In a harsh, dystopian world after the economic collapse of the US, Perish is a bounty hunter and a tough woman with many talents. Including one very rare and very valuable talent that she may have to a level unseen anywhere else.
That makes her valuable. It particularly makes her valuable to the wizard Gregor, head of the Confederacy of Talents. His organisation does not accept no for an answer; but Perish, and her long standing friend Pride, brother of the werewolf pack leader, are sorely tempted. Especially since it’s apparently the Confederacy is not united behind Gregor…
But Gregor also has a carrot to offer – knowledge of her own heritage that has been long denied her and she is desperate to learn. But is it worth the risk of using powers she barely understands?
Let’s begin with the world – I think with a new series, especially for a book that isn’t just an urban fantasy but a dystopian as well, you really need a solid world as a good foundation. This definitely has that – society is collapsed, it’s clear, but it’s also quite original in how it’s collapsed; there was no grand cataclysm or disaster, just decades of economic selfishness and incompetence on the part of the powers that be. As such, the economy collapsed, many parts of the city are abandoned by anything approaching civil authority or organisation, everything is decaying or ugly and corruption is rife. In many ways it is bleaker than most dystopians precisely because it didn’t take a plague or a bomb or some zombies to make it happen – just the kind of political awfulness we’re all so desperately familiar with.
The dystopia is also well maintained throughout with constant references, especially to class. With economic collapse, the poorest are the most vulnerable and it is something that often needs addressing in any decent dystopia. From little references like the begging children through to parts of the city giving up on money altogether and adopting a barter system, the dystopia is always carefully present without overwhelming the plot.
My main complaint about the book is it’s sparse. The world is deep and rich and shown to great effect – but I need more. What are talents? Why? How does the Confederacy of Talents operate? What are all these creatures that are mentioned? The author has done an excellent job of not bogging down the book with excess description but has also left me a little frustrated by the lack of flesh – it’s not that the story lacks depth, I can feel the depth there – I just want to look into some of that depth a little more.