EARTHLY CONCERNS was my first but certainly not last novel by Xavier Axelson. There’s something disjointed about reading an eerie, shadow-filled paranormal under the bright Hawaiian sun, but Axelson did a great job of pulling me in and making me forget that I was reading at the beach.
Anson struggles with the classic gift-is-a-curse trope in a very realistic and understated way. Although his talent and the help he can render are integral to the story, it’s a paranormal after all, it’s his struggle to come to terms with his feelings for Barrett, the ex, that drive the story forward. Barrett needs help, but is beyond saving. Emotionally unavailable, he’s toxic to Anson. Their relationship seems as doomed as the child Barrett lost.
It is loss that finally helps Anson to reconcile his feelings with what he knows about Barrett in a climax that I thought would have worked far better if not written in first-person. My personal preference to generally skip first-person writing notwithstanding, I do think the drama would have been heightened if viewed through the eyes of the man Anson was trying to save.
If you’re looking for a quiet, eerie paranormal with excellent writing, look no further than Xavier Axelson. He does first-person exceptionally well, flawlessly showing us life through the eyes of his character (whose first name I totally fell in love with).