“Eric” is mainly about who has power, who wants power and who will suffer from it.
The demon King of Hell, Astfgl, has been waiting for Eric Thursday to open a summoning circle.
(his) brand of super-intelligent gormlessness was a rare delight. Hell needed horribly-bright, self-centered people like Eric. They were much better at being nasty that demons could ever manage.
When this long-awaited event finally happened, the King’s best demon, Vassenego, was supposed to materialize in the magic circle and bend Eric to Astfgl’s will.
We last left Rincewind running away from the Thing in the Dungeon Dimensions after telling Coin to run towards the light and not look back over his shoulder no matter what he heard. One of Rincewind’s greatest strengths is running. He does not care where, as long as it is away from trouble. Somehow, Eric’s summoning brought him back from his marathon in the…
The lamp in the corner flashed on and off like a child was toying with the switch.
Elvis’ head whipped around in my direction.
I ran to the bed and he leapt to the floor. (p. 21)
Unbreakable is about five families who seriously messed in 1776 by opening the door to the demon Andras. Apparently the Black Dove Legion wanted to use the demon to stop the Illuminati from taking over the world. They had planned to use the angel Anarel to hold the demon back. Alas. More than 200 years later, the descendants are still doing damage control.
After Kennedy’s mom is killed, identical twins Jared and Lukas turn up, in the nick of time, to save her life. Yes, yes. I know. This part is extremely predictable. Right away Jared and Lukas seem interested in Kennedy as more than the descendant they are convinced she is. Those who have read my previous reviews know how I feel about these love-triangles. Blech.
Jared and Lukas take her to a warehouse where she meets the other two Black Dove members, Priest and Alara. Warehouse living came about because of the unexpected deaths of the guardians of all five youth. Each youth has their own talent to contribute to the group. They decide to go on a hunt for a mysterious tool they think would drive Andras back to hell.
What do I think of the writing? Somehow I felt like there was too much telling. Or maybe there wasn’t. I think that the problem was in how the information was presented. The story went from a smooth flow to a stilted teacher rhythm. Other than that, the story was well edited and internally consistent. The encounters with the various types of spirits were fun. All in all Unbreakable is the same old, same old. But that is fine. It is a fast read.
I generally post links to well-written reviews of the novel I am reviewing. I don’t think I have ever seen Supernatural, but after all the comments about the similarities, I had to see what Wikipedia had to say. There are definitely similarities, but I think only someone who has seen Supernatural would be provoked.
Unbreakable is the first novel of the Legion trilogy. The second novel, Unmarked, was published in 2014. The third, and final, novel of this serial has not been published yet and I have not found any indication that it will happen anytime soon. Because of that, I recommend you wait before beginning the Trilogy as it is written in serial form.
There was nothing for Amber to fear in this fight; the ghost was already dead.
Amber is essential to the story of Freya Snow, a girl who was born right before her mother died. Lily bound Amber to Freya as a protector and teacher.
Freya awoke the familiar sound of her sister screaming.
Although not sisters in a biological sense, Freya and Alice have been sisters in the foster system in England. Alice is the only of the two diagnosed as autistic. Alice’s autism is so obvious that mental health professionals are unable to deny it. Freya is another matter. She falls into my category, and, therefore, it was obvious to me that her suspicion that she is also autistic is true. They are the only people who take each other’s hang-ups seriously and know that meltdowns are not tantrums.
She was quiet, bright, and didn’t cause trouble for those looking after her. That was enough for everyone to overlook her trouble making friends, her obsessive nature, and her feeling faint in crowded spaces as “quirks”. It was only because of Alice that Freya recognized a lot of her behaviour as stemming from autistic traits.
Freya also happens to be the Hero of Hunt. In typical Hero style, Freya is an orphan, at the cusp of discovering her magic and acts as a magnet for powerful people. Apparently, she has little say over her life.
“I don’t know, getting fostered kind of loses its “special day” status once you get past the tenth time.”
