This novella, a mix of fantasy and soft science fiction, is a romance set in a dystopian society. Told from the points of view of the male and female leads, it manages to get inside both characters and express the experiences, emotions and thoughts of each.
The book is one of a series set in the same world. Unlike many other such series, this one has been written with care by the author who wants readers to be able to read each as a free-standing and complete story. This approach works well here. I haven’t read any other books in the series but I feel neither ignorant about the society and world, nor cheated out of a complete story. There’s a beginning, middle and end here. I wish more authors would treat their readers with the same respect. As a result of this experience, I’m far more likely to read other books by this author.
Character development, a crucial element for my enjoyment as a reader, is handled very well; we experience along with the players, and we care what happens to them. Incident is equally well conveyed, so that the reader is involved in the action throughout. And settings are given enough detail to paint pictures of place and environment. All this within the pages of a novella. That’s quite an achievement.
This is a good read and, although it’s placed in the romantic genre, it will appeal to readers of both genders. There’s a general idea that men don’t read romance, but when it’s written as well as this and set in a society with as much injustice and internal conflict as this, the story can and does exceed the narrow definitions of the genre. Fully recommended.