REVIEW: A Stroke of Brilliance by Nazri Noor
Arcane Hearts: A Stroke of Brilliance – Nazri Noor
The fragrance of chaos. The flavor of terror. The color of madness.
Jackson Pryde and Xander Wright are loving a life of hunting and harvesting rare reagents wherever the Black Market travels. But a routine trip to visit Japanese tree spirits turns up something sinister: two crystal shards, embedded in the bodies of wild animals. They’re familiar, glimmering, violet… like splinters of amethyst.
But that’s not all. Two rival guilds are in strife, Jack and Xander caught in a crossfire of spells and slander. SEER and its hundred eyes are still watching their every move. And then there’s the matter of meeting Xander’s parents, perhaps Jackson’s deadliest challenge to date.
The Chrysanthemyst’s return is the least of their problems.
A Stroke of Brilliance is a 70,000-word M/M urban fantasy romance with a HFN ending. Join a fast-talking artificer and a snarky sorcerer, childhood friends who become bitter enemies, then lovers, as they explore a world filled with strange flora, mythical fauna, and magical murders. If you like your urban fantasy with humor, horror, and a whole lot of heart, you’ve come to the right place. Experience A Stroke of Brilliance today.
Arcane Hearts is a series I like to think of as a shounen anime with a BL romance. It has the kind of scenes I’d love to see on screen, and vivid writing that makes them come alive in my head. With the majority of the world-building, and tons of info-dumps, taken care of in Book 1, A Touch Of Fever, the rest of the installments could focus more on Jackson and Xander’s adventures.
A Stroke of Brilliance follows partners and boyfriends Jackson Pryde and Alexander Wright, working as glorified errand boys for guilds looking for rare materials to use in their crafts. In one of their quests, they came upon purple crystals strikingly similar to the Chrysanthemyst that caused the fevers in Book 1.
This sequel has everything I loved about the series. Jackson still talks a a little too much for me, but he’s also more amusing now. He’s the last remaining Pryde of the defunct Guild of Artificers. The way he misses his parents is one of the more serious notes of the story. Author, Nazri Noor, created a clever way of making them come back from the dead, so to speak.
Book 1 has Jack pining after his frenemy neighbor, Xander, from the Wright family of mages and graduate of the super-elite Greyhaven Academy. Boy had it bad, and I could definitely see why. Xander’s adorbs! And their romance was pretty cute. Now that they’re a couple, the author succeeded in making them even more floofy! The boys are so madly in love, it’s ridiculous!
Speaking of Greyhaven boys, man, am I super intrigued! Total badasses and complete nerds, all of them! I am glad this is not about a magic academy because I’m tired of that. But the way Jack talks about the Greyhaven boys, he’s in awe but also considers them his rivals. I want more of them!!!
There’s the cocky SEER agent, Reza Arshad and his cool teleportation, and the Guildmaster of the Thousand Hands, Kaoru, who looks magnificent in his swooshy white robes. I’m low-key shipping the two.
One thing that makes me think of this as shounen anime is how each character has a signature magical power. Reza has the smoke thing going on, and Kaoru is the master of paper. Xander is on his way to becoming magic personified, and Jack has his gauntlet. As the series progresses, we’ll probably be introduced to more powers, which makes me go nuts because I love imagining which magical powers I’ll have. That’s what I tend do when I watch anime.
Not to mention the fight scenes! Holy hell, that scene inside the inner sanctum of the Thousand Hands was pure awesome!!! I live for spectacular displays of magic, and this second book certainly lives up to its titular brilliance.
And with these heart-thumping action, we have a gripping mystery, a bitter rivalry between two guilds, a secret hiding in plain sight, and family drama worthy of a soap opera. The plot moves the overarching storyline forward, with the threat of the purple crystals looming over everything. And even with the numerous side commentary from Jack, things move fast without loosing a beat.
Xander’s future is one I’m waiting on with bated breath. I’m half expecting him to become the Incandescent, a being of pure magic, something his horrid parents are forcing him to do because it is the Wright legacy. I love it when Xander completely unleashes his magic. The sad thing about it he loses part of himself every time he does it on his way to Incandescence until he’s nothing but a shell. I don’t want to Jack to lose the his favorite person.
A Stroke of Brilliance gives us all the bombastic action, humor, and magical fireworks while keeping the plot solid and making the romance even more squee-tastic. It’s a fantastic sequel that promises more thrilling adventures for our boys! All in all, a masterfully crafted tale!
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
Soundtrack: Light My Love
Artist: Greta Van Fleet
Album: The Battle At Garden’s Gate
Jackson and Xander’s adventures should be followed in order, starting with A Touch Of Fever.
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A STROKE OF BRILLIANCE
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SOUNDTRACK: Light My Love by Greta Van Fleet
Soundtrack to Arcane Hearts: A Stroke of Brilliance by Nazri Noor
Light My Love by Greta Van Fleet for a book about a magical genius forced into a box and the rough and tough artificer who showed him the world.
Can you light my love?
Flames glowing bright as the sun
Deeper than oceans you run
Watch as our world has begun
Your mind is a stream of colors
Extending beyond our sky
A land of infinite wonders
A billion lightyears from here now