Audiobook review: Bright Familiar by Jeffe Kennedy
Bright Familiar begins immediately following the conclusion of the first book, Dark Wizard. Gabriel and Nic are in their chambers at House Phel following their bonding ritual. They have received missives demanding her return and begin to make lists of what needs to be done to return House Phel to its former glory. This is the middle book in a trilogy and should not be read as a standalone story.
Bright Familiar is a good middle-book story that allows readers to spend time inside the heads and hearts of the two main characters as both characters grow and develop. The magic and sexual nature of their bond evolves tremendously over the course of the book. I enjoyed really getting to know each and watching their core beliefs slowly morph to more common, new ones. Nic is really starting to believe Gabriel’s mantra that familiars don’t have to be slaves to their wizards. Gabriel is starting to realize that he can dominate over Nic without breaking her, and that his “dark sexual thoughts” aren’t bad ones.
While I enjoyed it overall, the story is slow moving. There is very little action or conflict, other than the pair constantly debating the nature of the Familiar-Wizard bond, the rules of the Convocation, and how things “should be.” While I found their debates and philosophizing interesting, it became repetitive after a while, and I really wanted them to move past it. However, with each discussion there are changes in both characters, so while I wanted fewer debates, they have value. I would have preferred a better balance of action and philosophy.
Being a middle story, the book ends a bit abruptly and with much left unfinished. I knew this would be the case going in, but it is always a little jarring. I don’t know if there would have been a better place to conclude the story, so I’m okay with it. However, with only one book left, I have to wonder how the author will conclude so many open plot points. Again, I wish there had been a bit more in this book.
I really liked that Nic and Gabriel seemed to be uncovering a very large conspiracy plot involving her father and House Eledrel. I also loved that the newly acquired junior wizards are already standing behind Gabriel. It’s a great set up for a stand off with the convocation.
Narration: The story is shared via the alternating third person POVs of Gabriel and Veronica. Using a British accent, Ms. Balm narrates the entire story with a deepish and slightly raspy voice. Overall, her performance is soothing and easy to listen to. Giving a partially-voiced reading, she adjusts the dialogue for most characters, albeit just enough to know different characters are speaking. She tends to be a little higher pitched for females, and softer and lower for males. She adjusts appropriately for mood and emotion, especially with Nic. Now that I’m comfortable with her narrative style and voice, I sped up the playback to 1.4x about midway through the book.
Bright Familiar is an important addition to the Bonds of Magic series, giving listeners a lot of insight into the world and workings of Wizards and Familiars. While I felt it was a bit slow at times, the story kept me interested in the series and I look forward to seeing how it all comes together in the next book.
About the Book:
He wanted her with consuming passion… and so did the monster within.
Lady Veronica Elal has been freed from her tower—and entered a life of servitude. It doesn’t matter that her wizard master has odd ideas about circumventing Convocation tradition and making their relationship equal. Nic prides herself on her practicality and that means not pretending her marriage is full of hearts and flowers. Besides she understands that, despite her new husband’s idealism, they face obstacles so great the pair of them could be crushed to nothing, even without dashing themselves brainless trying to fight the Convocation.
Lord Gabriel Phel has come this far against impossible odds. He was born with powerful wizard magic, the first in his family in generations. He’s managed to begin the process of reinstating his fallen house. And—having staked his family’s meager fortune to win a familiar to amplify his magic, a highborn daughter to be mother to his children, his lady, and lover—he rescued Nic in a distant land, successfully bringing her home to House Phel. Though she’s cynical about their chances of success, he’s certain they can defy their enemies and flourish. Together.
But, the more Gabriel discovers about working with the fiery Nic, attempting to learn the finer points of wizardry and marriage, the more illicit fantasies plague him. His need for Nic—and the dark cravings she stirs in his black wizard’s heart—grow daily. Though Nic has reconciled herself to being possessed by Gabriel—and indeed yearns for even more from her brooding and reluctant master—creating a new life for herself isn’t easy. Especially when Gabriel seems determined to subvert the foundation of her world. Starting with her father.
Author: Jeffe Kennedy
Narrator: Deborah Balm
Series: Bonds of Magic #2
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Audiobook Release Date: April 1, 2022
Publisher: Brightlynx Publishing
Length: 10 hrs and 42 mins
Audio Speed: 1.2x – 1.4x
Audible/Amazon (affilate link)
Reviews in the Series:
Dark Wizard by Jeffe Kennedy (Bonds of Magic #1)