Appalling editing - if it was edited at all! - but the Mars Needs Women trope (caution: that link takes you to tvtropes where you may be trapped for d...moreAppalling editing - if it was edited at all! - but the Mars Needs Women trope (caution: that link takes you to tvtropes where you may be trapped for days) is one of my guilty pleasures and not since Kaitlyn O'Connor's The 9th Orb has it been so well achieved. Yes, even with all the misspellings, tense shifts and wrong words.
So, if you're looking for a sexy, engaging, mindless sci-fi romance to unwind after a rough day, give this one a chance!(less)
"Calling it the End of the World was a conceit. The World kept ticking on just fine, it was humanity that took the hit. Seven months from top of the food chain to endangered species."
After losing communication with other human settlements following a plague that wiped out most of humanity, Asa, the settlement's doctor, decides to set out with a tracker and a hunter to find out what befell the other humans.
At the same time, Asa's granddaughter Prosper and her best friend Angus also set out, trying to make head or tail of an unusual problem that afflicts Angus. Unfortunately, both groups find themselves hunted by the Hinterkind.
A group of the Hinterkind, the Sidhe, wishes to capture the remaining humans, whether to keep their numbers in check or to be rid of them all once and for all is still being debated. Other races of the Hinterkind, like ogres and skinlings, find it hard to restrain themselves from feasting upon human flesh long enough to collect the bounty offered for them by the Sidhe...
But, in the end, could the biggest threat come from the patchwork of people that's left of humanity?
I really liked Prosper and Angus. Their friendship felt real and I really grew to care for what happened for them.
I also loved almost everything the Sidhe Queen said!
The others... were a bit too morally ambiguous for anyone to really cheer them on, but still entertaining to read.
If you like action-packed dystopias, with a sprinkling of fairytales gone wrong on top, give this a chance! (less)
In the sleepy village of Nag's End, nothing much ever seems to happen, so Rowan's life is one of study. She dreams of being a scholar like her fathe...more
In the sleepy village of Nag's End, nothing much ever seems to happen, so Rowan's life is one of study. She dreams of being a scholar like her father. She spends her free time with her best friend Tom, swimming, playing, daring each other.
But, one day, five riders bearing the King's crest ride by Nag's End, and when their horses return sans riders a search party is organized. One of the riders shows signs of having been mauled by some kind of beast... the other four are untouched and lie dead in the snow.
The superstitious villagers insist it was all the work of a wolf and are quick to rid themselves of the bodies.
Shortly afterwards, Fiona arrives - she's too enchantingly beautiful: hair black as a crow's wing, ruby red lips, skin white as snow. Rowan's father forbids her to speak to Fiona, but once she learns Fiona is her cousin, and with a little insistence from Tom (who wishes to court Fiona), Rowan ends up meeting her cousin.
The title and blurb were very misleading to me. The actual Glass Casket appears for only one scene and has no particular significance to the plot. And all that talk of Death not having visited Rowan, etc., made me believe that a personification of Death would appear in the book, when it's merely referring to the deaths that occur within the story.
It's an imaginative world: the villagers believe that goblins steal children to feast upon their flesh, fairies bewitch people to drown them in the lake, and the nixies who live in a cave beneath that lake, when a man would swim under moonlight, they'd tear the flesh from his bones. There are several types of witches: the greenwitches who heal, the redwitches who draw their power from passion, the woodwitches who live in forests, the bluewitches who drew their strength from water and divined the future, and of course, the greywitches who were said to be wicked creatures who hoarded silver.
There is an old fairytale tone to the whole story, weaved with terror and tragedy. There is a wintry atmosphere, with the falling snow covering the horrors that happen in the forest.
We never really know where this is happening, a made up world which is a mix of Old Europe and Colonial America? Either way, they use the word "okay" in dialogue which never fails to pull me out of the story. "Okay" has been used from the mid-nineteenth century forward. Don't write about witch-hunts then use "okay" to go with it, please.
