The deep lore that backs Essence & Existence makes it a vibrant urban fantasy.
Concluding an epic trilogy, B. & T. Pecile’s urban fantasy novel Essence & Existence finds siblings trying to save the world while staying true to themselves.
After escaping from the corrupt clutches of the Vatican, Khia reunites with her long-lost brother. The two begin traveling toward a safe haven, drawing friends and allies to their side. Khia’s troubles are far from over, though; she confronts her inner demons and works to define herself, even as she continues to master her fantastical powers. Khia’s decisions will echo throughout all of the worlds that are connected by the mysterious and magical Corridor of Doors.
A fast, involving character study, the book concentrates on how Khia is thrust into her power role. Her development is organic; she is a different version of herself by the end of the book, and her changes are compelling. The story also concerns dynamics within her biological and incidental families, the latter forged on the fields of battle. However, there’s little information about her previous adventures included; key scenes are less impactful because characters’ relationships are not clear.
The book’s worldbuilding is intricate and deep, drawing urban fantasy and world mythology elements into its own cohesive and engaging lore. Scenes in which a comatose woman consumes a mythical book and embarks on an inner journey of redemption are both strange and compelling.
Dynamic characters anchor and propel the plot. Khia and her allies’ escapades connect and intertwine, despite their initial distance; several of these intersections result in surprising developments. Characters play against tropes, as with the demons who seem stoic at first but who end up delivering wisecracks and making mistakes, though they are powerful and intelligent. One demon delivers snarky comebacks that help to highlight key moments in the text.
Though the story moves fast, its quiet moments between Khia and her brother capture their mutual affection. When its focus is on snappy banter and action, the book races ahead. Khia faces dark situations that are captured with gravitas; the stakes mount as she faces a looming threat.
The conclusion teases captivating developments in the characters’ lives, including a wedding. Where the main characters are concerned: the major dangers that she and her brother face hint to Khia’s potential future adventures. Still, it’s the deep lore that backs Essence & Existence that makes it such a vibrant urban fantasy.
John M. Murray
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