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Publisher's Summary

A lost fox. A gorgeous ghost. And an unlikely partnership to stop a murderer. 

Since his mother's murder, Sage McKinley doesn’t live, he exists. His weak magic has made him an outcast, shadowing his life with self-doubt. All that changes when the spirit of a gunslinger appears in his bookstore with a message that will flip Sage’s world upside down. According to the mesmerizing apparition, a powerful magic lies within Sage...if he can find a way to tap into it. 

But dastardly threats accompany this untapped power. Bodies are piling high as a killer hunts for the secrets of the mage that now course through Sage’s veins. Can Sage find the confidence to embrace all he’s capable of? Or will the next life snuffed out be his own?

©2020 Sam Burns (P)2021 Sam Burns

What listeners say about The Fantastic Fluke

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Incredibly narrated!

Loved ever word! Joel is a master of voice acting and Sam Burns has given him the perfect material. I was instantly in love with Fluke and Sage! Such sympathetic characters who are so easy to identify with. Gideon is thrilling too. I can hardly wait for part two.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Cris P Cruz
  • 2021-05-10

Another Excellent Burns

I cannot stop singing Joel Leslie's narration skills. He is a master of his craft and so emotive it is shocking he has not wom twice the awards he already has. His voice is excellent however, as ever he does go quite fast. If you find yourself troubler by him, slow down the recording to around 85% and you will get a more traditional, theatrical narration.
Ah Sam Burns. Sam is a balm to an aching heart. Sam is the warm hug after hard work. She is light hearted with her conflicts. This story is no different, instead she focuses on the emotions of her characters. She wants us to adore them as much as she adores them. She wants us to feel their pain, their loss, their grief, and their anxiety but does it in a way that does not overwhelm the reader.
This world is richer and more fully fleshed out than Rowan Harbor. This is not a fault of RH but rather because this work is much more focused on one type of magic. While earlier Sam Burns novels focused on variety and diversity, this one focuses on the individual path to acceptance. This book's strength is the "I am broken but I will heal myself. I am strong" whereas previous titles were "We are strong because we are together." There is something beautiful in this individual treatment. However Sam in her greatness does not shy away from forcing the characters to make allies. She intrinsically knows that while we must be strong no person is an island. We only have to ask.
There is so little to criticize in this piece that my only real critique is that next installment is not already in my possession.
Thank you, Sam, for being you and for writing the way you do.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Sue 🎧
  • 2021-03-20

entertaining

I picked this up because Joel Leslie narrated it, and as usual I wasn't disappointed. I've not read Sam Burns before, but the story was entertaining (although the ending felt a bit rushed), the characters likeable and I was happily lost in Sage and Flukes story for a few hours - I look forward to their next adventure.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Christina Azariadou
  • 2021-03-18

Magic, mystery, romance

This new series from Sam Burns is an incredible mix of magic, adventure, mystery and romance.

Sages's story is a heartbreaking one but as he says, he does his best and makes do with what he has because that is the Sage way and is amazing.

I love Joel Leslie. He is one of the best narrators out there with incredible performances and it's always a treat hearing him narrate my favorite stories, like this one. Sometimes though very emotional stories like this one, especially if I have read them first, don't have the same impact, maybe because of my frame of my mind or finding that the narration lacks that that much needed emotional punch, I don't know, but this is what happened here as well.

Still though give it a try because it really is a marvellous story.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-03-12

Amazing book can't wait for the second one

Every time I I went to the Kindle Store this book cover with pop up. However I constantly kept overlooking it I don't know why the cover was an amazing artistic rendering. But for some reason it just didn't draw me the way I thought it would given the type of genre I read. However when I saw the book was made into an audiobook and notice that Joel Leslie was the narrator I couldn't pass up the opportunity so I ended up getting it. And boy was I grateful it was an amazing book narrated by one of my favorite narrators and Sam Burns is also one of my favorite authors as well. I cannot wait for the second to come on audio I really wish you didn't leave off on a cliffhanger but it just makes you more anxious to read or listen to the next in the series. So hurry on up and produced second book because I know I'll be getting it.

2 people found this helpful

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  • person not machine
  • 2021-04-22

Super entertaining

I took a chance on a new author and was very happy with it. The narrator was good and the writing style was entertaining. This was a great pick-me-up gay romance with Actual Plot(TM). I enjoyed all the subtle nods to pop nerd culture. Sam Burns is going to be one of my go-to authors now for when I’m feeling down.

1 person found this helpful

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  • B J
  • 2021-07-27

Enjoyable and Entertaining

Great listen with interesting plot, likeable characters, and warmth. Joel Leslie is superb. His voice characterizations are perfect. A very enjoyable audiobook, highly recommended.

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  • Jovan
  • 2021-06-26

entertaining

A Joyfully Jay review.

Story Rating: 3.75 ⭐️
Audio Rating: 4.5 ⭐️

In the 18 years since his mother’s murder, Sage McKinley has been trapped—trapped in an emotionally abusive and demeaning relationship with his father; trapped in a cycle of doing everything to please the man and still getting nothing but contempt; and trapped with low level magical abilities in a discipline he has no affinity for. As the son of two high-level mages, expectations for Sage’s magical ability were high, but when he tested as low level with no affinity, it only added fuel to the vitriolic fires. To appease his father, Sage chose to study his discipline, social magic; unfortunately, an antisocial nature isn’t conducive to channeling social magic, making Sage’s success in using it sporadic at best and cementing his uselessness and disappointment as a son—a disappointment expressed even after death as his father’s ghost now haunts the bookstore and he spends all his time verbally abusing Sage.

