Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall (Spires Universe #2)

Twelve years ago, Edwin Tully came to Oxford and fell in love with a boy named Marius. He was brilliant, an artist. It was going to be forever. Ten years later, it ended. Now Edwin lives alone in the house they used to share. He tends to damaged books and faded memories, trying to build a future from the fragments of the past. Then the weather turns, and the river spills into Edwin’s quiet world, bringing with it Adam Dacre from the Environment Agency. An unlikely knight, this stranger with roughened hands and worn wellingtons offers Edwin the hope of something he thought he would never have again. As the two men grow closer in their struggle against the rising waters, Edwin learns he can’t protect himself from everything—and sometimes he doesn't need to try. Because love doesn’t only leave scars; oftentimes, it heals them too.

CONTRIBUTOR(S): Will Watt (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: Dreamscape Media
YEAR: 2024
LENGTH: 304 pages (8 hours 52 minutes)
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Contemporary, Romance

Queer Rep Summary: Gay/Achillean Main Character(s).

While WAITING FOR THE FLOOD is technically a sequel to GLITTERLAND in the Spires Universe, the only overlap I caught is a reference to Max, a minor character. I loved the first third of WAITING FOR THE FLOOD and was a bit nervous for the remainder of the book when Edwin and Adam seemed to have reached a very happy place and a good equilibrium so early on. It turns out that the rest of the edition I read is filled with another novella, "Chasing the Light", which is a sequel to "Waiting for the Flood".

"Waiting for the Flood" follows Edwin, who is living in the house he'd shared with the partner of ten years who suddenly left him. Edwin hadn't seen it coming and thought they were happy, until, apparently, it turned out Marius hadn't been. Now, a flood is anticipated (the rain is already here), and a flood engineer named Adam is directing the emergency infrastructure efforts (sandbags, organizing people, telling everyone not to go through standing water, etc.). The story is themed around various rooms in Edwin's house, as conveyed through the chapter titles. Adam is steady and kind, patient with Edwin in the ways he needs it most (and several he hadn't realized were possible). Edwin has a stutter, and it frustrates his words (especially when he's stressed). He appreciates the way Adam (unlike his previous partner) gives him the space to talk, not rushing to fill the space with guesses at his words or cutting off his speech. I love their dynamic, and was frequently touched by the story.

"Chasing the Light" is a sequel novella from the perspective of Marius, the man who suddenly left Edwin after ten years together. It opens with Marius upset to see that his mother invited his ex and the ex's new boyfriend to Christmas. Frustrated and not able to express his feelings calmly, Marius takes a walk in the snow and slips next to the river, injuring himself. Leo finds him and lets him stay in his boat until he's ready to return to land, tending his injured ankle in the meantime. Their attraction is immediate, and they become intimate without waiting for Marius's ankle to heal. Marius has been the bad guy, the abrasive one, the one who can't just be happy for so long that the idea someone could like him as he is without trying to soften him is a strange one. Ultimately, he has to decide whether his time with Leo is just temporary, or if it could be the beginning of something new.

I love the way that "Chasing the Light" complements "Waiting for the Flood". In Flood, Marius is pretty unambiguously the bad guy, for all that Edwin has had trouble moving on from what they had. Edwin needs to heal and figure out how to be himself and not just someone that Marius left behind. By giving Marius's perspective in Light, it complicates the picture in a way that makes both stories better, creating a more detailed image of what happened, why, and what it means for both of them moving forward. It acknowledges that once you've been with someone for a decade, moving on isn't simple, and it doesn't require pretending that those years never happened. 

The stories are wonderful and moving, and I'm so glad I got to read them together. I'm very much enjoying the Spires Universe, and I'll definitely read more as I can find them.

If you like this you may like:

  • SILVER IN THE WOOD by Emily Tesh (gay, slow paced, yearning, communication issues)

Graphic/Explicit CW for grief.

Moderate CW for sexual content, ableism, alcohol, emotional abuse, toxic relationship, injury detail, medical content, medical trauma.

Minor CW for confinement, drug abuse, parental death.

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Two men kissing, standing in water up to their calves, the water is filled with the impression of rain


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