By: Reed Logan Westgate
Publication Date: April 29, 2020
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Date: June 7, 2022
A young woman who is able to harness energy from her nightmares, and use that power to try and prevent those nightmares from coming true is just the start to the action in the first book in The Baku Trilogy, The Infernal Games.
Xlina Dar'Karrow seems like a normal college student, attending the University of Maine. However, while she is human, she has special abilities that make her a rare individual. Xlina is a Dream Eater, also known as a Baku - she has nightmares every night and those nightmares have a tendency to come true. But she is also able to harness the energy from her nightmares and use it to fight the evil in those dreams as she does her best to prevent the dreams from coming true.
Within the first few chapters of The Infernal Games we meet Xlina's obnoxious neighbor Amber, a fellow student who is one of the popular girls, who knows how to dress, has the "right" friends, and attends the best parties. She looks at Xlina, who tends to dress like she's going to the gym, and has no friends, as a complete loser. The two argue all the time and Xlina can't stand Amber. And the feeling is mutual. But when Xlina has a nightmare that involves Amber, it looks like the dream eater is going to have to do something to save her annoying neighbor.
Having already engaged the creature that was in the dream going after Amber, and barely escaping, Xlina knows she needs help. Her social worker Valeria (who we will learn isn't exactly your run-of-the-mill social worker) puts Xlina in touch with a sausage merchant at the local farmers' market, Oxivius Soulforge. And like Valeria, Ox, as his friends call him, isn't exactly your typical merchant. There's a dark side to him which is revealed to Xlina when they go after the creature who plans to have Amber for lunch, and while they don't hit it off as friends, Xlina and Ox do manage to destroy the creature.
It's at this point that Valeria re-appears and reveals her true self to Xlina - she's a demon. And in a dramatic encounter, Valeria "marks" and "binds" Xlina, forcing the young girl to basically do Valeria's bidding. After recovering from the encounter, Xlina is desperate to find a way to remove the mark. Enlisting the help of Ox, the two, along with Amber, are soon on the run, fleeing from demons, as well as others sent to destroy Xlina. The tension increases as a battle looms...
It's been a while since I've become so invested in the characters in a fantasy novel. So many fantasy stories seem to get carried away with world building, and offering up such a big cast of characters that it's hard to keep track. But The Infernal Games had just the right mix of interesting characters, cool and devious creatures, vivid descriptions of the realms characters travel to, and believable dialogue. The main characters evolve as the story progresses, and I found myself liking Amber more and more as the story neared its conclusion. Ox was probably the most interesting character as he was a necromancer (one who practices the dark arts), but yet he does things that a reader wouldn't expect of a necromancer. And soon Ox is just as involved in the fight as Xlina and finds himself helping because...well, you need to read The Infernal Games to see what happens to Ox, Xlina, Amber, and Valeria, the demon you'll love to hate as well as a full cast of interesting characters that will have you eager to get your hands on the next book in the trilogy.
Quill says: The Infernal Games is a fantastic start to The Baku Trilogy. I can't wait to read the next book in this series, Dirge of the Dead.
For more information on The Infernal Games (The Baku Trilogy Book 1), please visit the author's website at: www.rlwestgate.com