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Almost Surely by Gavin Jefferson #BookReview

When you control the fate of others, who is in control of yours?

Anthony Hopper is an Agent of Influence. He directs the lives of those selected by Watcher, the living embodiment of Fate.

Jack and Henry, twins, are the latest additions to the agency, and it is Anthony’s task to train them. When one abuses his knowledge of the future, Anthony discovers that Watcher is not as faultless as he believed and that those closest to him, including his soul-collecting confidante, Edith, may be conspiring against him.

Follow Anthony as he discovers the truth about his destiny, what to expect when life ends, and how the universe rewards those with good intentions.

Almost Surely book cover

Title: Almost Surely | Author: Gavin Jefferson | Publisher: N/A | Pub. Date: 23rd, October, 2018 | Pages: 244 | ISBN13: 9781980970941 | Genre: Urban Fantasy | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received from the author for review consideration

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I have to admit that I wasn’t too taken with the book at first. The cover is very…green. It does go with one of the running themes of the book. I do like the art on it but it doesn’t seem to go with the characters very well. They look a bit more creepy and skeletal than their book counterparts. For an independently published book, however, it is a cut above a lot that I’ve seen.

The book started with a very interesting visual of four different people holding their paintbrushes up to Polaris. It drew me in because it was different and it made interested in who they were, what were they doing and why? You get a few of these answers along the way but not nearly enough. I’d say this is one of the main flaws of the book. The world building isn’t complete enough. While I don’t need everything spelled out for me (for instance, I’m perfectly good with the way teleporters/time travel devices work not being explained) but I need a larger sense in how the groups function. We get a sense of them but I’d like more details on the others.

It’s one of the few books that I would like to see as a series. Well, not a series following one character, per se, but maybe each book focusing on the different “branches” and a character from each.

The characters in Almost Surely are great. They’re all very vivid and really feel like you’d like to hang out with them. Particularly Anthony, Henry, Bill and Edith. Anthony is interesting to be alongside of throughout the adventure. His reactions feel authentic to the situations he finds himself in. I didn’t really enjoy the character of Mother all that much. She seemed a bit cliche and is very mysterious when first introduced. When she is first introduced we’re told that Anthony has only seen her once and no one knows much about her except Bill. But later everyone and their brother is chatting with her, taking much of her mystery away.

There is one thing that I thought was weird. It appears that all of the Agents of Fate are male. The Collectors (Death) seem to be all female as are the Amour Agents. We only see one Agent from Gift but that is a male as well. A little mixing and matching would be interesting, I think. It could also use a bit more diversity, as well.

Most of my issues with it are primarily new writer problems but I believe that with some time they will be smoothed out. The writing and formatting are rough in spots and could use a little work. The author also falls prey to a common mistake. He’s so eager to get to the ‘good stuff’ that the world isn’t built up enough. Things get introduced rather suddenly and with little explanation. If the reader is going to suspend disbelief enough to immerse themselves in a fantasy world it needs to have some inner logic and ground rules. There are way too many times that things just seem to happen with no prior precedence or explanation. At times the conflicts are resolved far too easily (such as the mob debt subplot). When the Judges are introduced they sound scary and intimidating but since there needed to be an ‘action’ scene they’re reduced to looking pretty foolish and way less cool. I felt this scene could have been written a bit better to keep the characters more in line with how they’re presented.

My final issue is the mystery. A lot of things seem to be mysterious for the sake of mystery and conflict. Several times when Anthony is depressed other characters seem to keep a lot from him for no discernible reason.

Author Gavin Jefferson includes a trigger warning area in the back of the book (with a note directing readers to it at the front). I think it’s nice to see this catching on with authors and it particularly suits fantasy since it can be hard to tell what you might be in store for.

All in all Almost Surely was a really fun story and I’d love to know more about the world. Or even just some short stories featuring the Agents at work. You only see them on the job a few times and I really wanted to see what they were doing a bit more. It could use some work but I have high hopes for the writer.

Almost Surely can be found via Goodreads

Published inFantasy Book ReviewsUnstarred Reviews
┬ęSci-Fi & Scary 2019
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