*I received a free ARC of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favourite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears.
A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future, but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him.
Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids.
A Touch of Death is a dystopian sci-fi romance adventure, so a bit of something for most readers!
I wasn’t sure quite what was going on at the beginning of the story, as we started with a prison guard watching a battered man arrive to be tortured, then suddenly skip to said battered man trekking through the wilderness with a very grumpy female companion, having apparently broken out of prison and ended up on the run, all ‘off screen’ since we last saw him.
From that point on though, not only did the story make sense, but I was completely hooked on it. The relationships between Thom, Kitty (Catherine) and Nate are believable and compelling in their slow development, and I was tensely on edge throughout the book as I tried to will them to safety. As this is the first in a five book series, of course only some of the main plot can be resolved, as the wider arc carries forward into the next instalment.
And there is plenty of plot excitement to go around! Nate and Kitty are on the run from the government in the dangerous Outlands, and some form of contaminant or disease has turned their own bodies against them. They are in danger on every side, from mutants, law enforcement, ‘rabids’… pretty much anything that sees them probably wants to kill them. Oh, and they don’t get on, so they are constantly bickering and snapping at each other, while stealing sidelong glances… we all know whats going on there, even if they’re oblivious.
The sci-fi and dystopian elements of the story are well-thought out and fascinating, and the characters are engaging too – able to withstand a lot of brutal physical and emotional challenges in their attempt to find answers to what ails them, rescue their loved ones, and simply survive in such a corrupt society. They do have a head start on the last one, as both come from privileged backgrounds, in a society where the rich get every benefit and the poor get left to rot. It was interesting to see how these benefits affected their survival in the different situations they face, as the majority of dystopian novels I have read have featured heroes/heroines that were already struggling to survive before the main plot started.
Overall, I felt this was a really promising series starter and with the interesting new situations introduced towards the end of this book, I can’t wait to find out what will happen next.
Henceforth there is one religion, one language and one ruler as decided within the PROCLAMATION OF UNITY. The sacrifices for this peace being those which are the most insidious and destructive aspects of human nature: FREEDOM and HISTORY. These known forces of destruction and their encompassing evils are hereafter decreed ILLEGAL and REGRESSIVE. The KINGDOM will be ruled in adherence to these beliefs, and maintains that the most important aspects of society will, from this day forth, be CONFORMITY, CONTROL and CONTINUATION.
– Rebecca Crunden, A Touch of Death
A Touch of Death is available on Amazon right now!