So when a ghost dressed like a gunslinger appears in Sage’s bookstore claiming he’s there to train a powerful mage in Arcane magic, Sage absolutely doesn’t believe it. However, he’s more than willing to help the hunky Gideon Marsh try to figure out why his protégés keep dying prematurely. After a shocking event, Sage can no longer deny the truth about the existence of Arcane magic and his ability to use such a vast well of power—a timely decision because with a serial killer targeting mages on the loose and a disturbing pattern of deaths being uncovered, Sage will need all the power he can get just to stay alive.

"The Fantastic Fluke" is an entertaining and enjoyable book and the first in the Fantastic Fluke series. The world has an understandable, yet nuanced magic system and beliefs around the magical disciplines, and Sage and his familiar, Fluke (aka Foxy), the fox are utterly charming together. Fluke can’t speak and he and Sage don’t share a telepathic bond, but Burns does a remarkable job conveying Fluke’s mindset and connection to Sage. I just wish that Sage and Gideon’s relationship could have been given the same treatment. As the narrative is in Sage’s POV, I’m told often how smexy and hot Sage finds Gideon. From their first meeting, Sage is throwing out hot for teacher energy, so his attraction to Gideon is obvious; moreover, as Gideon is the only man in 18 years who has been kind to Sage, concerned for his well-being, and willing to “put up with” his quirks, Sage’s quick emotional attachment makes sense.

With Gideon, I had to fill in the blanks for his romantic feelings, for while Gideon’s personality is conveyed well, I’m left with the feeling that his attraction to Sage is more a matter of convenience. I get his lust, but not the emotions needed for a romantic relationship and why Sage is special to him, especially since Gideon’s connection to the source of the Arcane magic he’s teaching Sage to use means he connects with and cares about all his protégés on a metaphysical level. Add that to the fact it seems like all his previous students were females and Gideon’s attracted to men, his attraction to Sage feels more like a product of circumstance; Sage is a cute twink Gideon gets to spend time with. I’m sure Gideon is attached to Sage for other reasons, I just wish I could have seen them.

I also wish there was more on page time of Sage’s training. When Sage meets Gideon, he makes a joke about the Chosen One trope, seemingly as a bit of meta, satirical humor. Yet, the way Sage goes from barely being able to access the magic to having almost god-like capabilities and control makes it seem like the chosen one trope is in full use. They mention training, scenes start with Sage just finishing training and Gideon remarking upon how quickly he’s picking it up and how well he’s doing, but there isn’t any on-page middle ground between almost completely incapable to demigod (in about 2 weeks no less and in a system where it takes years of training to become proficient in your discipline). As the pacing is a bit on the slow side and the book spends A LOT of time on family dynamics, maybe Burns felt training scenes are unnecessary?

That being said, watching Sage grow from believing he’s a worthless loser to believing in himself as a person and a mage is awesome. Sage’s “father” is the absolute WORST, so having Sage find familial love with his grandmother, Gideon, and Fluke and no longer isolated with only his BFF to turn to is heartwarming. Additionally, the secondary characters are interesting and add dimension to Sage’s environment and personality, and narrator Joel Leslie does a great job in his character voice choices. To me, one of the key components of Leslie’s talent is that he treats every word and scene with equal consideration. Whether, it’s a monologue or narration about Sage’s morning routine, Leslie gives it the appropriate energy and delivery, making even something mundane pleasing and “ear” catching; he doesn’t just focus on performing in emotional scenes.

I think this is also why the audio experience of "The Fantastic Fluke" is one of the rare occasions where the narration made me like the story more. When I read it, my feelings were more mixed; mostly because I wasn’t sure how I felt about Sage. It’s really easy to sympathize with him and understand his low self-esteem, but he can also comes across as willfully ignorant at times. He’s also snarky, but in a passive aggressive way that reminds me of people who smile in your face while talking about you behind your back. After being emotional beaten down by his father, Sage makes the comments in his head and keeps his mouth shut (except with the few people close to him). Thus, a lot of his asides seem unnecessary, especially the ones where he follows it with a “it’s not his business/nothing he cares about”. So why comment? However, listening to Leslie’s portrayal, plus the additional space from the character I get from listening instead of reading, eliminates my emotional whiplash from wanting to cry for Sage to being frustrated by him.

While I may have been a bit disappointed in the lack of notable progress in Sage’s control over his magic and his relationship with Gideon, "The Fantastic Fluke" is still a really good story about found family, legacies, and intolerance with a little mage murder thrown in to spice things up. It also contains a complex MC on a touching personal journey and one of the most adorable and fun familiar bonds I’ve ever read. Paired with Leslie’s dynamic and engaging narration, the audiobook is well worth a try.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-06-07

Great story minus an impression done in poor taste

Overall a great listen but there was one part in the book were the narrator did a racial voice of an Asian woman that isn't very pc but it's only done once for like 10 seconds towards the end I felt slightly bad for laughing but aside from that it was a great way to pass the time

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  • LaurieAnn L.
  • 2021-04-29

Wrong Story for Me

Didn't have clue main vharavter is gay ... I'm 62 year-old grandmother. Summary & sample didn't cover that so I stopped at 2nd Chapter ... just saw LGBTQ in details my bad

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  • Kashonna
  • 2021-04-19

Magic

I enjoyed this story. Sage is like many of us who don't see the true potential we have in ourselves.