Title: Stepping Through
Author: CJane Elliott
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 52 Pages
Rating: 2 Stars
Blurb: Cameron Wheeler’s life is all mapped out: he’ll finish business school, return home to Vermont, get a job, and marry his high-school girlfriend. He’s packed away what he really wants—a career as a musician—because he knows it’s never going to happen. But Cameron’s well-planned life is turned upside down when he walks into a musty jewelry shop in LA and meets the mysterious Apollo, who tells him to “follow his soul, not his past.” Apollo’s magical presence spurs Cameron to discover and follow his true path, in life and in love.
Review: I picked up Stepping Through because I love reading books containing mystical, supernatural, or sci-fi elements. The fantasy is what I go for, and I’m pretty open to suspending my grip on reality when reading…after all, reading is an escape to another world.
But there has to be a degree or believability in every story, even those whose premise is based in fantasy. There must also be a storyline that carries through. Characters must be developed so the reader cares about them, understands them, and hopes for their happy ending. Tension must rise and fall in ways that make sense to the reader, logical progressions of emotions and feelings we can follow and relate to. In the absences of these elements, stories lack structure, depth, and are frustrating since we don’t really care about what happens.
Unfortunately, CJane Elliott missed the mark with this book. Cameron is a musician attending business school in LA. He enters a jewelry shop looking for a ring for his upcoming wedding to his girlfriend back home in Vermont. On page 3 we get some history:
“Sarah’s home in Vermont. That’s where I’m from. I’ll be moving back there after I finish business school. We’re getting married this summer.”
Two pages later Cameron is experiencing a deep connection to Apollo, the mysterious owner of the shop:
As Cameron froze in disbelief at what was happening, Apollo pinned him with his gray-green eyes and pulled his hand closer, then dropped his gaze. As if in a dream, Cameron noted Apollo’s insanely long eyelashes. Then Apollo pressed his lips against Cameron’s palm, and everything went fuzzy
Home. Something was calling to him, like the voice of a beloved companion who had waited for him for years. The drawbridge had lowered, he’d crossed over the moat where the dark creatures lurked, and he was home.
For the remainder of the book, Cameron is captivated by finding Apollo, giving up on Sarah, abandoning the life he’d planned, and pursuing his dreams of becoming a musician. When someone who believes they are straight (or are trying to live a straight lifestyle) suddenly switches teams, I need to know why. I need to feel the emotional pull and understand the history so I can feel for the character and hope for their happiness.
Cameron was flat for me. He broke up with Sarah, avoided discussing his sexuality with his friend, and made a brief reference to attraction to one guy in high school and how being with Sarah made him feel safe and secure (not an appealing trait in a character to use someone like that). He abandoned his business school degree to pursue his music, but even that fell flat for me. The music in his soul seemed inspired by Apollo (which is one of Apollo’s roles as a Greek god), but I never fully understood what it was about music that moved Cameron. There were no descriptions of his song writing that were drawn out to touch my heart and make me feel his passion.
Altogether too convenient and unbelievable, this is not a story I can recommend. I rated it as 2 stars after reading other reviews on this site to see where my comments fell. In reading 2 star reviews, my experience with this book seems to fall into that range, although I was toying with a 1.5.
You can buy Stepping Through here: