Belief's Horizon by IW Ferguson

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Rating 7.0/10
I enjoyed this one. It’ll be of interest especially to those who enjoy coming-of-age stories or are looking for a cozy-ish read.

I.W. Ferguson gives us a fun and interesting coming-of-age tale in Belief’s Horizon. There is some intricate and unique world building here, and some of the story has almost a slice of life feel to it. This all combines for an enjoyable, self-contained read that leaves some possible openings for further stories.

One common trope with coming-of-age tales is that the world that the protagonist is used to gets expanded. Sometimes the protagonist discovers a secret ancestry or finds out he is actually a powerful mage. Maybe the simple act of traveling from the country to the city elicits moments of discovery. In some instances the protagonist discovers more about her world as a result of meeting new people. What I found so refreshing about Belief’s Horizon is that as the protagonist is confronted with seemingly crazy truths about his world he continually tries to make them fit into the mental models that he already has. Whether it be different technology, strange people, or lasers, Happen tries very hard to make what he’s experiencing fit into his previous experience and understanding of the world. I think this is what people actually do in life, as opposed to sort of just immediately accepting truths that stretch credulity. I loved the realism of this. Coming-of-age tales also rise and fall on the strength of the character development the reader perceives. I’m happy to say that this is another area where Ferguson does well. We see genuine growth take place as Happen changes throughout the story. I appreciated this aspect of the novel a good deal. While there were a few moments when the story slowed down, overall the pacing was good and kept things moving. However, that does lead to one of my criticisms, which I’ll mention below. A final aspect of the story that I really liked was the mixing of fantasy and sci-fi elements. While not entirely unique, I felt like Ferguson did this in a way that felt fresh and fun.

While the pacing worked well in terms of the story moving along, there wasn’t a lot that compelled me to read. It isn’t that the story was slow, but rather that - while I enjoyed the narrative - there wasn’t much that gripped me on kept me reading. This was one that I could put down whenever and pick up again when I felt like it. I didn’t feel any compulsion to keep reading. Although some of this might be attributed to the slice of life feel the book has, I’m convinced that slice of life stories can still grip you in various ways. In addition, the antagonists were poorly developed and for much of the book didn’t feel like they had motivations other than “being the bad guys”. This was less of a problem than it might seem, largely on the strength of Happen’s characterization and the fact that it’s really a story about him in this liminal space as he becomes an adult.

I enjoyed this one. It’ll be of interest especially to those who enjoy coming-of-age stories or are looking for a cozy-ish read. I look forward to seeing what Ferguson comes up with next!

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