And it's a very, very slow book. Within the first 100 pages nothing of particular importance happens - you'd think they could have been used to develop the characters, but they were all collections of traits, I never really felt as if they were real. All the effort that went into keeping the mystery just made all the character act oddly, since nothing in the dialogue or their actions could be revealed.
And to be honest, it got a bit tedious. All the talk of wickedness this, wickedness that, and the death rites, and the superstitions. The writing is fine, but there is something missing... how can you write about a bestial force slaughtering people in a superstitious village full of people who believe that fairies are out to get you... and make it boring? I don't know. (less)
Grace is an event planner who is busy making sure a Regency themed New Year's Ev...more
Actual rating: 1.5 stars
ARC provided by Carina UK through Netgalley
Grace is an event planner who is busy making sure a Regency themed New Year's Eve ball is a success. But at the stroke of midnight she finds herself in the actual Regency Era, skirts over her head. Jasper Mossman, the Earl of Bingham, comes to her rescue, and Grace decides to whisk him away for a quick make-out. Which is very much frowned upon during the time period in question, so now Jasper insists they must be married.
This started off on a weird note. Grabbing a complete stranger at an event you're responsible for - effectively during your working hours - and making out with him without so much as a "Hey, you!" is not frowned upon just during the Regency period...
What was this woman thinking?
I guess she wasn't, because she was completely taken by his looks:
"My God, he looked like Ryan Gosling in ‘The Notebook’."
What? Scruffy, blond, and sickly?
"He was the epitome of tall, dark and handsome."
So... I guess not?
When it comes to the narrative, this book is a mess from the start. It's third person limited, but jumps without warning from character to character. We start out with Grace's point of view, then we jump to Anne's (Jasper's jilted fiancée), then to Jasper, to Grace again, to Jasper, and then to a Mrs Hillary Barrett - all within the first 13 pages! I mean... what is the author doing?
And Jasper thinks she is related to his business rival... Why is an Earl involved in trade? They wouldn't even dream of sullying their name with anything of the sort during the Regency! They had a man of business to deal with anything to do with money.
Many things happen for nonsensical plot-convenient reasons, for instance, Lord Lancaster, after some ridiculous back and forth arguments, believes Grace to be his American granddaughter by a conveniently absent son... and as it turns out, he is actually her great-great-grandfather. Anne's brother is indebted and was counting on his sister's marriage to Jasper to provide him with some funds. So, after Jasper and Grace's engagement is announced he eerily tells his sister - who is fully aware of his character - to befriend her ex-fiancé's new fiancée and concludes with the sinister: "you just do your part and I’ll do mine." Anne, who until now seemed like a sensible woman, just goes along with it because "she would love to have another friend"... Anne's brother, by the way, is an absurd villain, to the point where he actually laughs maniacally at his own devious plots.
And I really disliked the casual ableist slur from Grace:
“That is retarded.” “Retarded? I hardly think that’s an appropriate word.”
Girl, when even a man from the Regency era thinks that is wrong... But if you're from 2014 you should know not to say the r-word.
There was some talk of love, to me all there seemed to be was lust, especially when this exchange between the "lovebirds" came about:
“Don’t worry, I won’t let you go,” he whispered as his arms tightened around her body, supporting her weight as he bent her backwards for better access to her breasts. His words sent ice through her veins and she pushed away from him and stumbled out of his arms. She wasn’t thinking clearly, how could she with blood rushing in her ears? “I don’t belong to you.” She needed to distance herself from him. “What are you talking about, Grace? All I said was I wasn’t going to let you fall. I would hate to see you hit your pretty little head and maybe knock some sense into it.”
Wow. Romantic. And on that note, I must say I didn't find anything particularly hot about their sexual encounters, so...
Though, I have to admit there were a few moments that made me laugh, such as:
"Both his heart and his penis leapt with hope."
And Grace singing Carly Simon's You're So Vain at a musical recital.
