Author Spotlight, Book Review

Orison by Brandon Gray

I recently had the privilege of reading Brandon Gray’s young adult novel Orison. I really enjoyed it. So much so that my husband, when he was trying to rub my feet, made the comment to the kids, “Your mom is ignoring me, she has a new book.”

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Orison is part fantasy, part mystery, and part romance. It is a story that will appeal to both guys and gals. The novel is written in first person point of view with each chapter switching between two main characters Branson and Aurianna.  Unlike many books I’ve read employing this technique, with each pov shift Mr. Gray moved the story forward. And move the story did. The pacing is pretty fast, which works with the urgency of the situation. Another delight, for me, was how the story shows a respect and care for the environment.

The official blurb for the book reads:

Shunned by the other dryads, Aurianna lives unloved and alone. When a beautiful human named Branson King crashes into a tree and kills her grandmother, the dryads force Aurianna to take an oath that she will find and kill Branson—or die herself. But instead of finding a hardened human heart, Aurianna discovers friendship, affection, and sparks of passion—along with a deadly secret. As her relationship with Branson grows, Aurianna is confronted with a harsh reality: in order to live, she must kill the only person that might ever love her.

As is the case with most teenagers, Branson and Aurianna’s initial attraction to each other is very physical. In the beginning there is a lot of “watching his rippling muscles” and “checking out her curves”. But the story progresses from that, especially as Branson learns to put others ahead of himself.

Mr. Gray also does a fabulous job with the secondary characters. I especially like Abraham and the way he dispensed his no-nonsense down home wisdom while always remaining a true gentleman. Another terrific character is the woods and wild spaces that are meshed in almost every scene. There is nothing like a southern woodland, with its lush, green, dense growth, the scent of rich damp earth permeating everything, and fireflies dancing at dusk.

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The old tobacco barn, inspiration for Orison

Orison is available at Amazon 

Brandon Gray is the pen name of middle Braden Bell (Brandon writes YA fiction; BradenBraden Bell 1 writes for middle grades). Braden holds a Ph.D. in educational theater from New York University. He and his family live on a quiet, wooded lot in Tennessee, where he teaches middle school theater and music.

I asked Mr. Gray/Bell about his favorite book. He admitted that he has a hard time picking favorites, but conceded that the book he’s probably read most in his life is the collected adventures of Sherlock Holmes. He said, “I’ve loved those since I was a little boy. Holmes is so real to me, and Doyle was able to evoke a whole landscape of richly textured locations and people in short stories.” This love for the mystery and robust landscapes comes through in Orison.

Mr. Gray/Bell enjoys spending time in his garden and especially enjoys irises.

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This photo makes me think of kicking back on a porch on a steamy summer evening with a tall cool glass of lemonade listening to the cicadas sing.

Mr. Gray/Bell’s days are filled with noise and commotion while he teaches music and direct plays at the local middle school. When he’s writing he likes silence, except when his hammock becomes is office. Then he enjoys the sounds of nature.

You can read about Mr. Gray/Bell’s inspiring “from conception to publication” tale at his website.

You can also find Braden Bell on Twitter  and Facebook

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5 thoughts on “Orison by Brandon Gray”

  1. Fantastic review, thank you so much! I appreciate your time. You picked up on some of the things I really loved–like the beauty of the TN countryside, and those wonderful sensory details I love so much. I was also really glad that you noticed that the relationship progresses from physical infatuation. In my experience, that’s how teens often start out, but the intent was to show it moving to a deeper, more lasting connection. Great review! Thanks again, Nicole!

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