Review: Mythtefied by Camille Michaels

★★★★½ Mythtefied by Camille Michaels

Caelan was born with great expectations. As the mortal son of the great god Donus, Caelan was destined to live a life of enviable greatness, and to accomplish astounding feats; however, he was born in poverty, and given nothing in the way of divine auspice or protection. Seemingly betrayed by the gods that made him, we join Caelan at his beginning, his own uncertainty his first, possibly greatest foe in a battle against fate and the ancient enemies looming ahead. Will he protect his home, live up to his foretold glory, and join his friends in a happy ending, or will he fail and watch his unwritten legend fall apart? The gods are watching as Caelan and friends strike out their beginnings.

Mythtefied is a great new fantasy novel penned by newcomer Camille Michaels, going back to a classical setting of gods and their champions, and a lowly beginning for one of the greatest yet to come. The book is rich with detail, from mundane daily habits to the evocative scenes and stimuli present in every new moment and location in the book. The author nails the art of show-don’t-tell in her natural mentioning of minutiae, ever-telling of giveaway details and interesting quirks present in characters and situations. The book has a smooth flow to its storytelling and moves at a very satisfying pace despite a fascination with the small things that build into the larger portrait of events. There’s a very good balance and a brilliant awareness, topped off with a rather solid edit with only one or two moments in the read that could have used clarification, which is something even keystones of the genre can’t boast.

That said, there are a few things worth mentioning, though most of the issues with the book come down to the final touches rather than the story. The cover seems unsuitably plain and gray, and a revision in this area to be a lot more reflective of the story would do a world of good for the product as a whole. The book isn’t devoid of humor, especially about itself, but many of the jokes were poorly timed or otherwise delivered and often simply punched through the sense of immersion. The title definitely stands out and sticks in your mind, though the incorrect spelling/usage of the word likely will not.

The story borrows and blends, as many successful titles do, but it properly uses the old and invents the new, putting them together for a very solid, meaningful book with levity. It does well to build on a tested foundation and expand in sensible directions from there, and the result is something to behold. While a couple of aspects fall a bit flat, it’s a worthwhile read: evocative, expansive, and engaging, defying expectation where you might least suspect. A debut novel to be commended.

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