Reading Level: Adult
Length: 302 pages
Publisher: Boxthorn Press
Release Date: October 15, 2015
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Desertera series
Source: eGalley from NetGalley.com
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
“Two-hundred years ago, the steam-powered world experienced an apocalyptic flood. When the waters dried up, the survivors settled around their moored steamship in a wasteland they named Desertera. Believing the flood and drought were caused by a scorned goddess, the monarchs demanded execution for anyone who commits the unforgivable sin—adultery.
Today, King Archon entraps his wives in the crime of adultery, executing each boring bride to pursue his next infatuation. Most nobles overlook King Archon’s behavior, but when Lord Varick’s daughter falls victim to the king’s schemes, he vows revenge.
When Aya Cogsmith was a young girl, King Archon had her father executed for treason. Orphaned and forced to turn to prostitution for survival, Aya dreams of avenging her father’s death. When Lord Varick approaches Aya with plans for vengeance, she agrees to play the king’s seductress—even though it puts her at risk for execution.”
I got this book through NetGalley to review. It was decently written but the story moves pretty slow. The story is more about political intrigue than anything else; there really isn’t any magic to speak of.
The story is set in a sort of post-apocalyptic world where water is very scarce because of a curse on the land. The cover and synopsis makes this seem like it’s going to be a steampunk novel; but it’s more like the novel is set in a post-steampunk world. There are old clocks and toys that are built with clockwork but the art of running and fixing them has been largely lost to time. The world-building is pretty light, I would have liked to see the world expanded on a bit.
Our main heroine, Aya, works in a brothel and comes across as fairly innocent. Despite Aya’s profession the story is never all that sexually explicit. I was a bit disappointed in how naive Aya was mentally and at how she got drawn into this strange web of seduction that the nobility had planned for her. I feel like given her background she would have been more street-savvy and just smarter about some of the situations in this book. This is a case where the temperament of the main character seemed at odds with her surroundings and background.
The story is also incredibly predictable at the end; there weren’t really any surprising twists or turns. While the whole book is well written and flows nicely, I just felt like there wasn’t much here to engage me as a reader and really grab me.
Overall this was an okay fantasy novel. It was well written and flows nicely. I thought the the world, the characters, and the story could have been more engaging and better developed. This isn’t a bad book but it wasn’t great either. There is a companion novel to this one that follows Aya’s best friend Dellwyn Rutt called “The Courtesan’s Avenger”. I don’t plan on reading it.