I don’t really know where to begin with this review. I suppose I should say straight away that this horror/post-apocalyptic/grimdark fantasy book is absolutely superb! Yeah, that’s a good start.
Set in the very distant future, the 7000s to be exact, this is the tale of two people with special powers that are drawn to each other in desperate times.
The story starts with Julian Kyder, a kid with a mom who hates him, no dad, and a very unhappy life in a desolate part of the world, The Shelf. Following nuclear war the planet has changed, with most places being reduced to boiling hot deserts where life is tough; and that’s an understatement.
After only the first few pages I was hooked. Kyder had my sympathies immediately. A polite kid with a terrible upbringing and a strange power. But those thoughts were quickly vanished when I really got to know him.
More on that later.
Sira Rune, on the other hand, is a young girl who’s dying of cancer. Her twin brother is also afflicted and the pair don’t have much time left. Their parents are loving and the family is one of warmth and togetherness. But Rune’s brother succumbs to his illness and Rune is left in a state of total desperation. Suddenly her cancer disappears. Surely her life must have a purpose then?
These two characters cement the story. Told through alternate chapters we follow both their lives as they come to terms with their powers. You see, in this future, kids are born with different powers depending on their season of birth (what a cool idea).
But those born at midnight on the solstices have almost God-like powers. I should add here that I was born on the winter solstice, yet my powers have yet to materialise. Hopefully soon, eh?
Anyway, you can guess when our two protagonists were born, right?
As I said, my opinion of Kyder changed rapidly. After the first couple of his chapters I wondered whether I’d be able to really side with this guy; he’s an arrogant, pompous, psychopathic dick. But you know what? He actually began to grow on me. Credit to the writing here, as his actions are sickening and deplorable, but somehow I came to be on his side. Sort of like a futuristic Patrick Bateman of sorts.
Tragedy strikes Rune and she soon begins a new life with a new ‘family’, a gang of youths who prowl the roofs of the city of Zawad. These Roofers were great, the banter between them was genuine and really funny. I liked all of them.
So Kyder moves from The Shelf to begin a new life of crime, violence, and murder in Zawad. He becomes the head of a futuristic mob and is certainly a boss to be feared. Those who wrong him, or even those that don’t pull their weight; well, it ends bad for them.
Here in Zawad, Kyder and Rune meet and immediately realise that somehow they have a connection. But they’re unsure the exact details to begin with.
As the story unfolds they begin to understand each other, even though they’re from completely opposite backgrounds and hold completely opposite morals.
Kyder is one evil bastard. Some of his actions are beyond disgusting, but it takes a lot to turn my stomach. Scot doesn’t hold back with him, and I’m so glad of this because having this kind of evil anti-hero really gave the book something else. There’s one scene in particular towards the end where you think Kyder won’t go there, but indeed he does. Oh, and then some!
For a futuristic dark fantasy novel in a completely different world you’d expect some portions to drag, where details of life and location are described. But this isn’t the case. Without telling the reader about specifics of the world, you just really ‘feel’ the place while reading. It’s a hard thing to pull off, but was done here expertly.
This book made me laugh, sneer, and pull quite a few ‘ewww’ faces while reading, but I loved every moment of it.
There’s so much more I could say about this novel, but let’s not turn this into an essay. I haven’t even mentioned The Rift and The Gods who are very much a reality.
If you enjoy blood, horrible deaths, a few racy scenes, excellent and well-rounded characters, a likeable ‘villain’, and your fantasy dark (what other way is there to have it?) then close down this review right now and get spending your wonga on this absolute gem.
Categories: book review