Author: Jackson C. Garton
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Publication Date: April 28, 2020
Length: 291 pages
Reviewed by Sammy
Lancelot has loved Arthur for nearly a thousand years but has never had the courage to act on it—‘til now.
After being away at college for a year, Lance returns to Avalon, Kentucky for the summer. He hasn't seen any of his friends in months, but all that changes when Arthur—the one person he can't have, but desperately needs—offers him a ride home from work.
The last time Lance saw Arthur, the two had not parted on the best of terms—with Arthur's father finding them asleep on his bed, and physically wrenching Lance away from Arthur. The incident put a strain on their friendship, and convinced Lance that they will never be together.
For the past five years, Lance has fought his attraction to Arthur, because as a budding brujo, he believes in magick, destiny, and fate—that everything happens for a reason—that nothing good will come of an Arthur Pendragon-Lance A. Lotte pairing.
Then one evening Arthur sends Lance a text, telling him that he's in love with him, forcing Lance to question everything.
[Content Warning: This book contains instances of dead-naming and transphobia, drug use, and violence. There are mentions of sexual assault, child disappearance/kidnapping, religious persecution, homophobia, racial profiling, racism, drug abuse, overdose, and suicide.]
Lance isn’t thrilled about being home but at least his dysphoria is beginning to ease—after top surgery at least he is looking more like the man he knows himself to be. But seeing Arthur again is something Lance is terrified of—especially since he has been in love with the guy for years. He believes they are the reincarnation of the original Arthur and Lancelot of legend—something he has never shared with Arthur simply because Lance can’t take the doubt he knows will be Arthur’s first reaction. But that is how ‘Magick’ works—and Lance is not only a practitioner of the art but a firm believer.
When two strangers come to town bearing the names of Morgan and Mordred, Lance realizes something is about to happen and it will take everyone from his adopted sister Gwen to Arthur to battle the evil that has been living just beneath plain sight in the town they love. It will mean that Lance must finally allow himself to put aside the belief that his and Arthur’s love is destined to fail and instead do everything within his power to save his friends—and his boyfriend. Little do any of them realize just how powerful an evil they are about to come up against and just how perilously close they will brush against the Arthurian legends of old.
Avalon’s Last Knight by Jackson C. Garton is a beautiful blending of legend and magic—with a plethora of characters on the LGBTQIA spectrum featured in this fascinating story. While you will have to have a pretty solid grasp on Arthurian legend in order to make sense of the various players in this novel and the reasoning behind what Lance understands and fears most about falling in love with his friend, Arthur, I will say that there are moments of explanation that will help the novice along. However, as a critique of this story that would be my first concern—that readers may not have the foreknowledge needed to understand how intricately these characters are interwoven and predestined to be together.
The second factor that drew me away from the story a little was, of all things, their names. It was a bit heavy handed to have Lance’s last name be Lotte and Arthur’s be Pendragon. I felt that was just a bit much considering we would have felt the impact of their first names more than enough to plunge us into the legend thread without the silly last names.
However, despite these small annoyances, this story was most compelling and I enjoyed these characters immensely. I found them to be just the right blend of young adult and otherworldly creature—that meant when they were possessed by their alter egos the switch from Lance to Lancelot and Morgan to Morgana was very realistic to me. I did occasionally flounder when other spirits were introduces in to the story since I am unfamiliar with different forms of witchcraft and the tenets of their religions but still these scenes where others visited Lance and Morgan flowed well and fit into the narrative smoothly.
I loved that this novel had not one but two trans characters and they drew comfort from each other. I also really applaud the author for surrounding Lance with not only a caring and understanding boyfriend in Arthur but a support team of friends who encouraged him to break loose from his fears about losing Arthur before even taking a chance on their love for each other. As a romance this story really shined and I loved how incredibly loving and loyal Arthur was while still coming across as a typical handsome teenager. I also appreciated seeing how Lance dealt with his emotions and fears surrounding his body and revealing it to Arthur completely. The realistic trauma that Lance dealt with when it came to body dysphoria and how he tries to overcome it is emotional and intense and so well done.
All in all, Avalon’s Last Knight is an incredible novel of love and acceptance with a dash of fantasy thrown in the mix. It is highly entertaining and a wonderful story.
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