When I first started reading this book I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. It had a slower pace than my usual reads and there was some head hopping as it introduced the four distinct sets of people that inhabited the post-apocalyptic world. But as I read on I found myself drawn in to the story more and more while watching the human boy Hector grow up in the Pale, the city of the humachines, while the canini fought for survival after the earthquake that decimated their denning sites and hunting grounds. I grew to care about the people of the tribes as they mourned the loss of many of their loved ones and strove to keep the remaining members alive, and watched with interest to see how those in the Settlement would react to the calamity that had befallen them and their allies.
The world came alive for me, through the characters, the dangers they faced and their actions toward others. In the Regent, ruler of the Pale, I found a character I loved to hate. She was contrasted perfectly with Tad, the humachine who was considered to have too much empathy. His actions to save a human boy revealed the human side that had been suppressed in the other humachines. In the caste system of the Settlement, I found a leader worthy of the title of Chief as Valkirra struggled to do what was right for her people, even if that meant going against custom and the guidelines of the Temple. But it was the canini and the tribes that offered the most hope in the dark times, with the way they cared for their own and for others, and worked to live lightly upon the land that provided both food and shelter. It offered hope that all was not lost for humanity in the dark shadow of the cataclysmic events that rocked their world.
It was wonderful to see some of my favourite characters meet up and join forces despite their differences, even as I worry what the future holds for them considering the events taking place in the Pale toward the end of the book. One thing is for sure, navigating the dangerous landscape they live in will not be an easy task, and I am looking forward to reading the second book in the series to find out what happens next. In all, this story might have had a slow start, but it made up for it with a heartfelt message of hope amidst so much adversity.
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