Hathonatum by Taylin Clavelli
An interesting take on star-crossed lovers. A soulmate story that crosses dimensions. This review is littered with spoilers, so beware. Long story short, a very sweet romance with some great characters and fantastic world building.
I was drawn to this novel for two reasons. I love Egypt and the mythology and history of that country. The other was the promise of interspecies romance. Taylin delivered beautifully on both. Her research and knowledge of Egypt shone in this novel and in her interview, she talks about her own love for Egypt. And while Hathonatum isn’t all that different from humans, there are definite differences between biology, culture, and world.
Ben is an archaeologist and one of the reasons he’s drawn to Egypt is that in his past life he was the king’s consort of a sort. And Hathonatum (in a very interesting way I won’t go into to avoid too many spoilers) was that king.
The worldbuilding really shines in this story with the layers of past lives, soul mates, and alien cultures. It seems like a huge mash up, but it works.
Ben, the human, knows what he wants. And when he meets Hathonatum, he knows this is the man he’s been waiting for. They are drawn together. Hathonatum was there specifically for Ben, because he knows Ben is his soulmate. Hathonatum is the capable, older, confident man of the relationship, but doesn’t bully Ben. There is support and love.
Though the story has one (unnecessary in my opinion) relationship set back, for the most part there isn’t much relationship angst. (Ugh relationship angst… not my fave.). The conflict is with the world out there, with other characters, with other aliens with agendas, it isn’t between the two main relationship characters. So, cheers for that.
Ben’s brother is a pretty significant character in this book. Jared is awesome and supportive and makes me wish I had a sibling like him. Their closeness is a gem and how they will do anything for each other. I’m happy to see strong family support.
My biggest gripe has nothing to do with the relationship, but one aspect of the worldbuilding. I had issues with the time slip between dimensions. I’m wondering if I missed some vital clue in my reading. So an hour in Hathonatum’s dimension is a week or so on Earth. But we have a couple where one half is on this side and the other half is on that side, but there is no problem with the time slip with them. I didn’t understand why. There was another issue with DNA sequencing to make earthlings and Hathonatum’s people age at the same rate (apparently Hathonatum’s people are very long lived)… but I wasn’t sure if this was attached to the time slip, and if so, why would it matter if the human was in the other dimension. It seems he would age at the speed of whatever time he was in (see author’s comment explaining where I got it wrong!). So, those two things kinda nagged at me, but if you’re not picky about details like these, they shouldn’t bother you to enjoying this romantic story as a whole.
I wanted more closure on Jared getting the King’s DNA (for the aging issue mentioned above) and what exactly that meant. Lots of hubbaloo and hinting with no actual follow through. Then I found out this was book one of a series, and I’m betting this is going to continue in the next book, which has me excited and eager to find out what is up with the DNA sharing!
All in all, a satisfying story and a fairly smooth read. The characters are likable, you want to root for the romance, and the world is interesting. Interesting teasers for what might be unveiled in the next book. Definitely worth a read to anyone interested in star-crossed/soulmate type stories.
Check out Taylin’s guest post on why she chose Egypt as her settling! Guest Post Taylin Clavelli