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REVIEW: Bright Spark, by Alex Silver

Title: Bright Spark

Series: Psions of Spire Book One

Author: Alex Silver

Genre: Paranormal

LGBTQ+ Category: M/M

Publisher: Self

Pages: 368

Reviewer: Ulysses, Paranormal Romance Guild

Get It On Amazon

About The Book

Sometimes growing up means giving up your preconceptions.

Aaron Anderson and Jake Matthews were childhood sweethearts until Aaron developed psionic abilities that turned both of their worlds upside down and tore them apart.

Six years later they reconnect when Aaron returns home to work with a youth summer camp affiliated with SPIRE. Jake is at the same camp, along with his current partners, to protest the organization funding it. Sparks fly when the couple reunites and Aaron discovers hidden abilities that bring him to the attention of SPIRE.

Aaron and Jake have every intention of seizing their second chance at love. But once more, forces outside their control are at play. And the organization Aaron believes in is at the center of events targeting vulnerable youth.

This M/M urban fantasy contains an open M/M/M relationship as well as an M/M relationship.

The Review

“The only missing piece was my best friend at my side.”

Aaron Anderson and Jake Moretti have been friends and neighbors all their lives. At seventeen, their friendship suddenly, almost on a whim, changes. Then, just as suddenly, it all changes again. 

This novel started out feeling like a YA novel, and then became something significantly more adult. The author lays down a rather striking premise in which the emergence of psychic powers during adolescence has engendered a whole world of unjust laws and cultural prejudice for the children who develop those powers. Called psions, these young people are faced with challenges that “norms” don’t face. 

It’s a very interesting idea – displacing the gay dilemma with another one, and playing with all the parallel narrative potential offered by such a sci-fi/paranormal hook. At first I was puzzled by the introduction of a polyamorous gay couple into the plot, but then it all began to make sense as the author expanded on the nature of psions and their very particular physical and emotional complexities. One of the cleverest things about this book is the carefully rationalized explanations of what being psion is. Good sci-fi has to be plausible, and Silver does this well.

In retrospect, I was a little disappointed that a story about cultural prejudice, in which the whole range of LGBTQ+ identity is honored and incorporated into the plot, somehow entirely misses ethnic variety. Jake is Italian and Aaron is a pale-skinned redhead. There are no people of color, which seems a weird lack in a book so focused on the acceptance of diversity. 

Another complaint I have to voice is not a rare one in the world of gay romance. The book is riddled with grammatical errors that an editor should have caught. Then again, just between you and me, maybe it’s a losing battle. 

But set these flaws aside. “Bright Spark” is a fascinating adventure that carries a lot of emotional weight and kept me up late reading. I’ve already bought the second book in the series. 

The Reviewer

Ulysses Grant Dietz grew up in Syracuse, New York, where his Leave It to Beaver life was enlivened by his fascination with vampires, from Bela Lugosi to Barnabas Collins. He studied French at Yale, and was trained to be a museum curator at the University of Delaware. A curator since 1980, Ulysses has never stopped writing fiction for the sheer pleasure of it. He created the character of Desmond Beckwith in 1988 as his personal response to Anne Rice’s landmark novels. Alyson Books released his first novel, Desmond, in 1998. Vampire in Suburbia, the sequel to Desmond, is his second novel.

Ulysses lives in suburban New Jersey with his husband of over 41 years and their two almost-grown children.

By the way, the name Ulysses was not his parents’ idea of a joke: he is a great-great grandson of Ulysses S. Grant, and his mother was the President’s last living great-grandchild. Every year on April 27 he gives a speech at Grant’s Tomb in New York City.

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