Hapi, Cari Waites
Rating: 5 Stars
Publisher: Self Published
Tags: Gay Dark Romance/Fiction, Psychological, Breath Play. TW, Dub-Con, Captive MC
Length: 148 Pages
Purchase At: amazon
Jayden Sanders is a dead man.
Jayden is trying to reach Cairns when his car dies on the highway and leaves him stranded in a caravan park in Innisfail. As the rain comes down and the crocodile-infested river rises, Jayden becomes fascinated by the strange man who lives across the river—Hapi. What Jayden doesn’t know is that Hapi has already marked him for his own.
Hapi and his brothers, the sons of Horus, prepare the souls of the dead for their father, and each claim protection over a part of the body. When Hapi pulls Jayden from the flooded river, he claims Jayden’s lungs, and his breath, as his due. But what happens when he decides he wants more than that? Jayden refuses to believe it when Hapi tells him he’s dead, but his only hope of getting out of Innisfail alive is by playing along with Hapi’s delusions. And with Horus due to arrive any day, time is running out for Jayden.
Or maybe it already has.
Welcome to the dark world of Malicious Gods: Egypt. A collection of mm standalone modern tales, both magical and non-magical, featuring deities from Ancient Egypt. You’ll find reincarnated Gods, assassins, gangs, madness, and different realities. Expect high heat and morally ambiguous themes. Seductive and often twisted, they are not for the fainthearted.
This is my second Malicious Gods: Egypt book. This time it’s Lisa Henry writing as Cari Waites. She writes a good story. A good dark story. The atmosphere of Hapi was perfection: An Egyptian deity of flooding and water, and breath. No better place for that lineage than in North Queensland during ongoing rain. You feel the moisture on you, the wet, the kind you just can’t get rid of quickly. Everything is damp, clothing, bedding, the air. I swear I’ve been there and had a shower, dried off and then I was wringing wet again. I relived that experience as I read and it added to the overall vibe.
The Johnstone River in Innisfail is a backdrop, as are a rundown caravan park, mud, crocs, and the warnings of the dangerous
Horace Horus boys. And lost souls – whether literally or figuratively – reside here, as does fear, violence, some moments of off-kilter tenderness, and massive vulnerability. This book oozes the most visceral of reading experiences out of its pages. I felt a great deal for Jayden. I’m an Aussie, we love an underdog. Jayden is an underdog, and I felt he was guileless along with it. It was a two-hug Aussie care factor investment from me. I felt pretty sad as he unpacked some of his life and the feelings involved.
Jayden’s been dealt a shitty hand in life, a father who left when he was nine, a drug addicted mother who died when Jayden was fifteen. He’s a young man who has drifted but at the same time never really been anywhere. He draws Centrelink benefits and works as a casual where he can. Money is tight but he’s trying to find his way to Cairns to see if his father has ever really
thought cared about him. If there’s anyone in the world who has his back in some way. Because Jayden is a young man alone in the world, and loneliness is hard.
As the story progressed I really felt more and more for Jayden, how little he had experienced any form of kindness, and I wasn’t happy about him falling into Hapi’s world, but I basically knew what I’d signed up for when I bought the book. I just didn’t expect to feel so much for Jayden. You never truly know how a character or characters will affect you until you start reading. So then I’m thinking… very loudly, “don’t go out in the rain, don’t go looking for the source of the electricity outage. Nothing good can come from this. Get the fuck out of Innisfail!” But, you know, the characters never listen. Next thing we know he wakes up in a shed. He knows where he is once he sees
Happy Hapi – he’s had brief interactions with him at the caravan park. Barry, the caravan park owner, tells him the family is bad news. However, after that first eye-lock, Jayden began fantasising about Hapi and all too soon he falls down that rabbit hole.
“Yeah, just watch your back. Mad as cut snakes, the whole bloody bunch of them.”
Hapi doesn’t get a POV. He’s purposefully left enigmatic. He tells Jayden that he’s dead now, ba, and Hapi and his brothers are going to send him to their father for his judgment. Does his heart weigh less than a feather? If so, he’ll go to Aaru, the Field of Reeds, a heavenly place. The dispatching isn’t something that would be pleasant, each brother wants a different organ from Jayden, and they’re happy to tell him what they want and what they’ll do with it. This is like something out of a serial killer story… or Egyptian mythology. Jayden is scared but decides he can break all this down into seconds and maybe he’ll escape. He’s basically lived that way because if at anytime he allowed himself to think too far ahead, things were too much. And this is terribly frightening. They have massive dogs on the property, there are crocs in the river and they are isolated, and there are these brothers who claim to be Egyptian deities who want to dispatch him gruesomely and harvest his organs. If you think too much on it it’s the stuff of the most awful true crime story or channel.
In amongst all this weirdness, you know that Hapi has more feelings about Jayden than he should. He is proprietary around him. He found him. He was in the water, his territory. Jayden belongs to him. Jayden’s breath is his alone to take. To this end he promises that the judgment won’t hurt. Hapi won’t allow that to happen to Jayden. Hapi tells Jayden to ‘shh, be quiet’ and he grabs his throat, a lot. There is dub-con sex in this book and it always involves breath play. The more they have sex, the more breath is used, the more Hapi fuels a sense of power and ownership. The more Jayden is vulnerable, and he is, the more he falls. A lonely guy, a captive, alone. He has a (primary) captor. Someone who feeds Jayden and fucks him. Who looks at him with eyes that pierce. One with an ego amongst other egos. It all adds up to an emotional and physical power imbalance and co-dependence.
The question is, is Hapi a serial killer? Are they a deluded, disordered, bloodthirsty family? Is Hapi part of an Egyptian deity family? Is he the son of Horus? Or someone who’s smoked one joint too many? Has Jayden dissociated? Or has he found that person who wants him? I’m here to tell you that Cari Waites gives you pause to think. This story is ambiguous throughout, sometimes I’d think I had a handle on it and then I wasn’t so sure. I switched directions as to what I thought. But the key is that it did make me think. I’m still thinking because the ambiguity continues up to and past the very end. It’s open to reader interpretation. It makes for one interesting and compelling bit of storytelling, and added to the smothering, fearful, emotional world that Waites delivers, it’s powerful. 5 Stars!