From Brick & Darkness

J.L. Sullivan
The Wild Rose Press, Inc. (2022)
ISBN:  978-1-509240081
Reviewed by Terri Stepek for Reader Views (08/2022)

Bax is a pretty ordinary teenager. His home life isn’t the stuff of fairytales; he never knew his father and his mother works two jobs to keep a roof over his head. But he knows she loves him without question. He’s also not exactly popular at school, but he has one true friend, Jason. When an ominous stranger tells Bax that he’s brought a gift that belonged to his father and that this gift will change his life, Bax can’t imagine just how true that statement is. Bax explains it best:

“I had always fantasized something big would happen to me, like in a comic book. Something life-changing like developing a superpower, inheriting an island nation, or finding out I came from another planet. But I never envisioned my Something Big might arrive by way of a creepy homeless-looking dude.”

With this gift, Bax embarks on a journey both terrifying and enlightening. He’s such an engaging and fun character, full of intelligence, strength, loyalty, and hope- with a dash of self-deprecation. It’s easy for the reader to want the best for him and his mother. Bax’s friends Jason and Ashley are also great characters who bring different skill sets to their small triumvirate of optimism, seeking to help Baxter have the life he’s been yearning for. Then there’s the comic bookstore owner, whose enigmatic nature will have the reader questioning how much he really knows.

“From Brick & Darkness” by J.L. Sullivan is a YA novel that is profoundly entertaining. Most of us, at some point in our lives, wondered what 3 wishes we would ask a genie to grant. It’s an interesting mental game. Would we wish for an end to sickness and crime? Would we go the fame and fortune route? The possibilities seem endless, especially for a teenager, when dreams still seem within reach and hope is a constant companion.

As Bax, Jason, and Ashley struggle to set their world right, they come to grips with more than just an evil djinn. Their very concepts and perceptions are threatened, strengthened, and broadened. They not only discover more about the world around them, but they also discover who they truly are and what matters most.

“Superpowers came with weaknesses like kryptonite.”

I highly recommend this read, not just for young adults. “From Brick & Darkness” is a novel that transcends age and offers more than just entertainment, regardless of the reader’s maturity. It is brilliantly written with quick and easy prose that allows the reader to become part of the action. It is fast-paced, creative, and perceptive with a tightly woven plot that will have the reader wanting more. 

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