But this really needed to be better researched, and the plot needed to be properly developed, without so many convenient occurrences and silly misunderstandings to add drama. Conclusion: an interesting premise but a poor execution. (less)
First of all, I need to address this: IDW, I am sure Netgalley offers the option of DRM protecting yo...more
ARC provided by IDW Publishing through Netgalley
First of all, I need to address this: IDW, I am sure Netgalley offers the option of DRM protecting your files. This already happened with vol. 2 of X-Files Season 10, but at least the quality of the file was high enough that even with this on top of it:
Annoying though it may have been, you could still tell what was being said. But this?!
Girl, I wish I could let my eyes relax!
You cannot lower the image quality and paste this atrocity on top. This pdf was only 88 pages long and my eyes are burning so much I'm considering taking a melon baller to the fucking things! Look at this:
I'm pretty sure I could pass the final exam for a degree on cryptography after reading this volume. I am begging you, please find a better solution to protect your files!
But onto what really matters, the graphic novel itself.
Edith and Magdalena are fetish models - they do latex fashion shows in fetish clubs. When the story begins they're not exactly best friends - but one thing unites them: a creepy man in the club unsettles them both so much they decide to have him thrown out.
Creepy dude gone, they have a show to do. ...Except, walking on the catwalk, feeling more and more drained and insecure with each step taken, Edith sees the man they'd had thrown out. He didn't look the same, he wore a different face. But it was him.
Shaken, she agrees to walk to a hotel with all the other models. And then blank. Later she wakes up covered in blood, only she and Magdalena are alive, and the mysterious Beatrice who'd slaughtered their attacker - a Memory Collector: a soulless creature who fed on emotionally charged memories - offers to train them.
This is how Edith and Magdalena end up becoming hunters.
The artwork is, quite honestly, out of this world amazing. The actual Memory Collectors were something that belonged in an art gallery, seriously mind blowing. The whole atmosphere: light, colours. I don't even have the words to do justice to how absolutely perfect the artwork was. The Glamour Memory Collector was worthy of H. R. Giger, and the whole juxtaposition of the sexualised female form with graphic violence and the unsettling cycling from dreamy to nightmarish backgrounds, was reminiscent of Serpieri.
It was all so unbelievably gorgeous, I felt like most of it should be framed and on display.
At times the narrative was at odds with the artwork, and it detracted a bit from the story. You'd have some unbelievably creepy things happening, and then some mundane remarks to go with it. For the story, Edith needed to be less simplistic, and some of the things she said just didn't ring true, they weren't a woman's voice. Mind you, more often than not it was on point.
I would definitely recommend it for the artwork alone, but the story is also engaging, creepy, and incredibly original. (less)
The book starts with Kate brimming with excitement over finally getting to visit Blackmoore. Her el...more
ARC provided by Shadow Mountain through Netgalley
The book starts with Kate brimming with excitement over finally getting to visit Blackmoore. Her elation is interrupted by her sister's loud sobbing because the gentleman for whom she had a crush is leaving forever. But it serves to show the reader, right from the start, what sort of character Kate is:
"if you refuse to see reason, then I refuse to comfort you."
I don't care if it was a silly infatuation, if your sister is sad enough to be crying, how about you save the lecture for later and comfort her? This isn't being a strong female character. Strong female characters are there for other women. This is being an asshole.
"another sobbing wail came from the hall. I tipped my head back and yelled out over the noise, “Mozart is not meant to be played this way! It is an insult to his musical genius!”
Really? I'm hating Kate already and I'm only 2% into this book...
Do you know how in some books we get those weird descriptions like, "His eyes were the colour of agates, and his burning passion made them sparkle and shimmer, like sizzling drops of ichor on an incandescently sharp blade."