Alice and Freya are about to be parted from each other. Alice has been found by her aunt and Freya will be going to the Big city. Well, larger than the town she is currently living in. She does not expect much of the new family or of the new school. Her expectations will be met but they will also prove invalid. Past experiences do not have to predict the future. She will get a friend. One who is not put off by her behaviour and that friendship sets all sorts of things into motion.
Hunt was well-written. Not great, but fun. I liked it enough to get the next book in line, and White‘s writing was much better. Again, it was freaking amazing to read about a supernatural Aspie girl. Talk about breaking stereotypes. Thank you L.C. Mawson.
Heide Goody & Iain Grant‘s collaboration began with Clovenhoof. They enjoyed it enough to continue collaborating on at least eleven more stories. I adored Clovenhoof. If you enjoy British humour, this is a must. Life right now needed Clovenhoof. When my Asperger struggles to deal with what life hands me, laughs are precious. Clovenhoof was fall over funny and relevant. Probably relevant for any person who has had siblings, parent issues or have struggled to fit into their local cultures and bureaucracies.
“We’re a little disappointed,” said Saint Peter. “Let’s take the measure of suffering. This was very straightforward. All suffering should be graded as good or higher.”
“And we’re certainly getting those grades in a lot of the suffering that we deliver,” said Satan.
“A lot. Not all.”
“Yes, but it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect it for everything,” Satan argued. “We got some clients who simply enjoy it too much, and then there are those who lie about the experience because they can’t help themselves.”
… “You give me no choice but to recommend your immediate removal from the post.”
Poor Satan. The guy can never catch a break. First he gets thrown out of Heaven. His punishment for wanting to save God’s children was being master of Hell, a hellish job. Then, he gets thrown out of Hell for trying to meet the demands of the assessment board. Fired by uptight Michael and conniving St. Peter (helped by, hmmm, not telling). Where does he end up? Earth. England. Birmingham. Sutton Coldfield.
“Having restocked the shelves of the Thriller section with a newly arrived box of Deightons and Le Carrés and settled down for a mid-morning cup of tea, Ben heard a muffled roll of thunder, looked up and saw that a naked man had appeared on the pavement outside the shop.”
Ben Kitchen is one of our main characters, the owner of the aforesaid used book-store (Books ‘n’ Bobs). He lives in the same building as Mr. Jeremy Clovenhoof (Michael’s sense of humour), and is painfully shy towards women he might be interested in. The two of them coincidentally end up on the same floor of an apartment building in Boldmere. They live in flats 2a and 2b.
We also get to know Nerys from the third floor of the same building. She works at Helping Hand Job Agency. One of her clients turns out to be Jeremy. And what a client he is. Both she and Ben try to figure out where Jeremy is from and why he is such an odd person.
Satan has no concept of money, credit cards, bills, rent, making food, what to wear, social rules, how to find a job or any of the other hellish things we are expected to magically understand upon reaching adulthood. Add in the fact that Satan is an Alien, and as one might expect of The Devil in such a situation, he makes a mess of things – both in his life and in others. However, Satan is an OK guy. He knows he did his best in Hell and wants to get a second opinion from God. Michael and he have not been on good terms since the War in Heaven, so Clovenhoof is not about to trust any decision made by him and St. Peter. Getting that second opinion is not a simple matter when the opposition refuses to cooperate. Because he is an Alien, Satan sees the world without the prejudices we grow up with. He also does not have the same moral compass humans like to imagine they have. In many ways Satan makes me think of the experiences many Aspergers have in trying to connect with their surroundings. So many rules and regulations make no sense and “morals and empathy” are just words people use to persecute others.
The story moves between the new and unusual experiences Satan has on Earth and the reason Satan got kicked out of Hell (it might not be what you think it is). I have learned several vital things about English society. Good thing there are search engines:
I think A Cast of Stones fits the Harry Potter age range. Patrick W. Carr’s writing is technically excellent. The story is well-edited and the text flows from sentence to sentence. As far as plots go, A Cast of Stones is stereotypical epic fantasy and much of it reminds me of other stories. Readers should be able to tell how the trilogy will end after finishing A Cast of Stones. At times Carr fell for the temptation to moralize. In spite of this, I recommend it for readers who need clear HEROs. Errol is definitely that. He starts as one by being an orphan. However, the way we find him at the beginning of the story is atypical of the Heo story.
