Broken Knight, by L J Shen...
This one sneaked up me. I figured I'd like it. I wasn't prepared to get consumed.
I'm not sure if it's considered teen adult or YA, or New Adult. There's sex, drugs, and a ton of angst. Some readers don't like books about angsty teenagers who are young adults making stupid decisions. This book isn't for those readers.
It's from the All Saints High series, which is a spin off of Shen's dirtier, more adult series, Sinners of Saint. I had a feeling this book was going to be devastating for me. Ruckus, the parent book to Broken Knight, is one of my all time favorite books, and features Dean Cole and Rosie Leblanc, Knight Cole's parents.
Did you follow that?
The MCs from Ruckus are the parents of the MC in Broken Knight.
In the original Sinner of Saints series we not only fall in love with Rosie Leblanc. We also fall into realistic worry. She has cystic fibrosis, with a guaranteed shortened life expectancy. It's a real illness with real expectations of a crappy outcome.
Now, with some authors we may feel some trepidation about the fate of Rosie, but in the back of our minds know the author will work fictional miracles and save her life.
But here's the thing. L.J. Shen tends to like to drag her readers' hearts through trenches of mud covered barbwire until they're torn open, bleeding and broken. She lets the raw, jagged wounds sting and fester into an agonizing mess before handing over any kind of healing balm.
I mean that in a good way.
I wont tell you the outcome of Ruckus or The Sinners of Saint series, but I will say it was bittersweet, and ended when they were still relatively young. Somewhere around their mid to late twenties. Early thirties.
So, when I realized the MC of this book, Knight Cole, was Rosie and Dean's teen adult child, I knew things were going to get real. And I wasn't wrong.
Reading this book is akin to tethering your ankle to a cinder block, then willingly dumping said block and yourself into the ocean, slowly sinking to the bottom. Slowly drowning. Aching to breathe. And just when you think all hope is lost, the tether is cut and you're brought to the surface, gasping in painful lungfuls of air.
But you're still not in the clear.
No, you still have to make it to the shore, while relentlessly getting hammered by crushing waves. Jellyfish repeatedly stinging you until you make it to the shallows. To hope. And with sand under your toes, and head above water, you manage to drag yourself to shore, so gloriously happy to be alive.
More gloriously happy to feel alive than you've ever felt, due to the struggle it took to get there. But more physically and emotionally spent than you've ever been in your life.
That's what reading this book is like.
Again, I mean that in a good way.
I didn't cry the most I've ever cried over a book--and believe me, there were points I blubber-snot ugly cried. I didn't connect to the MCs more than I've ever connected to characters. But I loved all the characters and was so drawn in to each and ever single one of their journeys.
Now, I also have five previous books of emotional involvement with all the characters in this book, so it cut deep. There are a slew of secondary characters. I was in the trenches for all the emotional ups and downs. I felt every single one of them. Shen has a wonderful way of showcasing emotional turmoil and misunderstandings from every angle. She loves ripping a reader's heart out, and I. Was. There. For. It.
But this type of reading is a form of emotional masochism.
When you get this beat up over a read and still want to go back for more, you're a literary masochist. That's what that is. It's reading books like, The Notebook or Me Before You or Ryan's Bed. It's willingly letting yourself be cut open and bleeding all over the pages, and asking for more.
And it's absolutely one of the most satisfying experiences you'll ever have.
So, are you a literary masochist?
What was the last book that tore open your heart and sewed it back together?
If you're heading into a deep read, remember to stock up on chocolate, have a snack stash, and stay hydrated. An all consuming read can take a lot out of you!