I never thought it could get more ridiculous than this until I read Blackmoore, where what could have been a quick description of Kate's mother's eyes (they were brown) turns into a ~deep~ retelling of a ~traumatic~ event in Kate's childhood, that serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever:
"I stared at her eyes. They were the same color as an old, rusted trap I had found in the woods when I was seven. A rabbit had been gripped in its iron teeth. The little thing was no longer struggling when I found it, but it still breathed, and it saw me. Its eyes moved when I bent over it. I tried frantically to free the animal, but the rusted old metal would not yield to my prying fingers. In desperation, I had finally run to Delafield Manor and dragged Henry back through the woods. He looked at the rabbit. He shook his head. He picked up a large rock and told me to turn away and cover my ears. I cried, but I did as he said. A few moments later, his hand was on my shoulder, and I opened my eyes and lowered my hands. He said that the rabbit was no longer suffering. He said that was the best we could do for the poor thing. I supposed Henry got rid of the trap later. I never saw it again, even though I spent nearly every day in the woods. But I could not forget the look of it. I could not forget the large teeth and the rusted color and the tenacity of its grip. In this moment, I saw the same cold tenacity in my mother’s eyes."
Despite berating her little sister for a lack of practicality when it comes to emotions, Kate is seriously unhinged. Everything, and I really do mean everything, is a drama for her.
We find out that Kate has been insisting that her friend Sylvia invite her to Blackmoore, even though every year Sylvia's mother refuses it. A normal person would have taken the hint after the first refusal, but Kate insists on interrogating her friend as to why, exactly, she is not welcome.
Kate seems seriously deranged regarding Blackmoore. To the point where even her friend Sylvia and her friend's brother Henry find her actions weird.
“Kitty is longing to see Blackmoore. Again.” Sylvia spoke with an air of forced patience, which made me sit up straight and drop my hands. “You do not understand. Neither of you,” I looked from her to Henry and back again. Both watched me as if I were slightly mad. “You have always been able to go there, and I never have.”
Can you imagine this conversation with one of your friends?
Creepy Friend: CAN I GO WITH YOU TO YOUR HOUSE. You: I'm sorry, no. I've asked mother several times and she always refuses. Creepy Friend: BUT I NEED TO SEE YOUR HOUSE. ALL OF IT. I NEED TO BE IN IT. You: ...listen, it's just a house... Creepy Friend: YOU ARE NOT CAPABLE OF UNDERSTANDING ME. YOU GET TO GO TO YOUR HOUSE AND I DON'T. I. NEED. TO. BE. INSIDE. YOUR. HOUSE.
I guess Kate is also some kind of proto-furry, a Victorian furry? Because she constantly refers to herself in avian terms. Everything is a "cage" to her. She feels connected to wild birds. She needs to hear birds. Oh look, sea birds! She "felt like a bird who had wandered into some strange flock". She stands vigil over a birdcage. Henry starts addressing her as "little bird". She has an over-dramatic meltdown over a bird cage. I swear!
"I slid off the piano bench and walked numbly to the birdcage. Kneeling before the cage, I gazed at the dark, silent bird. I touched the gilded iron bars, softly, then ran my fingers up and down their length. My heart was breaking. There was no mending of this crack. It ran too deep. My fingers curled around the iron bars of the cage, and I felt how this cage was as strong as it was decorative. And suddenly I hated it. I hated everything about the cage, and everything about the cage of my own life. I rattled the bars, without thinking, my rage rising within me."
There was an actual frightened bird inside that birdcage, just so you know. And no, I'm not missing the anvil-like metaphor between Kate's life and a birdcage. Especially since, even after that cited excerpt, the author feels the need for this:
“I feel caged. Always. I feel like I am this bird, trapped and stifled and caged, and I keep looking for a way to escape, but I am barred at every turn.”
Why all this?
This is just... talking down to your readers, aka insultingly bad writing.
Kate doesn't just obsess over birds, and delusions of possessing Blackmoore. There is also India. India where she can be free. India where she could go with her aunt Charlotte. ...India where colonialism is ravaging an entire country and stealing all its riches from the native inhabitants leaving deep post-colonial scars felt even today. You know... the stuff dreams are made of.
This is being shelved as "clean romance", personally, I find vilifying and slut shaming your own mother and sister to be more reprehensible than a more heated scene... I find portraying every female character that is not the protagonist as a scatter-brained, untrustworthy flirt, to be more damaging than a roll in the hay. But that's just me...
I also didn't find it helpful that we're given hints of past events throughout the book, to add mystery, I suppose. But given that in a Gothic novel the heroine is kept in the dark (and we along with her), but in this one she's in on the secrets all along - she's just not telling us... - it was frustrating!
