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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Graphite and Turbulence by Jami Fairleigh is a dystopian fantasy and the second book in The Elemental Artist series, preceded by book one, Oil and Dust. Matthew Sugiyama's search for his biological parents presses on alongside Akiko, the little girl for whom he fills the role of de-facto father. Matthew's visions also continue wherein he sees breadcrumbs of an elusive past through fleeting mental images that he, as an artist by profession, paints in the hope that the pieces ultimately come together to create a clear picture. His search is once more derailed when Akiko disappears and he is forced to seek help and put his faith in his cousin Talbot. The word 'faith' is subjective, given that Oil and Dust showed us the horrible realities of extreme religious distortion. Search, rescue attempts, escape, betrayal, death and, at its heart, love, and kinship, all clash together in a novel best described by a variant of latter half of its title: turbulent.
Graphite and Turbulence is a steam train that swiftly moves from one catastrophe to the next. Matthew is a guy with the best of intentions, and the skill and prescience to figure stuff out, yet when it comes to implementing sense he is...a man. Fallible. Prone to error. Profoundly human. This makes him feel authentic, as there are far too many stories out there where the character arc takes us from good to better with only a little disruption in between. Jami Fairleigh blows this up and we see the toll it will take and the lessons hard learned, but lessons learned nonetheless. Akiko is every parent's child and, bless her, she's a handful. It is heart-stopping when she suddenly disappears, and it goes without saying that this is every parent's nightmare. Talbot and the right honorable Reverend return in top form. Talbot is something of a mystery this time but both cannot be misconstrued as anything than baddies to the bone. Like its predecessor, this novel is an emotional juggernaut and a serious page-turner, and I'm here for whenever it is Fairleigh delivers next in line in the series. Very highly recommended.