“I live the perfect life and I do not take that fact for granted. You see, the problem with human existence is problems. When you have them, you must deal with them, because if you don’t you will suffer the consequences – potentially for the rest of your lives. Ugh, horrible. That’s no way to live. Me, if I have a problem I can either ignore it, deal with it in a somewhat more brazen fashion than you might choose, or simply leave. Move to a new body. Bam. No more problem.”
Frederick, A Warm Place to Call Home
When I first saw the book blurb and cover for Michael Siemsen’s A Warm Place to Call Home, I thought, “Great…another mind-numbing Paranormal Romance…nothing to see here, so I’ll just be moseying along”. Fortunately, I took the time to read the sample chapters. The story didn’t feel like the same old same old to me, so I decided to give it a go. I’m so glad I did. This is a Paranomal Romance for people who dislike Paranormal Romance (although devotees should like it, too). It avoids the clichés of the genre and is entirely fresh and original. It’s not a formula novel – in both story and prose, it rises to a higher standard. I say bravo!
The tale is told in first person by Frederick, a demon. Frederick can live only by inhabiting the bodies of others. He has a great time living their lives; at the very least, he certainly enjoys earthy pleasures. Unfortunately, the people he possesses don’t come back when he moves on. Frederick is upfront on this moral issue. He simply doesn’t trouble himself about it. Frederick is kind of a jerk.
So, what do you do with a first person narrator who needs to be sympathetic but is indisputably a jerk? If you’re author Michael Siemsen, you lure the audience into a tale that is by turns funny, intriguing, and complex, with just a touch of mystery. Throughout, there are plot twists that provide not only suspense but draw you in to empathize with Frederick and lead you to hope it works out for him in the end. Frederick is that kind of jerk – the one you like in spite of yourself, even as you’re forced to accomodate a demon’s amoral choices.
Although Frederick has robbed many others of the opportunity to live their lives, he has never been in love. He decides it’s an experience he wants to have. While shopping for a new host, he encounters a young woman named Melanie, to whom he is immediately attracted. He possesses her boyfriend, Joseph, after researching him in order to impersonate him. From there, he experiences his first romantic feelings and the caring relationships of a close family.
For the first time, Frederick feels like he belongs in the skin he’s in. He is even tempted to stay for the long haul – something he has never done and which complicates everything – if he stays, he has to fool Joseph’s family, coworkers, and particularly his twin brother, into believing he really is Joseph. This task will prove more difficult than he expected.
Frederick’s blunt, intelligent, and often wry observations on human nature and human behavior are right on target. He speaks honestly to what is human in each of us. I also can’t help but note that Frederick is a demon after my own Grammar Nazi heart. When researching Joseph by reading Melanie’s instant messages, he observes, “With deep anguish, I noted his inability to differentiate ‘your’ from ‘you’re’.” I know the anguish caused by misused homonyms. I know it well.
I’ve carefully avoided skating near spoiler territory for this book because your enjoyment of the tale will be found in discovering the author’s skillfully plotted narrative on your own. All I can say is that you will enjoy the surprises.
Although there are a large number of self-published paranormal romance novels written at a young adult level but marketed toward adults, A Warm Place to Call Home is definitely not one of them. This Indie novel is written for adults, and it treats its readers as such in theme, language, and having been published to a professional standard of editing and proofreading but for a few lapses in the use of commas. Only a Grammar Nazi, such as myself, would notice them.
I’m also not sure how I felt about the ending, although Frederick warns the reader right up front that, being a demon, he’s a liar. Depending on how you read it, the ending is ambiguous as to whether or not Frederick fihds a happily ever after — or maybe it’s not. You’ll need to decide for yourself.
The book isn’t appropriate for readers younger than 16 or 17. It includes sexual content and is written from the perspective of an engaging and charming narrator whose moral compass points well away from true north. However, if you’re old enough and looking for an entertaining read that lifts itself above the usual standards of the genre or just for a well-written novel where you haven’t figured it all out before you reach the end, I recommend you pick this one up now at Amazon at the very nice price of $3.99.