Book Review – The Elemental Keyes by Sam Burns

Circle the Square #1
Publisher: Sam Burns
Pages: 231
Characters: Elethen/Blaze
POV: 1st
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Series

Today is the day the world ends.

Fine, tomorrow is the day the world ends, but is that actually better? My name is Blaze Keyes, and I’m a seer. Since I was a kid, I’ve known that the world was going to end on my twenty-fifth birthday.

But the day before the apocalypse, the most unexpected guy falls into my lap—or maybe I’d like to fall into his. Elethen is tall, handsome, a type of mage that disappeared from earth a century ago . . . and an elf. Also, he says he fell through a portal from another world, and I sort of believe him.

If I can’t save earth, maybe I can at least get Elethen home safe. Or if we can get my infuriating brother to work with us, maybe we can save everyone on both of our worlds. Maybe the world dies tomorrow, but damn it, I’m not going out without a fight.

The Elemental Ruins is the first of two books featuring a deadly portal between two very different worlds, a confused elven Robin Hood, an unemployed mage trying to deal with the end of everything he knows, his snarky criminal brother, and a few surprises along the way. It will conclude on April 13th with book two, The Elemental Ruins.

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I love books with portals that take place in more than one world. I liked how both worlds weren’t ours, and each was missing something the other has. The characters caught me immediately and I had to keep reading to make sure that Blaze and River’s vision of no tomorrow doesn’t eventuate.

I loved the twins, Blaze and River, and how their name reflects each other’s ability. Very clever. They also have very different personalities. I loved Blaze. He’s a good guy and someone who wants to make a difference. He and Elethen are good for other, with both needing someone who accepts them for who they are. I liked how Elethen has always kept a part of himself hidden, thinking anyone who knows will be repulsed by who he truly is. His and Blaze’s magic is very cool, and I love their connection.

River’s an interesting character. Like his brother, yet not. A criminal yet one of the good guys who will do whatever it takes to keep his brother and loved ones safe. I’m looking forward to reading his story in book 2.

I like how there are different layers of bad guys in this, and how the good guys are actually the criminal syndicate who work with River. There are plenty of bad guys, with Blaze’s ex, and his ex-police partner on top of the list of those who are truly obnoxious.

I loved the storyline, and worldbuilding that goes with it. Both Halana and the twins’ version of Earth are interesting. I particularly loved the mix of magic and technology on Earth

And that twist at the end? Nicely done.

5 out of 5 stars.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at
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