The kind people at Publishers Group UK sent me a copy of Into the Flames by Mel Bossa to read and review on my blog. It’s written in the perspectives of the three main characters: Jamie, Dance and Neil.
Jamie or Dr. Jamie Scarborough to his patients is a psychiatrist. But poor Jamie suffers with his own mental health – he has severe anxiety (which at times lead to panic attacks) with a bit of OCD thrown in. He’s recently split up from bisexual Basil his partner of five years, leaving behind Basil’s sisters twin children Mallory and Marshall.
Dance is an eccentric, loveable and very intelligent compulsive liar. He’s homeless and the only family he has is a twin brother Seth whose desperate to become a woman named September. September however has an eating disorder so can’t get the psychiatric pass to allow the surgery.
Neil is a fire fighter who has been suspended due to putting his colleagues life at risk. Neil is a loner with his only family being an old dog that has to be put down by the vet. Neil’s poor mental health worsens after this trauma, making him unstable, neurotic and a very sinister person later in the book.
Jamie, Dance and Neil all have mental health issues in this story, the root cause of which is childhood trauma. This heavy subject matter made Into the Flames difficult to read at times, but what encouraged me to read on was the genuine care and compassion that I felt for the characters.
The story was slow to get going and initially focused on the characters issues rather than the characters and their development. I’m not sure if this was deliberate from Bossa, wanting the reader to care about the main characters to the point of us wanting to rescue them. Bossa also took her time in building the links and associations between the different characters which also encourages the reader to read on.
Towards the end of the book tension builds and you become hooked. Neil starts to have a neurotic breakdown becoming dangerous and Dance disappears. Will Neil harm anyone? If he does will it be physical or psychological torture or both? Where has Dance gone? Will he be OK?
Bossa uses the twin connection cleverly throughout the book and for more than one of the main characters. The story concludes traumatically but leaving the reader with a sense that everything will be OK in the end. I did feel sorry for Matt (one of the minor characters) who I felt was a loose string that could have been tied up at the end.
Overall the story is well written with the use of the characters perspectives being pleasing; it is obvious that Bossa has a lot passion for writing queer literature. Into the Flames is available to buy on Amazon.