This book just felt like someone grabbed a histrionic protagonist from a YA from the 21st century and dropped her in the nineteenth century - expecting us to sympathise with her. I'll be the first to sympathise with the plight of women with so few choices as the ones in Kate's position, so how horrible a character was she that I couldn't care at all, and spent the whole book checking how long I still had to read before I reached the end? (less)
ARC provided by Curiosity Quills Press through Netgalley
While people on the surface aren't allowed - or have to possess immense power or wealth to b...more
ARC provided by Curiosity Quills Press through Netgalley
While people on the surface aren't allowed - or have to possess immense power or wealth to be allowed - to have children, in the Basement, the genomes of the world's brightest are collected and used to create improved clones. They start with the omega, and perfect the following copies until they get the perfect child.
The world above isn't aware of what's going on in the Basement, where these children, genetically engineered to lack aggression, sexual needs, and several other "undesired" traits, start working in the fields they were created for as soon as they turn ten.
Cipher, considered a failed experiment, goes through her day-to-day life longing for the world above, but somewhat content in her work in engineering.
That is, until a live feed is broadcast revealing their existence and preceding the detonation of several bombs which destroy the entire Basement, killing everyone in it... except for Cipher.
Now she has to survive the world above, the media's interest in her, and the web of intrigue that surrounds her very existence.
I liked Cipher. She's not whiny, she gets things done. She's upset over the ostracism she faces in the Basement on account of being considered imperfect, a failed first experiment. But she delights in her work and foregoes making an effort to fit in - she knows they'd never accept her anyway, she might as well be herself.
There are some inconsistencies with the world building, especially in the Basement.
Cipher tells us that:
"That smell of talc and formula always made me feel strange and sad, because I knew that no one would pick up or gentle those babies until they were old enough to sit up on their own."
This seems... counter-productive. Babies need human contact to develop properly, if they don't get it they can display failure to thrive, or develop issues later. It makes no sense to genetically engineer perfect children and then not provide them with proper care.
Her foster-father explains that the Basement's inhabitants "don’t have the hormones that make them want to have children of their own."
...that's dangerous. The endocrine system is complex, androgens, estrogens, and their effects, have other functions besides the ones related to sexuality.
Then, of course, there is Victorious, or Tor, also created in the Basement, but his skills (he was made from the donations of a brilliant military strategist and the fittest soldier) could only be properly tested in the world above, so his mother managed to adopt him. For someone who's the son of the most brilliant military strategist, it's jarring that he's the only character in this book I could actually label as being tstl. Yes, even with the explanation to some of his more ooc actions.
I also though Tor was 40-something by his description:
"warm eyes, which had smile-lines fanning out from the sides" "His mouth, I noted for no particular reason, was a little too wide, with deep grooves on either side."
But, as it turns out, he's 18?! Supposedly to make him closer in age to 16 year old Cipher, but still... what an odd description for an 18 year old...
He's brought in to the hospital in which Cipher is recovering, being the only other person with a similar life experience. Now, Cipher had preciously told us that there were a "thousand people in the Basement, and [she] knew every one of them". This isn't far-fetched, that's the average number of students at a high school, and one can generally know everyone at least by sight, and that's without even living with them 24/7, since birth. But she doesn't know Tor at all?
"“You don’t remember me, do you?” His smile faded, just a little."
Cipher seems unconcerned with this... I don't know. I wouldn't be. I found him a bit creepy, to be honest, always calling her "love" (even after she specifically told him not to call her that!) and mentioning he'd been watching her while he was in the Basement, and never forgot her, and worried about her...
However, when he tells her, "You shouldn’t trust me", Cipher refreshingly goes against YA clichés and does just that.
"Tor was a killer, bred, born, and trained. I wouldn’t allow myself to mistake his way of holding himself for gentleness."
She doesn't trust him. She doesn't trust anyone.
