The Kitchen Boy by Augusta Li


From Dreamspinner:

Kitchen servant Yoli is one of only three men who know a carefully guarded secret about High Commander Koehen, the brilliant general who united their lands against a common invader. The enemy wants that secret, and they are willing to use either kindness or cruelty to obtain it.

Yoli must decide if his loyalties lie with the commander, who has shown him more affection than anyone in Yoli’s life, or with his own best interests. High Commander Koehen’s attention is capricious at best—he summons Yoli only when it is convenient for him, and Yoli knows there’s little hope of a future together. Is a glimmer of a hope for love worth sacrificing a chance for prosperity beyond his wildest dreams?


Kimi’s thoughts:

This is a re-release, having been previously published by Silver with a different cover. I’m glad Dreamspinner rescued the title because it’s a sweet fantasy tale that follows the emotional and personal growth of both Yoli and Commander Koehen. Koehen’s attentions often seem to be elsewhere, his pre-occupation being on the battles he and his men face. Yoli loves him unconditionally, never seeing Koehen’s needs as weaknesses though hoping that one day the Commander will see him for himself and not just as a convenient outlet for relief.

When Yoli becomes unwittingly embroiled in an enemy plot , he faces temptations that he’s never had to face before. His purity of heart  gives him a point of view regarding the men on both sides of the conflict that ultimately goes on to shape his future in ways he would never have guessed. Koehen’s response to the plot, both professional and personal, likewise  have far-reaching consequences for himself, Yoli, and the kingdom. I would have liked to have gotten to read a bit more about the wizard and Koehen, especially since the plot hints at changes to come for the wizard as well, who is himself a lonely soul. Even so, it was a very satisfying read and so Kimi gives it a solid 4 stars.