Bets Davies – Rebirth

Gavin Lewis can’t help but try to save the world. So when visiting his sardonic best friend Topher, Gavin finds a naked girl in the bog people exhibit, he assumes she is homeless and needs help. He takes her back to Topher’s to take care of.

What he doesn’t know is that she is a magic imbued, reborn ancient Celt, and Annie, the anthropologist necromancer who raised her from the dead, wants her back.

The three of them, with Gavin’s sister, must fight off Annie’s sendings as she tracks them across country. Along the way, they each learn there is more than one way to be reborn.

Rebirth is the second novel published by A Fantastical Librarian regular reader and commenter Bets Davies. It’s a very enjoyable novel, which covers a lot of topics. It has a resurrected Celt, a woman driven insane by grief and her own conviction that she’s Death incarnate and two best friends coming to terms with the fact that their feelings go far beyond friendship. But at the core of the story is love in all its facets, whether romantic, between siblings, family or the love of a parent for their child, natural or adopted.

The story is very entertaining. I loved the banter between Gavin, Topher and Amber, Gavin’s sister. These are three people who know each other very well and are well-matched. In fact, Gavin and Topher’s love story was my favourite element in the book. It’s more than Gavin and Topher discovering that they truly love each other romantically instead of as best friends, it’s also about Gavin’s coming to terms with the fact that indeed he is gay and that it’s okay to follow his heart. The story is complicated by their back story, which consists of many near hits and misses, but I love how Gavin picks himself up and just decides he’s going to go for it in the end.

The villain of the piece is also an interesting character. She’s evil, killing people left, right and centre to get at their life force, to replenish her own power. But at the same time, she’s pitiable and in a way, being a mum, I do understand her fervent wish to find or create a way to cure her daughter and to return her to life. My worst nightmare is something happening to Emma or B2, I think I’d go to the ends of the earth to keep them safe, healthy and sane. On the other hand, I’d hope I wouldn’t lose my sanity in the process and I certainly wouldn’t go to the lengths Annie goes to, but I do understand the impulse. I liked that Davies acknowledges this, by having Gavin and Jobi doubt the fact they need to flee from Annie, when they find out that she only wants to get Jobi back to heal her daughter. It’s a natural reaction, and one that will most probably be echoed by most readers, but it’s an emotional reaction and one that needs to be rationalised away, in this case by Topher, who points out that Annie is a stone-cold killer and that whatever her goal is her means are wrong and deadly.

So I found Rebirth an entertaining read and a sweet love story, but the book did have its flaws. What flaws? Well, first of all there were some pretty explicit scenes in there that stood out, but not in a good way. The book had read as a YA novel until the sex scenes. Now, I don’t consider myself a prude, I usually don’t blink at sex in my books – I love Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy books – but I just hadn’t expected them and certainly not in the detailed way they were described. Secondly, I found the character of Jobi, the ancient Celt, hard to parse. She picks up the language too quickly and uses modern speech patterns that didn’t fit in my head. I expected her to have far more cultural confusion than she did, not just in how she views the world, but also in how she reacts to our modern sensibilities. The only cases in which this was very clear, was her inability to understand our fear of death and her somewhat reflexive disapproval of homosexuality. The latter is resolved by the end of the book, when she’s come to accept Topher and Gavin’s relationship. Lastly, and this maybe a little nitpicky, but there were some copy-editing mistakes, which jumped off of the page for me. It’s a bit of a bugbear for me, so perhaps not totally fair to mention it, but I think typos and transposition of letters, at least, are unnecessary.

Despite its flaws, I had a lot of fun with Rebirth. If you don’t mind a few graphic sex scenes and you’re looking for a fun read with some interesting themes, Rebirth could be the book for you.

The book was sent to me for review by the author.

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  • I enjoyed this review of REBIRTH and will start looking at other books you have reviewed.

    I didn't have trouble with the sex scenes in REBIRTH–the main characters, though they are all still growing and developing, are all in their twenties, except for Jobi, who was woman and midwife in her own culture. The book didn't seem YPL to me except for that sense of growth and development.

  • Whether Rebirth read as a YA novel is very much a Your Mileage May Vary question. Intellectually, I knew Gavin was in his twenties, but he just didn't read that way to me, but again YMMV!

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