A Call to Evil

The Year Reality Broke - Book II

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
506 Pages
Reviewed on 05/04/2023
Buy on Amazon

    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

A Call to Evil is the second book in The Year Reality Broke by Russell Cornhill. The story of Lukas and Dane continues as they move on to the next big hurdle in their way, the Ultimate Evil. The God of Myth and the God of Everything were happy with how things were going. Their planning looked foolproof, but that didn’t mean things were going well for Lukas and Dane. Both were tasked to rescue Lukas’s siblings Tomas and Lizabeth, and Lukas was ready to risk everything to get them back. While Lukas desperately searched for his siblings, Dane was confused with his world and questioned everything. With the enemy sniffing at their heels, both have their work cut out. Regardless of how they feel, they need to finish the quest, and for that, they have to traverse dangerous lands and encounter deadly adversaries to get the job done. Do they have what it takes?

What a sequel! The first novel, An Ancient Evil, was fantastic, and at that moment, I felt it would be a tough act to follow. However, Russell Cornhill outdid himself with A Call to Evil. I was hooked on the story from the beginning and loved every moment. I took my time and stopped myself from finishing it in a single sitting to savor it. Lukas and Dane have grown a lot, and both have become sharper. I loved how Lukas was focused on getting Tomas and Lizabeth back while Dane was second-guessing everything around him. He could tell something was wrong and not how it should be. I enjoyed the narrative style. Russell Cornhill breathes life into the narrative and ensures we are transported right next to his characters. The pace is perfect, the development is fantastic, and the ending is mind-blowing. I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Asher Syed

Russell Cornhill delivers book number two in the original fantasy trilogy The Year Reality Broke with A Call to Evil. Cornhill moves away from the traditional fray in this three-pronged point-of-view saga by setting it in the making of and the characters who inhabit a video game. The game makers, referred to as The Gods, control every aspect of what happens to the parallel main characters. The characters in the game have their exploits in tandem, going so far as entering the same areas, although developed to a higher and lower standard, in overlapping quests that are not fully conjoined. Lukas is the designated champion and his point of view falls under the title of “The Destined Hero”. The design of his realm is better, he turns into something cooler, and he has one job: destroy the Ultimate Evil. Dane is issued the title of “The Avatar” and he has the same job as Lukas but seems to be viewed by The Gods as an afterthought. He is given a gauntlet of other quests that slow him down in a realm with film clips of Lukas, less magic and that is underdeveloped. Still, Lukas and Dane reach the same place at the same time, unaware of the other, and primed to save the game world if The Gods so choose to let them.

A Call to Evil is a well-written sequel to An Ancient Evil and the intelligent wit that Russell Cornhill takes to the page is dynamite. The novel does not read as a standalone and once I realized this I thought the premise was original enough and the writing good enough to commit to reading An Ancient Evil, which I did before resuming A Call to Evil. Both books are excellent; however, as is the case with most novels, the more an author pushes out the stronger they hone their craft. The evolution of Cornhill's writing is visible. He has a natural skill that cannot be denied in book one and I couldn't fault anything in it, but the maturation of the story and the writing does shine through in book two. The Gods can be frustrating and even though I am a brown man there were times when I would have gone full Karen if possible and asked to speak to their manager. The one above The God of Everything; the Owner God or the God of Shareholders to stage a coup. Lukas is looking for his brother and sister and as a parent that became the single most important subplot that tethered me to him as a character. I hope book three isn't too far off. Very highly recommended.

Stephanie Chapman

Russell Cornhill’s A Call to Evil is the second book in The Year Reality Broke series. The story opens with the gods, who are computer programmers. They are updating the game that they created a year ago. Luke Matthewson is a Destined Hero, who is leading a group to fight the Ultimate Evil while also looking for his two missing siblings. Dane Stronginthearm is the avatar led by artificial intelligence. Dane leads a group of characters who are going to fight the Ultimate Evil. However, this group has health, skills, and experience points and mimics Dane’s actions. The two groups must journey through the Badlands and Swamplands and cross the Isthmus into the Southern Continent. As the game evolves, the gods add more challenges and make it harder to kill opponents. Will the update be a success?