She also doesn't just move on from the loss she suffered. Too often we see YA protagonists losing their parents (the missing parent trope at work!) and just moving on because they have this wonderful new ~dreamy~ boy or girl to obsess over. Cipher's losses weigh on her. She may not have been close to most of the people in the Basement other than a few - but they were all the people she'd met in her entire life. It was realistic, and a welcome change to see her grieve for them.
There was a bit too much tell instead of show - Cipher's rants and monologues, for instance. But, on the whole, it was pretty good, solid writing - not so much the pacing: midway through the story it started to lag a bit.
I loved Bowen and Oona - especially Oona! There were time lapses in the book and I think they did the story a disservice. The slow growth of the relationships portrayed should have been shown instead of just saying "it's been x time and now we're close".
There is a sort of love triangle in this book, I personally didn't even really see it as such, because I never considered any of them to be proper love interests, so I just ignored that bit. If you hate love triangles (and who doesn't?!), don't let that keep you from reading this book.
All in all, it was an entertaining dystopia, even if it lacked a bit of urgency to it. If you're in the mood for a YA dystopia with clever protagonists and without the romantic clichés, give this book a chance! (less)
Kyra is a thief trying to make ends meet when she's taken into the Assassi...more
actual rating: 2.5 stars
ARC provided by Disney-Hyperion through Netgalley
Kyra is a thief trying to make ends meet when she's taken into the Assassins Guild. There she hones her skills and learns a few new tricks. Tristam is close to his knighthood when barbarians riding demon cats attack and kill his best friend. This makes Tristam choose a path which will allow him to seek justice for his fallen friend.
I was really, REALLY excited for this book, but that excitement died down within the very first chapter. Now, don't get me wrong, there is nothing bad about this book. There is nothing particularly good about it, either, and that's the problem.
I didn't dislike Kyra, but I didn't like her, either. She was just... there. She starts off badly right on the first chapter - the head of the Assassins Guild blatantly hires her to test her skills, and she can't even figure this out. A 17 year old girl who spent most of her life fending for herself on the streets... lacks the street-smarts to see this? I wanted her to be cleverer! Mind you, perhaps I am a bit spoiled by Megan Whalen Turner's Eugenides, but Kyra never really shined... She was a good thief because she'd trained herself to physically be so, out of necessity. There is very little of her outsmarting anyone else.
And there's the sense that there was a bit of chickening out in this book: Kyra joins the Assassins Guild. I expected her to learn how to become an assassin? But she can't even bring herself to watch someone take a beating, and spends her time drawing maps and harbouring vague concerns over the morality of her employers. When she kills, she's horrified at what she's done.
"There were steps she wasn’t willing to take. The kill had been an accident. She wasn’t an assassin, and she wouldn’t kill a Council member. She couldn’t."
Then why did she join the Assassins Guild?! How stupid is this girl?! Obviously, I'm not advocating murder as a viable professional choice for young ladies, but why have one of your protagonists join an Assassins Guild if this isn't used in her training and growth as a character? To sound cool?
Tristam isn't any more interesting. I guess, perhaps, he is even less: at least Kyra has a few protégés and some kind of life outside of her work...
Tristam's story starts with the usual Friendly Target trope - you know, his best friend dies so Tristam can have a purpose in the plot.
He wanted to patrol roads (I didn't really get the concept of knighthood in this book? Wouldn't patrolling roads be a task for a guard?) but his friend's tragic (and inevitable) death makes him pledge his service to Sir Malikel - probably the only interesting character in the book: a foreigner whose cunning and skill elevated him to the role of Minister of Defense. Tristam expects to fight the barbarians who "kind of" killed his friend. I say "kind of" because let's be honest: it was mostly his friend's own incompetence that got him killed. Instead we're treated to Tristam building aqueducts and supervising evictions of shopkeepers who can't keep their business afloat with all the raids depriving them of their stock.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the barbarian invaders raiding farms and cities attack with demon cats. As if there are any other kind.