Cruk grunted and grimaced his imitation of a smile. “The boy’s got the right of it. He is pretty useless.”
Errol nodded with satisfaction. “See?” (p.103)
That uselessness is due, for the most part, to his alcoholism. A few years earlier, when he was 14 years old, Errol experienced something traumatic enough to drive him to drink. Being an orphan made it easier to go down that road. Because he is our HERO, we know he must find his way to a heroic personality.
In the village Errol grew up in, the leader of the boys, and the “chosen one” is Liam. He has most of the qualities that make up good leaders: Magnetic personality, is talented at everything he works to achieve, smart, tries to do what is right (but also what is kind) and lives as he preaches.
“We’re all the same,” Liam said. “I just concentrate and try really hard at everything. Anyone can do it if they just try hard enough.”
Errol stared. Did Liam really believe that?
“Now,” Liam said, “recite the vowels and consonants.”
He really did. (116)
In spite of his near-perfectness, Errol admires Liam. And so does every other person Liam meets. Paritcularly women. But Liam is not affected by this adoration and seems not to notice it. Errol and Liam are joined by Martin, Luis and Crux. All three have secrets they hide from the “boys” (19 years old) and pasts they need to pick up again. Martin and Luis are meddlers and Crux a protector. He is also a tough teacher for Errol who lacks most “civilized knowledge”.
‘Cruk’s eyes narrowed. “You’ll have to learn on the way. I’ll teach you. First lesson, don’t ever annoy your teacher.”‘ (p.82)
At times, the methods employed by meddling Martin and Luis are highly questionable. They, appear to believe that “the end justifies the means”. For churchmen and believers, they do not have much faith. In fact, that could probably be said of most of the church leaders we meet in this trilogy. Faith in their deity’s power is low.
The religion we learn about in A Cast of Stones is similar to the Roman-Catholic faith. Three-in-one godhead, celibate priesthood, rituals and hierarchies are close to identical to the RC church. Except for the magic bit that its Readers employ. Any magic but Reader-magic is forbidden and magic-users are usually killed. Rulers inherit their power but each ruler is invested with his (yes, his) powers. The old King has no heirs, which is why a new one must be found. Errol and Liam play an important role in picking the new ruler. No wonder people want to stop them.
One of the people who tries to hinder Errol from fulfilling his heroic destiny is Abbot Morin. He also believes that “the end justifies the means”. Some of his means carry a high price for both Errol and himself. However, everything that is thrown his way is meant to mould Errol into the Hero he most likely needs to become before the end of the trilogy. The trilogy is set up as a combination of serial and series. Certain threads are tied up while others remain tantalizingly open, much as most Hero trilogies do. I enjoyed it.
Illustrations to Milton’s “On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity,” The Thomas Set; Artist: William Blake, 1809
Jean-François de Troy. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Artist: William Blake, 1805
Artist: Fedor Petrovich Tolstoy
Maya, Zbrush, Photoshop. 8 hour concept sculpt, concept by Robert Borashan
Artist: Ralph Siriani
Illustration by Wyly Em
Angelus has three kinds of humans. Evolution made us look different, but we are able to interbreed. The three breeds are Homo Angelus (angels), Homo Daemonis (demons) and Homo Sapiens (us). Because of our high birth-rates, there are more sapiens than angels and demons. During Greek and Roman dominion angels and demons enjoyed playing gods. The Bible often portrays angels as “good” and demons evil. Around the 11th century persecution became so bad “The Great Immigration” started and Yeti became more common in the Himalayas.
Neither angels, demons or sapiens have mystical powers in Angelus. Only their looks (and birth-rates) differentiate between the three. Angels are dark-skinned, have dark hair, large, dark leathery wings and a bony ridge along their forehead that looks something like a tiara. Demons are light-skinned, have blondish hair, large horns and a prehensile tail.
