Jonathan is a captain of the convoys… escorting travelers, supplies, and messages from one village to the next. He protects the people from the cursed beasts that roam the land threatening to infect the populace with a mind-altering disease. Some will turn violent and rage and cause the guards to put an end to their misery, and some will take on a special change with the bite of the beast. A change that will give them a power to see things, move things, or influence others. When trained and enhanced, these people are a treasure to the crown.
Annetta is an herbalist who is moving from her old town to the hamlet of Malden. She will take on the same role in this new town helping people through common sicknesses and other rarer accidents of the flesh… beasts and poisons and sometimes hangovers.
Thaung starts the narrative with an attack in the first several pages. It happens off screen, but the reader is given clues to the results of the bites… and the fact that Jonathan had to murder in order to save the rest of the convoy. The severity of the threat becomes more evident when the setting shifts to the capital where he needs to report back to the council and where he is constantly second guessed for his actions. Several other attacks cause tensions to rise and Jonathan’s own deep secret may come to the surface.
First off, I enjoyed the writing in this. The descriptions of characters and the day-to-day life of the villagers and city folk come alive in Thaung’s words. Jonathan and Annetta are both sympathetic characters who see things out of their control start to cloud their lives.
My major criticism in this novel is that the plot wandered a bit too much. There was no central conflict that could keep the book focused for very long. And the big reveals happen too close to the end which created a poorly placed cliffhanger and not the great drive you want to come back for the second book.
A good premise doesn’t hold up while the plot starts and stops throughout the book.
3 out of 5 stars
Thank you to the author for a copy for review.