Russell Cornhill created an intriguing story that rivals the online game World of Warcraft. The most notable pieces I found were the paladin and golem. Both the Destined Heroes and the Avatar had the White Knight and Rolf as associates. I laughed at Dane’s irritation at his group’s comments. The character details were vivid and well-developed. Myth, one of the creators of the original game, overrides the plans of other programmers by adding twists that cause unpredictable results. Since Dane tried to change the actions of his companions, it was interesting to see how he changed the gameplay results. The dreams that Lukas and Dane shared were puzzling, and I kept trying to guess what they meant. Intriguing clues and supporting characters enhanced the plot. The end of the book left me eager to read the sequel. I recommend A Call to Evil for readers who like interactive games, adventure, and mythical characters.

Jamie Michele

A Call to Evil by Russell Cornhill is a fantasy adventure and the second book in The Year Reality Broke series, preceded by book one, An Ancient Evil. The God of Everything, Almost Everything, and a bunch of other assorted Gods are ready to create the next world. Through their point of view in the book, they are piecing together ideas and all of the moving parts as they craft in real time. Meanwhile, protagonist Lukas Matthewson, a dragon shifter, has been training to defeat the Ultimate Evil and is finally able to set off to find his missing siblings. He makes his way fighting through Swamplands, Badlands, Grasslands, lots of lands, both helped and hindered by all manner of fantasy creatures. In his own world, Dane Stronginthearm, The Avatar, sees a wizard about reading a prophecy. Frustrated by the limitations of his world and his desire to regain his lost powers, Dane suspects the Gods may be playing around. As the story progresses, this gets worse. Dane is supposed to save the world but keeps getting through 'side quests'. As the Gods continue to tinker, he has his own hero's journey, albeit less sophisticated than Lukas', and in their own realms the pair trek forward to meet their destinies....in book three.

You've got to hand it to Russell Cornhill; he definitely proves that the “saggy middle” that plagues most trilogies doesn't have to be a never-ending bridge to two-thirds of the way there and little else. I went into A Call to Evil knowing there would be no battle with the Ultimate Evil but still found Cornhill's book to be one of the most entertaining crossings I recall in recent memory. Dane is my favorite character on account of the poor lad continually being thrown scraps. He so desperately wants to live up to the best fighting version of himself but is hamstrung by those blasted Gods and a realm that is totally intent on keeping him on the B-team. He's such a good sport and ridiculously easy to root for. I am a fan of the game format of the world built, and being in the same space as the Gods as they mix and match what's going to happen to who, and run themselves into corners with questions is hilarious. What do we do with the goblins? These Gods are what the writing world calls 'pantsers' because that's the seat they fly by, as opposed to coming up with a legitimate plan before dredging up vampires and gollums that talk like, well, THAT Gollum. Cornhill's writing is flawless and the three points of view keep the novel really interesting. I'm looking forward to the final showdown.

K.C. Finn

A Call to Evil is a work in the epic fantasy, action, and adventure subgenres, and is the second novel in The Year Reality Broke series, following An Ancient Evil. It is suitable for mature young adults and adult readers and contains moderate fantasy violence. Penned by Russell Cornhill, the story continues with the adventures of Lukas Matthewson and his in-game counterpart Dane Stronginthearm, who were brought together by a mutual need for salvation and survival. As their realities converge, Lukas and Dane must traverse Southern Badlands and all the dangers awaiting them to retrieve a precious artifact that the gods insist will help them defeat the Ultimate Evil.

Russell Cornhill has crafted a masterfully engaging and highly conceptual work where different realities play with power dynamics. We are introduced to parallel stories with a brilliant eye for subtle differences. Reading this story was like hearing several harmonies around a note, each extra strand from a different tale or perspective enriching the central concept of the hero’s quest and the classic fantasy good versus evil theme. This unique approach amplifies all the dangers and consequences of the heroes’ decisions and actions. I was impressed by Cornhill's character distinction between Lukas and Dane, giving them their drive and connections and having them perfectly in sync. Overall, A Call to Evil is a must-read for fans of the existing series hungry for a brilliant sequel.