Sarah Connelly’s father is a demon and her mother a sapien. Sarah works with SITO (Satellite Intelligence Tracking of Others) in Santa Rosa. Her boss, Starks, is head of the Santa Rosa Department. He is half angel and half sapien (I’m not sure if angels and demons can inter-breed). SITO’s main purpose is to protect angels and demons and to keep them from extinction. Sarah has worked two years in CPU (Child Protective Unite) with families who lost children (runaway or disappeared) or who have mixed children. She also works as nanny for sapien children.
Due to understaffing, Sarah finally gets a chance to show that she “deserves” more than CPU. A half-breed child, subject 342, has come to the attention of SITO. This child is adopted by sapien parents (Code Yellow). Informants have told SITO that the kid and his mom would be at Burbank playground. Sarah takes her nanny charges there and gets the youngest boy to help out with 342. Turns out 342 is something of a surprise to the unsuspecting Sarah. So are his sapien parents. And his stalker. Oh, yes. Subject 342 has his very own stalker.
A broad-shouldered man wrapped in a trench coat, was leaning against the massive trunk of a tree at the edge of the park. The smoke of his cigarette blurred the lines of his dark face as he watched the children. He had been lingering for awhile, but it wasn’t until he started to stare at the children that warning bells rang in my head.
SETI become extremely worried when the stalker’s name is tied to the cult of Moloch. Sarah becomes part of the team that tries to keep Kel out of the hands of the Cult. I totally get that, because cults are scary things. But keeping Kel out of Molochite hands proves difficult and Sarah discovers that maybe getting what she wanted, wasn’t what she really wanted.
Angelus contains some violence but not much gore. But there is plenty of action. There is some drooling but little romance and I really liked that. I think the target group is Young Adult.
After reviewing books for four years (April), I have come to realize that great stories (regardless of category) come about through bloody hard work and zing. Any one of us can get to a point of writing good books. Only some of us manage zing. Anna Wolfe is one of them. I have had the privilege following Wolfe’s journey through The One Rises and have watched her mastery and self-confidence grow. By now you must realize that I am going to say that Liar’s Game is the best of the lot.
In her preface Wolfe makes certain no technical difficulties will arise in reading her story. She then gives a brief intro of the previous books. It is, as she states, possible to read Liar’s Game without having read the earlier four stories, but your enjoyment will be much higher if you have gotten to know the main characters Carrie, Silas, Mark, Edie and the Hatter ahead of time. In Liar’s Game we get to know more about Jiye, Mimi, Hyacinth and the Seer.
Up til now, the Seer has been shown as hated and implacable. Liar’s Game demonstrates that life is too complicated for such simplistic interpretations of the Seer:
“We care only about guiding our little globe down the right path. We care about the many, more than the one. And the two of you are necessary to preserve the best futures. But you must find the truth for yourselves or important possibilities become nothing more than frozen darkness.” They do not understand. How can they? They are both so young.
Finally, Dokuz asked a question he should have asked a hundred years ago. “How far can you See?”
At last. “Millenia.” And we won’t be able to help you surf the challenges that are coming. Not if you won’t let us help you.
Imagine what it must be like to see into the future for millennia and to know that quite a few of those paths lead to the annihilation of your species, humans. I know I would go crazy, and my guess is that the Seer most likely was insane during her early incarnations. At least until she became we. Wolfe does not explain the Seer’s we, but she has let us see how Carrie communicates with her memory sets. Once again, I am guessing and believe that the Seer chose at some time in the past to magically retain the memories of every incarnation. That would take courage, resilience and a whole lot of stubborn. Mark, Callie and Silas learn this side of her, and that changes them. How could it not?
Mark is frustrated. His demon-infection demands anger to sate its hunger, and Mark is a master at making people angry. Somehow, his ability recognizes what will hurt the most and tries to force words to bring hurt and anger out in all he meets. Being able to sense lies also aids his ability a great deal. Liar’s Game shows us how painful controlling his ability is.
The sensation in his mouth morphed into a ball of needles that was trying to escape his skull in every direction.
For some reason Callie can feed him without anger, but Callie is an extremely dangerous person to feed from. She has almost killed him once, and neither of them wishes to repeat that experience. So Mark starves rather than inflect unnecessary anger on people.
