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Reviewed by Carine Engelbrecht for Readers' Favorite
In Book of Names by Rain Oxford, brothers Nathan and Luca find themselves yanked from their easy-going existence and thrown into the midst of a strange alien world where Egyptian myths are alive and magic works. Foundling Nathan also discovers that he may have a special connection to the world of Syndrial. The priests - who at first come across as a somewhat autocratic bunch - try to persuade Nathan that he is the answer to their prayers, and the only one able to defeat their arch-enemy, the Painter. But should he trust them? After all, they totally got off on the wrong foot with him through their attempts to kill his brother, Luca.
The Book of Names has plenty of potential as an exciting opener to introduce readers to the Casters of Syndrial series. There are enough threads to create potential for subsequent books and author Rain Oxford has created an engaging pair of adventurers in Nathan and Luca. It is very useful that Luca happens to be an expert on ancient civilizations and Nathan's crime writing equips him quite well with the type of speculative reasoning needed to solve real life mysteries. Add to that the fact that they have the bad ass hobby of testing escape rooms, which helps when they suddenly have to take giant felines and ravenous sand monsters in their stride and match wits with real mages.
By the way, the magic system is also quite inventive and thought provoking. The plot, however, takes several odd turns and you should prepare yourself for a somewhat disorientating plot twist towards the conclusion, which will have you paging back to re-examine some of the earlier clues. How this will affect the main characters in subsequent books remains to be seen, but it does create interesting possibilities.