Review: Anna Wineheart – The Wizard by the Sea

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Author: Anna Wineheart
Reviewer: Diane
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Fantasy

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Summary:
On his tenth birthday, Connor trips over a wizard on the shore. Amidst glowing clovers and roses drawn in the sand, the wizard shelters him from the rain and promises to teach him magic. Three years later, they meet again, and Connor becomes his student.

Yates has never been a mentor—he doesn’t deserve the privilege. But Connor comes to him after a tragedy, broken and helpless, and stays for years. Without realizing it, they fall in love. Yates knows he shouldn’t: he has shaped this boy into a man. At a loss, he pretends not to notice Connor’s affections… until his nineteenth birthday, when they celebrate a hard-won victory and give in to desire. Ashamed, Yates banishes his student, leaving a hole in both their hearts.

Four years later and still lonely, a tidal wave sweeps Connor back into Yates’ life. When they meet again, he discovers that Yates has withheld secrets from him, secrets that could change his life. Their past is fractured, their future uncertain. But the one thing Connor knows is that he’s always loved the wizard by the sea.

Review:

Connor meets Yates when he is 10 years old, on his birthday, in fact, when he trips over him at the shore and after a rather odd conversation, learns that Yates is a wizard and Connor is fascinated. They cross paths a few more times, usually on Connor’s birthday, so when Connor shows up heartbroken and demanding a specific healing magic, Yates shows him other spells to help him through his grief. Yates does not expect to become a mentor, and based on his past, does not think he deserves such an honor, but Connor keeps coming back and Yates is reluctant to tell him not to.

The story is told from both Connor and Yates’ point of view.

This story takes place over 14 years, starting with a young boy fascinated by magic and the wizard he meets who looks like he might be 30 when in fact, he is over 200 years old! It is a character driven story of two souls who need each other, a need for friendship, companionship and when Connor is 13, a student/teacher relationship. As Connor gets older, and hormones come into play, he develops a crush on his teacher that also evolves into something deeper. I say all this at the beginning so people know there is an age difference to the characters, but also want to point out that the way the author has written it, you never get the sense of their age difference except when it is specifically mentioned as Yates does not speak or behave like he is centuries old, he has evolved. Also, with the age difference, it is a slow evolution process as they are more friends for the first years of their relationship, the crush does not come into play until Connor is 16 and aside from a kiss, nothing further until he is 19. That may be a spoiler, but I do want people to realize this is not a typical May-December romance, and it reads as very organic and natural.

Natural seems to be a key for the story too as the magic in the story is about tuning into nature, the language of the wind, the sea, the trees, the dirt, and the use of chalk, runes and celtic symbols. I quite liked that it was not about complex potions, ingredients or specific tools and I felt it worked really well for the story. I also quite liked that the town setting did not seem to see anything odd with a same sex pairing, as Connor gets older, he just gets asked if he has a girlfriend or a boyfriend, without judgement, as it should be!

This is the first book I have read by this author but I don’t think it will be the last, as I really enjoyed how the characters and story were developed where you could sense the bonds between the characters. They pulled me in enough that they had me crying in a few spots, it was wonderful to read how Connor would not give up on his Dad and the man he had admired still being there under layers of grief, which definitely contributed to the tears. And for the last few chapters, I could hardly put the book down!

What was not resolved for me, was whether it is being a wizard that has given Yates such a long life and does that mean anyone with magic in them will have that long a life too? Definitely not a question that kept me from enjoying the story, just something I wondered that was not really addressed. And based on this book, I plan to find more of this author’s work. If you like slow romance, May-December romance, in a setting with wizards that seems as natural as any occupation, then you will likely enjoy this story. There are a few sex scenes, but they are part of the story progression, are not overly graphic and are not the focus of the story, it is more about the characters and their relationships.

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