Silas winced and then a sick ball of dread opened up in his stomach. And now she dies. I’ll have to pass it off as a suicide, but after the events in San Fran, Edie and Mark will be at risk. They will both have to leave. And soon. Only Callie didn’t die. One moment turned into ten and still Callie stood there glaring at him. Shock rippled through him, and for a moment, he couldn’t hear anything. The room wavered under his feet, and he stumbled forward until he could sit on the end of the bed.
Why does Callie not die? Wolfe has hinted at the truth in the previous books. This should knock the final nail into your chest of understanding. No worries, though. All is revealed in Liar’s Game. Fair is fair, so Callie finds out about Silas. Gaining knowledge about each other tears down preconceptions and barriers and matures Silas and Callie for the Seer.
Anna Wolfe states that The One Rises series is intended for adults. Most likely that is because of the sex. It is certainly explicit but no more than the violence in many Young Adult stories. There is plenty of ACTION and some violence.
Pellini exhaled. “Since my senior year in high school.”
“What happened then? Did someone start teaching you?”
He cleared his throat. “Never talked to anyone about this stuff before,” he confessed, then added, “I mean, no people.”
Idris and I both tensed. “What non-people have you talked to about this?” I asked, doing my best to remain outwardly composed.
Pellini licked his lips before speaking. “Shit. I had an imaginary friend when I was little.” A flush darkened his face. “I called him …” He hesitated then took a deep breath and plunged on. “I called him Mr. Sparkly because that’s what he looked like. For as long as I can remember, until I was in second grade, he’d find me when I was in the sandpit in my backyard and take med away.”
“Wait. Away?” I asked. “Where to?” Maybe Mr. Sparkly was just an ordinary creeper?
He chewed his lower lip. “The place I saw him wasn’t like Earth,” he said. “It was like that.” To my shock he gestured toward the nexus. “Energy and colors and light.”
“Talbon!” said Lord Eotrus. “Dispel the mist. Now!”
At his liege’s command, the sorcerer uttered forgotten words of eldritch power; secret words lost to all but the chosen few. The ancient sorcery he called up crushed the unnatural mist back against the night, though the darkness lingered beyond the limits of the soldiers’ torchlight.
“For glory and honor,” shouted Lord Eotrus. “For Odin! For Lomion!”
My copy of Daughter of Witches is the revised version. Daughter of Witches is Patricia C. Wrede’s second story.
Bond servants in Chaldon were servants with only one right: a half-day off every three weeks. Their masters could, in all other respects, treat their bond servants as they would. Ranira, our main character, is one such bond servant. She was bonded for nine years because her parents had been judged and killed for being witches. When we meet her, she has two more years of her bond to serve. She is somewhere in her teens.
When strangers come to Lykken’s inn at Festival time, they ignore the danger they place themselves in. Being foreigners in Drinn at Mid-Winter festival is enough to get you arrested. Hosting foreigners is also enough to get you arrested and sentenced as bond servant. In fact, all of your employees and family are placed in bond service for not having reported your crime. Earlier in the story, Ranira unintentionally offended the priest that is her “arresting officer”. It turns out she offended The High Priest of Chaldon. Her sentence is his way of getting revenge.
“For three days more I will be seated in the place of honor in the Temple, next to the High Priest, while he teaches the people the new rites and leads them in the old ones. Then the High Priest himself will perform the wedding ceremony. And consummate it. Publicly,” she added as an afterthought. She stared resolutely at the door of the cell. She was determined to finish, to make them understand, so that they would leave her to whatever little peace and sanity she could find and cling to. “When he is finished, the god will take me. For two days, Chaldon will walk in my body and speak with my voice, and there will be nothing left of me at all. On the last day of the Festival, when both moons are full and Chaldon has accepted the other sacrifices, the nine High Masters will kill me as well.”
Through history human sacrifice is not uncommon: Aztec, Japan, Serbia, Hawaii, India and Rome are only some places where ritualized human killings were/are practiced. Religion seems to make human sacrifice acceptable to the general populace once propaganda becomes common belief. But I wonder if religion is the only area of sacrifice in human society. What about the squandering of young lives in the fights we have with each other to enforce our own points of view? Or the death penalty?
