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Book Review: The Kitchen Boy, by August Li

The Kitchen Boy

The Kitchen Boy 2

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Kitchen servant Yoli is one of only three men who know a carefully guarded secret about High Commander Koehen, the brilliant general who united their lands against a common invader. The enemy wants that secret, and they are willing to use either kindness or cruelty to obtain it.

Yoli must decide if his loyalties lie with the commander, who has shown him more affection than anyone in Yoli’s life, or with his own best interests. High Commander Koehen’s attention is capricious at best—he summons Yoli only when it is convenient for him, and Yoli knows there’s little hope of a future together. Is a glimmer of a hope for love worth sacrificing a chance for prosperity beyond his wildest dreams?

First Edition published by Silver Publishing, 2013.

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Book – The Kitchen Boy

Author – August Li

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 126

Cover – Lovely

POV – 3rd person

Would I read it again – Definitely!

Genre – LGBT, Historical, gay, fantasy

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** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

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WARNING: I found it very hard to write this review without spoiling the story. So please beware that there may be spoilers ahead, though I’ve tried very hard not to let them slip in.

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Gosh, what can I say? This is my first August Li book, although I’ve got some others that I haven’t got around to yet, and I couldn’t be happier. Not only does the writing style work perfectly to tell the story to its best advantage, but the characters were fantastic.

The world created here was brilliantly crafted and well explored to the last detail. The threat of the Imperium seemed imminent and ever threatening, while their brutality was crystal clearly told in the story Vaald told Yoli, as well as their treatment of Yoli once he was captured. However, once Brunarius entered the picture, it became clear that there were always two sides to every story.

I absolutely loved Yoli, as a main character. He was interesting to read, always kept my attention, but he was also plain spoken and more perceptive than anyone had given him credit for. The way he looked up to Vaald and Koehen was adorable one minute, but also like love the next. I did leave off feeling that the relationship between Yoli and Vaald wasn’t fully explored; that maybe there should have been some challenging moment, to test how far their love for one another extended. Still, the not knowing is kind of sweet too. Because it’s clear that Yoli loves Koehen and that no one can turn his head from that love, even with torture. And Vaald did promise, after all.

As a second main character, Koehen was intriguing. His feelings weren’t ever as clear as Yoli’s, but that was also apt for his status and his troubles. His condition of what I presume to be epileptic fits, was perfectly portrayed with the right amount of sympathy, understanding and concern over it being discovered. The way that the condition created a bond between Yoli and Koehen was simply breathtaking, as the most tender moments of their relationship occurred in this time.

For all the sex scenes, which were steaming hot and nicely help to appropriate moments, I have to say that the most thrilling parts were when Yoli was conflicted, but unable to resist Koehen. The emotional chemistry between them was off the charts and it was both exciting and worrying to see it blossom, while Yoli didn’t know where his place was anymore.

Although limited to one instance, I liked the flashback of Yoli and Koehen’s first moment together, during one of his episodes. It spoke of the reason they had built trust and tenderness between them, while giving us an insight into how it all began.

Quite honestly, the way the story was told and brought us through so many different transitions of emotions had me spellbound. I was quite happy for Yoli to be in love with Koehen. Then, when Brunarious came along, so insightful and having such a profound effect on Yoli – and that journal entry! – I could easily have been convinced to let them live out their happily ever after, if that was how the story was going to go. Again, when Koehen wasn’t around and Yoli told Vaald he loved him, under the influence of his potion, I was easily tempted to let them be together, as well. None of this was because Yoli was easy, because that kid is a firecracker, but I felt sure that he would safe with any one of them and that he could live a happy, satisfying life with them.

2016 has been a year for a lot of books involving kidnapped characters, who are then tortured. I’ve read about 6 of them so far and this one has to be one of the best. It’s certainly up there, with my two other favourites of this year, holding an equal first place. The emotion, the charm and the characterisation are one thing, but creating a world that sucks me in on page one and doesn’t let up until it’s over, is quite another.

Congratulations August Li, you’ve just found yourself a dedicated fan.

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Favourite Quote

“He did this for Yoli, as the ultimate tribute. For Yoli, he offered his fighters, his cause, his stronghold, his victory, and even his life. He wanted to lay everything he had at Yoli’s feet and hope Yoli might accept it.”

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