”To live, to TRULY live, we must be willing to RISK. To be nothing in order to find everything. To leap before we look.” – Mandy Hale
Author: Kim Fielding
Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages
Rating: 4 stars
Blurb: Fiscal analyst Mike Carlson is good with spreadsheets and baseball stats.
He doesn’t believe in fate, true love, or fantasy. But then a fertility goddess whisks him away to another world. A promise has been broken, and if Mike is ever to return to California—and his comfortable if lonely life—he must complete a pilgrimage to the shrines of a death goddess.
A humiliating event convinces Mike to hire a guard to accompany him, and hunky Goran is handy enough with a sword, if a little too liberal with his ale. A man with no home and no family, Goran is deeper than he first appears. As Mike learns more about Goran, his disbelief wavers and his goals become less clear. Contending with feuding gods, the challenges of the journey, and his growing attraction to Goran, Mike faces a puzzle far harder to solve than simple rows of numbers.
Review: Please—read this review to the end! I am going to be very honest with you and tell you that this book, Pilgrimage, did not initially engage me. I struggled with the first few chapters and really felt resigned that this book was perhaps one that I might not enjoy. But—oh dear, readers—-but then this book took wing, and I could not put it down. So I ask that you read this entire review and then make your own decision about this novel, because if you read this opening paragraph in haste and think you, too, might lose interest if not immediately engaged, then I assure you that you will be passing up a real diamond in the rough!
The story has a clever premise but again, did not really break any new ground. A mild mannered number cruncher by day, Mike Carlson lived a rather drab kind of existence until he is visited from a goddess of another world, Agata, and whisked away to make a holy trek in order to save a village of people who had been doomed to never die. While Mike initially saw not dying as a bonus, he began to recall his own father succumbing to cancer and realized that these innocent people still got ill and aged but did not get the release of death due to a reneged promise by their ruler, Lord Meliach. It seems that Mike is Meliach’s doppelganger, and as such, might be able to fool Agata’s sister into lifting her curse on Meliach’s people.
Mike reluctantly agrees to taking on the pilgrimage to the various shrines he must bear sacrifices to in order to break the curse. Only by completing this quest will Mike ever be able to return home to his world again. Along the way, he is convinced to take on a guide by the name of Goran. Goran is a complex man, swift with a sword and simple of heart, and before long, Mike realizes he has grown way more than fond of his loyal companion. Perhaps, just perhaps, he has fallen in love. But what will happen when it is time for Mike to return to his world and leave Goran behind?
While this story began too slowly for me, and I found it difficult to engage with Mike’s character initially, it was the matching of him with Goran that really set this story afire. At first, I felt that Mike was a bit whiny, rather unlikeable, but then I realized this was deliberate on the part of the author. You see, this story, Pilgrimage, was one in which both Mike and Goran come to realize exactly what is important in their lives. Both men are holding on to past experiences and allowing them to shape their futures, close them off from living a full life, and for contemplating loving again. By shaping Mike and this story with a rather negative beginning, author Kim Fielding was able to highlight just how much Mike needed to let go and allow love to take root in his life again.
Perhaps this author’s greatest achievement, however, was the unfolding story and change that took place in Goran. Drinking his pain away on a daily basis, this lost and heart-sore man drifted through life alone, having lost his lover and his family in a wretchedly violent past. He drank to numb himself into believing that he was destined to be alone for the remainder of his life, and it was stumbling upon Mike and his pilgrimage that forces Goran to start believing that he could have something more…something better. As I watch him begin to understand that all was not lost, that he could find love again, my heart just went out to him.
So, you see, this is most assuredly an instance where persevering through what may have seemed like a slow opening to a novel really paid off. This story, Pilgrimage, was so cleverly written. Kim Fielding has a deft hand at developing characters that grow on you; slowly making you feel for them and wrapping you up in their struggles. I recommend you give this book a try—you will not be sorry you did!
You can buy Pilgrimage here: