Guest Review: The Amaranth Maze by Hayden Thorne

A legend of a long-dead murderer buried in a mysterious maze. A cruel, childish trick gone wrong. A dangerous vow made in trust by a shy and lonely young boy. And somewhere in the idyllic Swedish countryside, a centuries-old entity is summoned from its thorny grave.

Fourteen years later, twenty-two-year-old Fredrik Niequist returns from his travels, a brilliant financier who intends to break new ground in the Swedish agricultural industry by commercializing local nature magic. He is also newly engaged to a wealthy childhood friend in a cynical and loveless partnership.

Twenty-year-old Lauris Ahlberg, meanwhile, turns his mind to botany as a promising apprentice to an English botanic occultist. As he studies a flower species displaying marks of the night world, he realizes the tainted flowers’ sudden appearance near his home and the ominous pattern they form signify a terrifying presence coming from a familiar source.

When Fredrik and Lauris cross paths again, old wounds break open, and promises of forever after ring hollow as the two awkwardly rekindle their friendship. And in the meantime, a creeping threat takes physical shape, breaking past its prison of thorns in order to lay claim to what has long belonged to it.

Guest Reviewer - NeRdyWYRM

Decidedly Strange

This book made me realize that pseudo-historical paranormal m/m is not my cup o tea. That's not to say this wasn't a good story or that it wasn't interesting or entertaining—because it was—but it was a struggle for me to reconcile the world the author created with my inner realities.

In this one you have a hidden society of witches/wizards with proclivities towards certain types of mostly benign magic. The MCs run afoul, through a childhood prank, of a dead serial killer who is haunting a maze in search of an eternal 'bride'. It takes years for things to come full circle, but Fredrik and Lauris get caught up in it's attentions again, which remain fixed firmly on Lauris.

No. No vampires here. Blood-sucking vines, yes, okay. But seriously, what's more creepy than a dead serial killer with his hooks in a very sweet earth wizard? Ugh.

Friendship between Fredrik and Lauris (despite childhood cruelties) turns into a relationship hounded by classism and elitism and a bunch of other -isms. Denial is a factor and, of course, don't forget the powerful ghost with nefarious and deadly intentions. Blood-sucking roses have got nothing on that fucker.

This one wraps up in true, "love conquers all" fashion, which is one point in this story's favor. It was well-written, the pacing was good, and I liked the MCs together. There were also enough paranormal twists to make this one interesting and while I would have liked to understand the purpose of the hidden magical society of this world a little better, it didn't take too much away to not be privy to many of the particulars.

If you like unique paranormals with a historical twist, this is a good one to pick up and read. It highlighted a subset of the genre that just isn't for me, but only because it doesn't tickle all my braingasm spots and not for any other reason. I liked the plot on paper and the execution was perfectly fine, but I think I'll skip similar books in future. Let us know what you think. I'd be interested to find out.

More reviews by NeRdyWYRM can be found on Goodreads here.
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An ARC copy of this title was provided for an honest review.

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