does not make it LitRPG. I think perhaps they didn't want to brand it as a young adult/coming of age fantasy because those are harder to sell. I still believe the premise is original, and both YA fantasy readers and LitRPG readers would enjoy it.


You can find Actus at Aethon Books and buy the book here.

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2 Comments


Elizabeth Hartman Seckman
Elizabeth Hartman Seckman
Feb 21, 2023

Finding the right labels is hard. You want to get your book noticed, but you don't want to gain the ire of a reader who feels duped by the label. It's like labeling a box of corn flakes with a cheerios label. Similar, but very much not the same.

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christinerainswrit
christinerainswrit
Feb 21, 2023
Replying to

I completely agree. Some genres overlap, but there are particular rules.

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