Author: Xen Sanders
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publication Date: 5 September 2016
Rating: 5/5. Stars
Diversity: LGBT Characters (gay), People of Color (black, Haiti), mentally ill Characters (depression), faith (Voduo)
TW: Suicide attempt, depression, character death
Summary: Saint’s afraid to die. Grey can’t stand to live.
Grey Jean-Marcelin wants to die. He thought painting his passion—vivid portrayals of Haitian life and vodou faith—would be enough to anchor him to this world. But it isn’t. And when the mysterious man known only as Saint saves Grey from a suicide attempt, it’s more curse than blessing—until Grey discovers that Saint isn’t just an EMT. He’s a banished fae, and can only survive by draining the lives of those he loves.
All Saint needed was a simple bargain: one life willingly given for another. But as Saint’s feelings for Grey grow deeper, centuries of guilt leave him desperate to save a man who doesn’t want salvation, even if Grey’s life means Saint’s death.
When Grey’s depression consumes him, only he can decide if living is worth the struggle. Yet his choice may come too late to save his life . . . or Saint’s soul. And whatever choice he makes, it may shatter them both.
Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Grey, a third-generation immigrant from Haiti, is heavily depressed and feels empty. Not even art, which made the pain easier to deal with for a while, can save him forever. After a failed suicide attempt he meets Saint, a banished fae who needs life force to survive. The two men make a deal, Grey’s life to prolong Saint’s. This is the first time Saint has been open about what he is. He doesn’t know who made him this way, just that all his former lovers died because he loved them, but as he and Grey start to grow closer, he no longer wants to take his life, even if it will mean his own death.
Grey’s story felt very real, his struggle is not gone one day, his depression not cured by True Love. The long hard way of getting better is described, with medication and therapy as options. Grey also practices vodou, which plays a big part in the story as does haitian lore. It was fascinating to read and to see this religion presented by #ownvoices.
Saint is weighted down by the cost of his long life. Every twenty years he has to kill somebody whom he loves, or he will grow weak. Someday in the 18th century, he had woken up on the street, fallen in love and seen his lover slowly waste away. Again and again this repeated until Saint finally figured out that he was at fault for their deaths.
The writing was gorgeous. It was quite lyrical, but not in a forced way, which made the book very nice to read. The book also managed to show how serious depression is, without sugar coating it, nor making the book too heavy to read.
The book deals with depression a lot, which is incredibly important, especially since the main character is a black man. I also loved that there where trigger warnings and an epilog with helpful links for people who suffer from Depression. Depression and Suicidal thoughts are discussed in great detail but not romanticized. Same thing with medication and therapy. You could definitely feel that the book was #ownvoices, both in the romance and in the mental illness aspects.
I felt a bit disappointed at the big time skip, but I understood why it happened since most stuff during these two months was probably kind of repetitive. But I would have loved to see a bit more of them being together.
However the ending is amazing, and I laughed and cried a few times and I just loved the book! Definitely one of my favorite recent reads. If I could give it more than five stars I would.
Why I read it: A book with a depressed MC? And it doesn’t sound like a “Romantic Love Cures Everything” kind of story? Yes, please!
Do I recommend: Yes, absolutely. If you read (m/m) romance you should read this. If you try to read #ownvoices, you should read this. Just please make sure you read the trigger warnings. (Plus the cover is so nice?!)