coming out · diverse characters · mental health · MM romance · new adult · Paranormal · sci-fi / fantasy

REVIEW: Scarlet Gaze by Foster Bridget Cassidy

The Official Description: After a paranormal encounter in his youth with someone from his future, Collin Frey sets his sights on getting to Marke Staple University. Now eighteen and with a full scholarship to the prestigious university, Collin hopes to find an explanation to that life-changing event. Unfortunately, it only leads to more questions.

Finding out he’s there to study magic is the first surprise. The second is his roommate, Terrence looks identical to the person who started him on the path to Marke Staple.

Collin’s more than willing to sell his soul to get closer to Terrence and uncover all the secrets hidden there. Can knowing a man will change after making a horrible mistake ease the pain of betrayal? Collin is going to find out.

Just the facts: M/M main relationship, magical world, fantasy plot, demisexual character, bisexual character.

Magic is in people’s blood and that kind of power can bring out the best and the worst in people. – Kinzie Things


My thoughts bit:  
“Scarlet Gaze” by Foster Bridget Cassidy is an interesting read. Let’s start at the beginning! The novel opens up with a flashback. Young Colin is in Colorado skiing with family when he has a strange encounter. He finds a strange coin that is imprinted with his face and the name of a school, “Marke Staple University”. Shortly after he finds the coin, a man with a big scar on his face and neck appears, seemingly out of nowhere, he looks drained and terrified and as he recognizes Colin he begins to cry and says he betrayed him.

As the man disappears, the course of Colin’s life is altered. He sets his sights on attending the school.

Time passes and while he remains obsessed with the idea of the man who appeared, Colin throws himself into his studies and gets accepted to the only school he applied to –  Marke Staple University. When Colin meets his roommate Terrence … he’s absolutely shocked to discover his roommate is the man that appeared to him when he was young. Is time travel possible? What is happening?

There are a couple of interesting things in terms of the characters in this book. Colin is demisexual. He reveals early on in the novel that he has thought about the man that appeared to him for so long that he feels an emotional connection to him.

Colin finds out when he arrives at school is that the university has nothing to do with English as he suspected. He has been chosen because of innate magical ability in his blood. It turns out that magic is in peoples’ blood. DNA is tested at birth and the strongest people are sent to magical schools.

It turns out that a magical practitioner’s blood can be mixed with alloy and made into a coin.. just like the coin that Colin saw in his youth. The coin enables people to access their magic easier and they are powerful. I’m sure you can see how the novel beings to warp back around to Colin’s original encounter with the stranger in the snow.

Terrence was my favorite character. He has always struggled with not being very magically powerful in comparison to his family. His father is actually the Dean of the University and the two of them are estranged. When Terrance was young he attempted something very foolish to try and improve his magical ability. The event terrified his family and is what left Terrence with the scar on his face.

There is a lot of interesting lore and history in terms of the magic and the author goes into quite a lot of detail in the classes the students take. I really liked some of the ideas. Magic comes in specialties like transforming, teleporting, healing and students figure out their specialty early in life. What about magic in the “real” world? The author even briefly touches on the ethics of magic which is interesting. There’s a reason that people with magical skills don’t just set up shop and perform magic for people. It might begin with a spell to help a garden or fix a car but what would happen is that it would snowball out of control. People would continue to want more. I enjoyed the way the philosophy and ethics of magical powers were explored in the novel.

The other interesting part of the novel is that Colin enters into a relationship with Terrence, knowing that he is going to betray him later. The thing is that Colin is so in love, so emotionally invested in Terrence that he seems to summon up a blind faith that things will work out… even when they seem very bleak. Ultimately, the novel comes down to what we want and need. Terrence wants to be powerful more than he wants anything else. Colin wants Terrence. The trick is who will survive.

The sex scenes in the book are well-written although sometimes seemed a bit superfluous. The plot of this book is really engaging and I’m not sure it needed as much sexual content. That’s entirely a personal preference though!

This was a good read! I enjoyed it – in particular the attention to detail about the magic in the world!

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) Family discord, demons, summoning a demon, mentions of blood and blood magic.

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of Scarlet Gaze by Foster Bridget Cassidy from NineStar Press via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

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