Evenfall Volumes I and II by Santino Hassell and Ais

Series: In the Company of Shadows

Published by: self-published

Format: Mobi

Reviewed by: Judith

Genre: Sci-Fi, Romance, and M/M

Final score: 9/10

As you guys know, I’m kind of helpless at finding new stuff to read. Correction: seriously hopeless to the point where every few weeks I whine and beg and plead with Ellen, Onni, and anyone who will listen for recs of their favorite books. It’s annoying, I know, but a girl’s gotta read!

It was nearing that time again when a really intriguing cover caught my eye on the “best of” lists of one of my favorite blogs (namely Boys in Our Books).  It was for this book called 1/27 anthology and the cover was just vague enough to make me wonder. I had never heard of it and the BIOB “best-of” list is exasperating in that you can’t click on the photos and be immediately thrust onto the buy page of the book. But after a bit of investigative work, I discovered that 1/27 anthology was actually part of this series called In the Company of Shadows. And better yet, it was a many volumed series and was free! So I downloaded the first two halves of Book 1, Evenfall and dove in. HOLY CRAP was I not expecting that ride…

Plot: [from the authors] Years after the bombs of WWIII have changed the physical and political landscape, the Agency ruthlessly works behind the scenes to take down rebel groups that threaten the current government. Their goals justify all means. Hsin Liu Vega (Sin) is their most efficient and deadly assassin ever. However, he tends to go off on unauthorized killing sprees and somehow his assigned partners all end up dead under suspicious circumstances. That is why the Agency has had him locked up in a box on the fourth floor for years. But now they think it is time to put the psychopath back in the field. With a new partner.

Boyd’s mother, a high ranking Agency official, volunteers her teenage son for the position. Boyd is not afraid of death. In fact, his life has been such an endless cycle of apathy and despair for the last few years that he’d welcome it.

Can these two broken men form an efficient partnership? Can they learn to trust anyone, let alone each other? Sin doesn’t give a fuck about the Agency, or the androgynous boy who holds the remote to the shock collar that is supposed to control him.

On the other hand, Boyd is strangely unafraid of the man everyone calls ‘monster’ and Sin seems reluctant to let his keeper get himself killed on any missions. Yet.

Review: Let’s go back to my intro: HOLY CRAP. And I don’t mean that lightly: Evenfall is one hell of a wild, wild ride. It’s one of those books that’s very well-plotted and clearly thought out with an all-encompassing scope and breadth that’s difficult to find elsewhere.  The post-apocalyptic world Santino and Ais have created is nuanced and well-formed and you absorb it slowly through the eyes of the two main characters, operatives in a super secret government agency. Hsin ‘Sin’ Vega is the agency’s highest ranked agent, their dark assassin. The perfect killing machine with no regrets, no moral compass, and very little desire to play nice with others. He’s dehumanized and brutalized but continues to do what is required of him, namely killing. Boyd is the son of the Agency’s second in command, nominated to be Sin’s partner after he killed the last four. He has no training, no desire to kill, and no clue how he’ll make it out of a mission alive. These two are paired together and sparks fly…but not the good kind. Sin has to learn to trust when no one has ever given him reason to before. Boyd has to deal with a debilitating trauma from his own past while also struggling to train as a secret operative and an uncommunicative partner who can’t wait for him to crack.

Their relationship is brutal and tragic but ultimately hopeful. It’s also sexy as anything with very little of the emotional drama your typical romance holds.  I loved these two together and the slow burn of their romance will have you biting your nails and rooting for them to make it in the end. The whole book tempers romance, action, and intrigue amazingly well. One arc of the story never outweighs another and there are lots of surprises to keep you guessing. The end was a bit abrupt in my opinion but with four more books waiting in the series, we can all rest assured that we’ll be seeing more of these two.

Final score: 9/10 for one gorgeously written book.

Based on the following criteria:

How much did I like the hero: 9. Wait! There’s two! Boyd and Sin. Maybe they’re more like anti-heroes? Two guys trying to get through the kill-infused missions required of them by the Agency. They are totally different but equally alone and in need of human kindness.

How much did I like the love interest: 9Again, there’s 2! At the risk of channeling 2006, the romance between these two is off the hook! It’s riveting and sexy and you aren’t quite sure they’ll ever get there when bam! They do. The culmination of desire and want and the buildup of all their tense situations is oh so so so sexy.

How believable is the plot:  10. The plotting is amazing. These two authors clearly know how to interweave plot lines and not forget the minor characters or arcs.

How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 10. The world building is phenomenal! Seriously, guys, the ability to create a world as in depth and rich as this one is amazing. I’m in awe of these authors – they take us from the biggest, brashest action to the minutiae of every day life effortlessly.

How much did I want to keep reading: 10. I want more. Enough said.

Final Score: 9/10. 

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