Miranda Stead knows that something is wrong. She is very familiar with this area of San Francisco, and yet the parking lot where she left her car seems to have disappeared. The area is never completely deserted, and yet Miranda sees no one, hears no one. No one except the three men who are rapidly catching up to her, with menace on their minds.
Very alarmed, Miranda casts about for a safe haven and spies light coming from under a wooden door. She quickly enters, and finds herself in the midst of a very strange gathering. Hooded figures stare at her entrance in disbelief. Their shock turns to suspicion and Miranda is wondering if she was better off outside.
This “Alice down the rabbit hole” beginning is just the right opening for When You Believe, the debut book in a new fantasy romance series by Jessica Inclan. The reader needs to feel the confusion and near terror that Miranda is experiencing in order to appreciate the strange and fantastic events that follow. Miranda, a poet, finds herself in the midst of magic and danger when she meets members of Les Croyant des Trois, an ancient people committed to saving the world from a power-mad sorcerer. Her rescuer, Savier Valasay, is a powerful Croyant, with abilities that range from healing to the extreme opposite. Savier is the one that is called when someone abuses their powers and must be subdued or destroyed.
Savier really doesn’t have time to spend playing nursemaid to a simple human woman, a Moyenne. Urgent matters demand his full attention. And yet he is drawn to Miranda, almost as though he has met her before, an attraction that he cannot explain.
When You Believe shows us the outstanding world-building skills of Ms. Inclan. She has created a fully-formed alternate reality and her boundaries are clear and well-ordered. Readers can appreciate the fact that the explanations are succinct, and that the author keeps her characters firmly grounded in this reality. I am looking forward to the remaining books in the series.