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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Cycles of the Phoenix: The Whole Interlaced Souls Series by C.A. Nicholas is an anthology of surrealistic tales divided into three parts, written from the point of view of characters that reflect their inner struggles and test their mental and emotional states. Book 1, Sanity’s War contains seven tales about characters fighting monsters that are representative of an individual’s inner demons. It touches on issues like depression, sexual abuse, and PTSD. Book 2, Strange is a set of novellas with a theme running in the similar vein of people fighting against demons that take control over them and push them to commit suicide. Book 3, Kaya, Where Have You Gone? is a novella that centers on two schoolgirls, one of which has experienced sexual abuse at the hands of a relative.
Surreal. This is how I would describe C.A. Nicholas’s work. His narrative is inquisitive and exploratory as far as themes of mental and emotional struggles come into play. His characters appear helpless, yet they exhaust all means to fight and set themselves on missions of renewal—and they either win or fail. But what they discover is familiar, enlightening, and often strange. Nicholas may well be a surrealist writer who understands the disturbing dynamics of mental breakdowns and abuse and how this warps our lives. His plot and characterization present a hyper-reality that questions the border between normal and abnormal elements. His critical method in addressing sensitive social issues fuses actual representations with mythical and symbolic elements that give you a better understanding of what is being conveyed. The common ground in his metaphorical play is a magnified scrutiny of reality and brilliant social commentary. Moving in its poetic grace, this anthology deserves your attention.