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Courting Fate Review- A.R. Kaufer

Fantasy books?... Rewind ten years ago, I'd say the only fantasy books I knew would be those such as Harry Potter, or Lord Of The Rings. It was a genre I'd say I never really dabbled in. But what a world I missed out on for so many years.

Kaufer's debut novel 'Courting Fate' is Book One of the saga. It was a novel that I went into completely blind and innocent. Additionally, any book that I go to review, I never research into it and base my own views from that very first page...I hate a spoiler!

Take a glimpse below of what is in store before you get this wonderful book into your hands!

"Fate wouldn't be so cruel..." When she's not working at the bank or playing video games with her bestfriend, Ana's nose is in a book. She is comfortable with her simple life until one night, on her way home from work she is mugged and left for dead. Fate or luck, army medic Rafe was passing by and saves her life. Grateful as she is, she can't shake the feeling that she knows him from somewhere. Their lives become intertwined as she learns more about him and more about herself.
Is she ready to face the truth? Will it answer her questions or break her in the process? Ana must find her strength and become who she was born to be, before it is too late.

What I loved about this book is the fact that it was NOTHING what I was expected it to be. I'd say the 1st 1/4 of the book I questioned the stage to which it was going in, but my god. I did not expect the complete flip of events that were revealed. The novel itself was a slow burn, and if you're patient enough to deal with that kind of book like I am, it was so worth it. Strength, perseverance, innocence, loyalty, and loss are tough themes to work with, especially when it comes to writing fantasy. However, Kaufer ensured all of these were explored and portrayed with such depth, clarity and respect, especially with the harder themes such as SA, violence, self harm and suicidal tendencies.

At the beginning of the book we are automatically introduced to the main protagonist Ana. My heart warmed to Ana as soon as I read her. I wanted to climb into the book and hug her so tightly, because when I say she had some UNLUCKY events thrown into her already chaotic life, my god did she. I often wondered how she would cope or be strong enough. The novel flows slowly to reveal her darker secrets. Every other chapter we get a step closer into Ana's mind, the mind of someone who appears to be 'broken'. I felt as though I related to Ana quite a lot and I think many of readers would be able to gain some sort of familiarity to her. There was a fair bit of self-deprecation regarding Ana, sometimes repetitive, but as the novel continues it conveys her true nature, it was saddening, but we really get a glimpse into those who suffer with mental health who seems 'fine' on the outside. The constant self-deprecation can be kind of frustrating for the reader, but the author managed to express the positive sides of the character, and almost conveyed that it's a way of merging the gap sometimes through humour or desperation for those that struggle with anxiety and depression in particular. Ana as a character really portrays this use of a defense mechanism to cope with the future based on her traumatic past, even when things go right.

"The truth is, I fell for you the moment I laid eyes on you"

We then go onto meet the other main characters in the novel, Rafe and Kara. Rafe is patient, loving, kind, sweet and really, everyone's typical book boyfriend, just keep an open mind as it continues because I didn't expect the shock when it came to Rafe.

Impossible love is an attractive and powerful choice of trope, the desperation from the reader in the hope of a happy ending and the addictive power these themes can inflict on us always memorizes me. I adore Rafe and Ana's relationship and their ability of keeping their significant 'safe space' together. Again, another reason for a reader to feel included as we all have our own safe spaces...mine being in the bath or sitting on a step outside watching the rain with my headphones in. This novel reminded me of Romeo and Juliet, the tragic play showing us the consequences of forbidden love, and what it is like to love someone in a way that is shunned upon, or not allowed. Unfortunately for Ana and Rafe, originating from external forces not from the qualities or fears of the characters themselves.

Kara is Ana's best friend, her loyal companion. I adored Kara because she truly meant every word she said to Ana, she protected her, comforted her in her worst times and was a shoulder to cry on when she really needed it. Kara was also a character that I was so shocked at I ended up sending Autumn a selfie with my mouth open!

Book 1 is no doubt about it an emotionally charged storyline. a third person narrative where the reader watches not only the main protagonist, but other characters with a view of varying knowledge, an engagement which allows the reader to take in the story in an infinite number of ways. The best bit about Kaufer's writing for me was the use of internal dialogue for the characters. Written in italics, it portrays a deep insight into their thoughts, fears, self-esteem and general points of view. As a reader, I had the notion that the characters were confiding into their audience for moral support and sheer honesty. I also loved the LGBTQ+ relationships. Kaufer's ability to increase belonging, send a meaningful message and a true connection to readers conveying acceptance and encouragement, thus informing and educating readers about accepting differences and reducing stereotypes.

Overall this novel, a portal fantasy is in the top ten of those I have read so far this year. A story full of intense world building, creativity and imagination, stretching from Earth, to far away kingdoms and realms.

Fantasy literature is there to offer the reader much more of what general fiction offers, it offers escapism, adventure and a world full of contrasts and opposites, a true breakaway from realism.


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