Anyways. Ranira is not too happy about her future fate. Nor are the strangers once they realize what is going to happen to Ranira. What is about to happen to them as well. Although their fate is probably not the privilege of sacrifice to the god Chaldon, they will likely end up as sacrifices to Drinn’s version of justice. Getting away would seem hopeless yet highly desirable for all of them. Ranira and the strangers now set off on what are narrow escapes, much use of magic and new friendships.
“She’s gone, what’s the harm?” Muirin said. She flipped through the manila folder. “Transcripts, notes from the teachers – huh, she was getting better grades in Art than I am – evaluations from her magic coach – Kissyface Bowman always was too easy on anybody with a flashy Water Gift – Demerits …” She stopped suddenly, as she got to the last page, and stared down at the folder in silence.
“What?” Loch said. Muirin simply held the folder out to him mutely.
He took it, and looked down at the last page. Spirit looked over his shoulder. There was just a single page there at the end, something it would be easy to take out and dispose of if for some reason you were going to hand it over to someone. At the top of the page there were several lines of illegible handwriting. The rest of the page was blank.
Thaumatology 101is a mystery. Ceridwyn (Ceri) Brent has been hired as a research assistant to Dr. Tennant at the Metropolitan University in London at the High-energy Thaumatology Building. Thaumatology is the magic of Teasdale’s world. Dr. Tennant has been working for a couple of years on finding a solution for the containment of T-Null. It turns out her other assistant, Shane Walters, has hampered her work. After an accident occurs that almost kills Ceri, Ceri and Lily begin searching for an answer to why Shane is out to stop Ceri.
I like the way Teasdale introduces us to the world (and the house) both Ceri and Lily are part of. Thaumatology 101 is very much about the friendship between Lily and Ceri. Ceri experiences major changes in her life during the story and Lily is there to both support and hamper her. Thaumatology 101 celebrates sexuality without being preachy or crude. I found that refreshing. Not being a romance was also great. Violence in the story was toned down. Because of the toned down violence and joyful sexuality, I would call this an older Young Adult urban fantasy tale. The story is somewhere between a novella and a novel in length (137 pgs).
Researcher (Special Class) S. iso Fabold, from the National Department of Exploration of the conquering nation Kell, has come to the Isles of Glory. His project is to discover what he can about its history and beliefs. As part of that mission, he interviews Blaze Halfbreed. It is her story we hear in The Aware. Fabold comments on Blaze’s story at regular intervals. I don’t particularly like Fabold. I find him an annoying, misogynistic git.
Blaze takes us back 50 years to a time before the Change, when magic was known. She telles us of her third visit to the Island of Gorthan Spit. Gorthan Spit is the place where those who have no where else to go end up. Blaze calls it a:
middenheap for unwanted human garbage and the dregs of humanity; a cesspit where the Isles of Glory threw their living sewerage: the diseased, the criminals, the mad the halfbreeds, the citizenless. Without people, Gorthan Spit would have been just an inhospitable finger of sand under a harsh southern sun; with them it was a stinking island hell.
Halfbreeds (children of two people from different islands) seldom survive to adulthood. None of the Isles of Glory wish to admit such children exist. Citizenship is only for the purebred. Usually, halfbreeds are abandoned as soon as their mixed background becomes apparent. Blaze, herself grew up
on the streets of the Hub with a group of other outcasts, mainly children of varying ages. Our home was the old graveyard on Duskset hill, where once upon a time the wealthy of the city had buried their dead in tombs above the ground. The place was ancient, the tombs neglected. They made good hiding places, fine home for a pack of feral street kids with no money and no respectability and, in my case, no history or citizenship.
That childhood, her later tutelage by the Menod and her treatment and training by Keepers laid the groundwork for the kind of adult Blaze Halfbreed became. What she learned was that if she wanted to be looked after Blaze was the one who had to do the looking. No one else could be trusted. And she is fine with that. She has no illusions about being some kind of wonderful person who needs to save her world. That she happens to become a pivot is due to Blaze being in the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time.
