Jack of Thorns by A.K. Faulkner (Inheritance #1)
Can you change destiny?
Laurence Riley has seen the future, and all his visions are coming true. Just as he can't control the addiction that dominates his life, or the mindgames of his stalker ex-boyfriend, he also struggles with his untamed supernatural gifts.
Jack can help. His price is that Laurence keeps him fed with regular offerings of sex, but Laurence has fallen for someone way out of his league whose wild telekinesis keeps them even further apart, and his debt to Jack is piling up fast.
When he foresees the spread of a narcotic nectar that will leave a trail of death across San Diego, Laurence must find the courage to determine whether his visions are set in stone.
The past has taught him that the future can't be changed, but if Jack's poison wins, there won't be any future.
There's no time to lose.
CONTRIBUTOR(S): R.J. Bayley (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: Ravensword Press
LENGTH: 442 pages (11 hours 55 minutes)
GENRE: Fantasy, Romance
Queer Rep Summary: Gay/Achillean Main Character(s), Bi/Pan Main Character(s), Ace/Aro Main Character(s).
Quentin is an over-the-top caricature of British aristocracy, due to a combination of his little-discussed father's eccentricities and the way his wealth has insulated him from plebian realities. Whether he might better handle British slang is unclear, but he completely misunderstands the many, many American euphemisms for anything to do with sex or sexuality in a way that gradually makes it obvious that something strange is going on with how he processes the concept. Laurence is a recovering heroin addict who is being stalked by an ex-boyfriend, a situation which gets even weirder when prayers to his god for help result in Jack showing up on his doorstep, complete with a demand that Laurence feed him sexual energy.
I appreciate the choice to have a main character (Quentin) who is sex-repulsed and asexual (but probably not aromantic). I think it's handled pretty well, especially with regards to the friendship/relationship between the main characters (Laurence is bisexual). It's important to note that the villains are antagonists partly due to their disrespect of personal autonomy and disregard for consent, especially but not only with regards to sex. This means that certain elements of the plot revolve around unwanted sexual contact and conversations aimed at both main characters. There's also a focus on addiction and recovery, of working through the destructive patterns in their lives and trying to make long-term changes.
The only thing that irks me on a linguistic level is the term "psychic" being used for all of the powers exhibited. In one sense, yes, making plants grow and telekinesis are controlled through their minds, without direct contact. On the other hand I'm not used to "psychic" being used as such a catch-all term and I'm having a little trouble getting used to it.
I hope the sequels feature Quentin working through the mental blocks which are disrupting his life, but without treating it like he needed to be fixed with sex. Based on how this book went, I have high hopes that this will be handled well going forward, but I'll be keeping my eye on it.
Graphic/Explicit CW for gaslighting, bullying, disassociation, stalking, drug abuse, drug use, violence, alcohol, alcoholism.
Moderate CW for grief, vomit, child abuse, toxic relationship, sexual assault, sexual harassment, parental death, death.
Minor CW for ableist language, acephobia, pregnancy, sexual content, suicide, suicidal thoughts.