From Brick & Darkness

Young Adult - Fantasy - Urban
362 Pages
Reviewed on 05/02/2022
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

J. L. Sullivan writes young adult novels inspired by gritty urban environments and the fantastical tales that percolate within abandoned buildings and desolate alleys. He began his writing journey in high school with a local newspaper before venturing into creating writing in college where he found himself lost in contemporary stories with magic summering just underneath the surface. His debut novel about a dark reimagining of an ancient myth won multiple awards following its spring 2022 release. He currently lives in St. Louis with his wife, two daughters, and a dog named Princess Penelope Picklesworth.

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

From Brick & Darkness is a work of fiction in the urban fantasy and adventure subgenres. It is aimed at young adult readers and was penned by author J. L. Sullivan. The book follows Bax, a young man bored with his life who accepts the offer of a ring that was meant for his estranged father. When the ring speaks to him in his dreams, Bax unleashes the powerful djinn inside it in an attempt to make his wildest dreams come true. Unfortunately, the djinn inside the ring uses violence and manipulation to get Bax what he wants, leaving Bax in a desperate race to rid himself of his new patron before destruction reaches those he cares about most.

I absolutely adored the blend of mythologies, fables, and occult ideas that author J. L. Sullivan mixed together to create this original world and the story within it. This book quickly establishes itself as a fresh take on classic ideas with its own original twists and interpretations, and the resulting product is a roller coaster of an adventure that hooks the reader from page one and refuses to let go. Bax is a stunningly realized protagonist with the flaws of youth that many of us will recognize and even relate to. He leaps off the page with descriptive prose and dialogue, providing the reader with a perfect guide to the terrifying and dynamic narrative that From Brick & Darkness embarks on. An outstanding and original take on some classic and well-tried ideas, I recommend this book to all.

Nicholus Schroeder

From Brick and Darkness is a fantasy by J. L. Sullivan, set in modern-day St Louis. Baxter Allen had always dreamed of something big happening to him. Something along the lines of being summoned to another world or being bestowed with superpowers, and one day he had a chance encounter that somewhat fulfilled his dream. Bax met a creepy old homeless-looking man seated outside his apartment building's entrance, and the man had a gift for him; a ring that could grant wishes. Bax had acquired his very own genie! But upon making a wish he realized that the genie called “Janni” couldn't grant his wishes per se but Janni was instead a servant. Bax, however, wanted a true genie experience and so he asked Janni if there were any powerful genies nearby and Janni led him to a most terrifying specimen. Baxter's new genie was indeed quite the upgrade but one day he had a weird dream about a bully. In this dream, the boy died in a freak accident. Bax had the shock of his life when he learned that the boy had, in fact, died in a rather suspicious car accident. Bax realized that what he had summoned was sealed away deep within the Earth for a reason.

Reading From Brick and Darkness was kind of like a roller coaster ride. One chapter could be about a light-hearted moment between characters, and the next would be a scary scene that could even give old Pennywise quite a fright. The suspense and tension in those fear-inducing scenes had me glued to this book. Both the laid-back scenes and action-packed ones were equally enjoyable, and J. L. Sullivan brought each scene to life. The characters played a major role in breathing life into the scenes, as they had a lot of depth and personality to them. The author conveyed the ignorance and vulnerability of youth in his characters beautifully and organically. The main attraction, the genies, were another highlight. Janni was funny and I took quite a liking to the character early on. The bad genie was an interesting individual as well and he added a lot of tension to scenes along with a dose of fear. Overall, this was a pretty wholesome read and I enjoyed every second of it. The plot was intriguing and had me hooked as soon as Janni first appeared. Some careful foreshadowing kept me invested and curious. I'm also happy with how the story turned out and I wouldn't change a thing. I had fun reading this book and would recommend it to readers that enjoy dark fantasy books.

Rabia Tanveer

From Brick & Darkness by J. L. Sullivan follows the story of Bax. Be careful what you wish for. Bax learned this the hard way. Baxter was a sophomore at Truman High School and lived with his mother since his parents separated. His life changed when one night Bax was approached by a stranger who wanted something from Bax: to give a shady ring to his father. Bax accepted it, knowing he had no way to contact his estranged father. Things went awry from there. A strange creature called Janni appeared from the ring, claiming to be a djinn who would obey Bax’s wishes. Excited at first, Bax had no idea Janni was no ordinary djinn. This created chaos based on Bax’s wildest dreams, and before he knew it, Bax was in serious trouble and the people he loved. To protect everyone, Bax had to find a way to send Janni away once and for all. But can he?

Suspenseful and perfectly written, From Brick & Darkness was an outstanding story. The setting was magical, the characterization was on point, and the overall feel of the story was exciting. This is the kind of story I would gladly recommend to teens and young adult readers. Baxter’s story was exciting, filled with turns and events that made the story more interesting. Janni was funny (reminded me of Dobby) at times, but things took a sinister turn very soon. While Bax was flawed, he had a redemption curve that the author used perfectly. J. L. Sullivan did a lot of research, and it was apparent in the way the story was written. It was cohesive, well-thought-out, and exceptional. The characters were endearing, the dialogues were filled with teenage sass, and the plot was thick with tension. I loved it!