Sometimes life is like that. Very few people get to become pivots upon which the fate of the world rests. Choices are made at such times that may or may not change the immediate course of history. Long-term very little changes where humans are involved.
I particularly appreciated a few scenes in The Aware. There is an amputation sequence that takes us through the process. Part of that process is letting us know what chance and amputation patient should have had somewhere like Gorthan Spit. There is also an explanation of how a woman like Blaze would be able to handle a two-handed sword for a longer period of time. There is her size, strength, training and practice. In addition the steel of her sword is more refined and therefore a little lighter than the regular ones of that time. Only blood-debts would get you such a sword if you were not from Calmeter. But Blaze needs to take better care of her weapons.
There was plenty of action, an explanation of the magic, a good description of how the Islands worked politically and practically and good character development.
We Leave Together marks the end of the story of Joni Lord Jona, Rachel, Djoss, Calipari and the Walkers. The Dogsland trilogy has been terribly painful yet wonderful to read. J.M. McDermott’s prose brought me through the terrors, pain and love expressed in this story about two extremely different yet similar couples.
The Walkers are feared representatives of the goddess Erin. As ham-shifters they are part human and part wolf. Rachel and Jona are half-human and half-demon. Their heritage comes from the Nameless one and expresses itself both in temperament and looks. Both are feared by the general populace.
Similar as they might be, the Walkers and Rachel and Jona are also extremely dissimilar. Rachel and Jona’s half-demon nature makes even their sweat dangerous to other people. Sharing food and drink is impossible because of the effect doing so has on others. Half-demons are hunted down and burned (alive for the most part) along with their properties and very likely any person they might love. The Walkers hunt half-demons and eradicate (as much as possible) any dangerous trace of them.
With Jona’s skull being found at the beginning of the trilogy, we have always known that, for Jona at least, there was never going to be a happily ever after. Considering the nature of Dogsland, happily ever after probably does not happen to any one in the land of McDermott’s mind. But does happily ever after happen even in the real world? Not likely. I suppose there could be a happier after, but never a happily ever after. Humans just aren’t built for it. We all die, we all get sick and we all suffer through pain. Some of us experience more sickness and pain than others, but we all go through such experiences. So too for the citizens of Dogsland.
Homelessness for adults and children, orphans (both homeless and not), class differences, poverty, greed, power-struggles, charity, love, helplessness and need are all visible in Dogsland and our world. Just look around and you will find all of these without needing to look very hard. Djoss becomes one of the helpless ones through his desire to get money quickly. His motives were fine – a better life for himself and his sister. The way he went about it led him into helplessness. Devil-weed is incredibly addictive once you smoke it. Djoss did and now all of his money goes to the drug. Rachel is desperate to get him out of the city with her. But getting out of the city is not a simple thing unless you get hired by a caravan. Who is going to hire a person who is so obviously a drug-addict? Jona wants her to stay because he has fallen for her or possibly the fact that he has finally found another like himself.
So many things work against Jona and Rachel and Djoss. Their own nature, others finding out about that nature and using it against them, having to hide what they are and people hunting them are all factors that make the descent into death for Jona inevitable.
We Leave Together is dark and painful. Somehow it is always the children that get to me.
The boy pulled his dead rat off the fire with two scraps of wood. He picked at it with his bare hands like a hairy chicken wing.
“Where you from, mudskipper?” said Nicola, to the boy.
He shrugged. “Ma said we were from a farm, once.”
“Where’s your ma.”
“I don’t know,” he said.
“Just, you then?”
“I got two brothers. I don’t know where they are, but they’re around.”
Children around the world live in conditions like these. We just don’t see them. Or maybe we choose not to see them. Sometimes they live far enough away from us that we have to make an effort to acknowledge their existence. But even in my wealthy country there are children who know the pangs of hunger unless charity reaches them. What about them? Am I part of the brutality and violence of Dogsland if I choose to ignore that our world is in many ways just like the world of J.M. McDermott?
Did I say We Leave Together was painful? Yes, I believe I did. That area of my chest that aches right before the need to cry engages hurt through most of the story. Definitely recommended.