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TANDEM REVIEW: “King Mai” by Edmond Manning

 PersonalizedBannerJenni  PersonalizedBannerSue


Adopted from Thailand and never one to fit in with the local bubbas, life has been rough around the edges for Mai Kearns, even before he came out of the closet. Now, almost ten years past the torture of high school, Mai still can’t catch a break: he and his parents stand to lose their beloved farm.

How will a “King Weekend” help change Mai’s fate? What has narrator Vin Vanbly been up to for the four weeks he’s been sneaking around Mai’s hometown? At the urging of a ransom note from ‘The Lost Kings,’ Mai embarks on an impossible treasure hunt chasing mystic poetry, Fibonacci Hopscotch, ancient prophecy, the letter ‘x,’ and a confounding, penguin-marching army.

The stakes are high: if Mai fails, the Lost Kings will permanently claim him as their own. Finding the treasure may unlock the secret to saving his family farm. But can this angry farmer risk opening his broken heart before the weekend is over? Mai Kearns has 40 hours to get very, very curious in this second installment of The Lost and Founds.


As an avid reader, there really is nothing better than finding a brilliant book and then sharing it with one of your book buddies. Jenni and I essentially lost our minds from the sheer joy of reading King Perry (book #1, The Lost and Founds).  But could the spell continue with King Mai?  Read on and see…

Sue:  I’m not going to mince my words: King Mai convincingly affirms that Edmond Manning is a genius writer.  While King Perry was a stellar first novel (in the Lost and Founds series and as my first book by Manning), I still wondered if it was all a big fluke.  Yes, King Perry was outstanding, with page after page of nuanced and somewhat ethereal story-telling.  But still I wondered, could book two really live up to that standard?  Could the joy-ride continue to be as thrilling as the first time?  The answer is, yes.  Convincingly, unequivocally, yes.

Jenni:  When I heard you gush about King Perry, I couldn’t wait to dive in, and what a perfect introduction it was to the genius that is Edmond Manning! I gobbled that puppy up faster than you can say Ninja Reader. Then you went and invited me to join you for King Mai? Well I never! I went into this book with no expectation. I hoped I might get a nice story out of the experience. When it was over, I was left feeling like I just got off the best ride at the Iowa State Fair…after having a free corn dog, funnel cake and a frothy beer. Oh, and on a day when it was sunny, 84 degrees, and a light breeze out of the north.  What I’m trying to say is: King Mai was pure perfection. :D

Sue:  Yes, you fabulous Ninja Reader! Just like in King Perry, the writing makes you stop, reread and gush.  It puts a warm, slow smile on your face and at times it fills your heart with sadness.

Jenni: Honestly!  Forty + seven. 47. That’s the number of times I highlighted in this book. That might not be a record for anybody else, but for me, that equals poetry. That’s because I only highlight when words or thoughts really resonate for me, when I think: “Wow. This right here might change my life.” (Okay, I might also highlight during a particularly hot sexy time scene. AHEM. But those were poetry in King Mai, too. True story.)

If you’ve read the first book in The Lost and Founds series–and by the way, you could read this one as a stand alone if you wanted–you know what King Weekends are all about. Vin Vanbly is going to test a man’s inner strength to its max. He’s bound to create Easter egg hunts that won’t make a bit of sense while they’re happening. But there’s always a point. Bless you, Vin. There’s ALWAYS a point.

King Mai was so rich, so vivid in its world-building that I actually believed I was on a dusty farm in Iowa running the fields. Every bit of what Mai went through on his journey to find his truth was crystal clear for me. When he hurt, I hurt. When he celebrated, I did too. I connected with his farm boy way more than I did with the first book in the series. Something about Mai shook me.

Sue: You know what kinda urked me though?  I kept seeing Vin as a Snake Charmer who mystically draws his kings into his spell.  He charms them, draws the tension, danger, fear, anger, sexual tension and apprehension out from them and coerces them to become pliable open beings.

Jenni: I totally understand where you’re coming from. For me it was about Vin’s ability to help the Lost Kings see the reality of their lives and then Vin igniting their drive for change…by way of his (Snake) Charm. ;) Vin brings some pretty powerful influence to the table, and I see him using that for these men’s greater good, if that makes sense.

Sue:  Everything is for their greater good.  There is so much woven into these stories. Clues galore! You don’t read these books for a superficial, easy breezy experience. You need to take your time examining the story and its messages.

I felt like King Perry (book #1) was mostly about Perry’s transformation with an entree serving of Vin Vanbly – a bite size tempter into the World of Vin, if you will.  While King Mai was (personally) all Vin.  Sure, Mai’s journey is terrific, but for me, he was just the bread aside the main meal.

Jenni: Uh-huh. A more Vulnerable Vin ;) is definitely on display in King Mai. What reading Mai did for me was help me to see more of Vin’s insecurities. Still, I see Vin as this really powerful guy. I think he has a sad story, for sure. But he’s not defined by where he comes from. I don’t think. ;)

You know what really did me in on King Mai? The ending. Obviously it’s not something we can discuss, but I can honestly say I’ve never had a book conclude for me that way: with chills, right down to the very last paragraph on the very last page. It wrecked me (and released me) like no other story has, ever. There’s nothing straightforward about it; I need mooooore. I’m addicted to Vin Vanbly, or I’m addicted to Edmond Manning and his writing. Probably both!

Sue:  Yessssss.  Yes, dear lord – the ending.  So, so true, and the beauty of the ending is that it’s not a cliffhanger by any means and yet it powerfully says “guess what, there’s so much more to come”.

And now, let’s take our Kindle’s in our hands, press them to our chests and walk into the future with The Butterfly King.


RATING: Jenni – 5 stars / Sue – 4.5.


18071280Title: King Mai (Book #2 The Lost and Founds)
Author:  Edward Manning
Publisher: TPG Books
Pages: 350
Release Date: July 15th, 2013
Purchase Links: Amazon

One comment on “TANDEM REVIEW: “King Mai” by Edmond Manning

  1. Kaje
    October 6, 2014

    The next one was even better IMO – loved the whole series so far. No one is better with images and language that manages to be playful, lyrical and emotional all at the same time. And he always surprises me. This has to be one of the most unique series out there, and one that makes me laugh and hurt on the same damned page.

    Liked by 1 person

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