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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Branded by Joseph T. Humphrey is a fantasy novel revolving around a high-schooler named Henry Murphy, whose seventeen years of life turn out to be far less normal than they seem. The book begins with a prologue of baby Henry being rushed with his parents into another dimension. The fear is palpable, and they are definitely being chased. The book then moves to Henry as a teen, working for a baseball scholarship and being encouraged by his friend Charlotte. As the truth begins to unfold, Henry, Charley, Dawn, and Thom, who slowly remember the force they fled another realm from, are confronted with an actual battle between the darkness of the Nekura and the safe protection of The Light.
It is extremely rare for me to be at a loss for words, but here I am, gobsmacked and blown away by Branded. Joseph T. Humphrey is an exceptionally gifted storyteller and, paired with a plot and characters he's turned from ink into flesh, this series is a winner. I'll spare you the pun connecting that last sentence to an inkblot but, trust me, you will want to know when you get to chapter 161. There is tension on every single page. There is intrigue, fear, conspiracy, gremlins, war, mashed potatoes in safe houses, and school receptionists with beehive hair. I was most impressed with the personalities given to even the most ancillary characters, and the running dialogue feels organic. As a reader, it takes a great deal of trust to embark on a new fantasy series. Branded is well worth your trust and pays out fantastically. I am so excited to see the direction we are hurtled into next.