There needed to be more of a marker to signify a change of point of view. We go on for 5 chapters told from Kyra's point of view, and then the 6th is told from Tristam's with no warning whatsoever. I mean, after a few chapters I noticed Kyra's chapters started with a:
And Tristam's chapters started with a:
But these are somewhat obscured by the initial at the beginning of the chapter. Wouldn't it be easier for the reader to just have the name of the character from whose point of view we're reading stated at the beginning of each chapter? Just my opinion...
This book is aimed at readers 12 and up, so it's YA, I guess? But I've read plenty of Middle Grade books more complex and advanced than this...
I'm sorry to say this, but I found this book incredibly boring and extremely simplistic. Take this with a grain of salt, though. What doesn't work for me, may very well work for others... (less)
I'm ashamed to admit I started reading this book as a joke.
It hadn't been too long since I was complaining about the scientific inaccuracies in ano...more
I'm ashamed to admit I started reading this book as a joke.
It hadn't been too long since I was complaining about the scientific inaccuracies in another book, so I thought this would be more of the same, with the added lurid element of romance with a caveman.
I really, really take it badly when a book shows evidence of lack of research, especially scientific research, because I know people read it and form wrong ideas about the subjects approached.
But Shay Savage did the right thing: right before the book started she explained a bit about Broca's area (though, for some reason, not Wernicke's area) and made a point to say something along the lines, hey this isn't right in my book, but I'm claiming artistic licence.
An author needs only make this clear and I'm open to read anything, to be honest.
And I'm so glad that, pretentious though my initial approach to this book may have been, I decided to read it anyway. Because this book is AMAZING.
Shay Savage insists that we're not to take the story too seriously and then proceeds to write an extraordinary book.
Ehd is a caveman. No details of his exact subspecies and, to be honest, since this is sci-fi, no details are needed. It's irrelevant because this book is so well written, the story is so riveting that it manages to have just about 2 lines of dialogue in over 300 pages and you don't even care.
But back to the plot - Ehd is a caveman. He lost his entire tribe in a forest fire and he's been finding it hard to find the will to go on living now that he's alone.
Until he finds Elizabeth in the pit he'd dug.
Elizabeth is, quite obviously to us readers but not something that could even cross Ehd's mind, a time-traveller. A young woman who's terrified to find herself suddenly in the middle of the woods, and even more terrified when she comes face to face with a caveman determined to have her for a mate.
I know many of you are rolling your eyes at this, "Oh, the old mate thing from Paranormal Romances, no thanks." Hold on. It could not be farther from that. Ehd sees her as a mate because there is no one else, she's a woman, he's a man, and that's basically all he knows of life: survive, find a mate, protect her and your children, provide for them. We may scoff, but survival is no joke if we're dropped in the wilderness with all the equipment needed to make it - let alone in the Stone Age with nothing but our wits.
No matter how hard Elizabeth tries to communicate with Ehd, he is devoid of the ability to understand language. He manages to learn her "name-sound" Beh, and that's it.
I think it was brilliant to have the book narrated from Ehd's point of view. We get to see his frustration at Beh's incessant sounds, we get to see his confusion over the fact that Beh is not in the slightest interested in him giving her a baby, we get to see his bafflement at Beh's insistence to never let him see her naked.
And we get to see his patience. His relief at no longer being alone.
It reminded me of the loneliest man in the world - in case you don't know the story, deforestation means that greedy lumber companies think nothing of slaughtering tribes of native Amazonians. In one such case only a single man survived the slaughtering of his tribe (which seems to have been one without any contact with the modern world). Now he lives alone in the Amazonian jungle, going through the motions of the day-to-day life of his people. Alone. He shows no interest in having any sort of contact with anyone and, really, can we blame him?
So with this story in mind, I really felt for Ehd. It must be terrible to be the last of your people. To go on day after day. Alone.
And his happiness at having Beh with him is palpable. Perhaps she's weird, her furs are strange, she's very insistent on bathing, and she keeps making noises with her mouth. But she's his Beh and now he has purpose in his life: to protect her, to provide for her and maybe, someday, she'll agree to see him as worthy of being her mate and they can have children of their own - a new tribe.
And it's... touching to see their relationship grow, even though they want different things, even though they literally do not understand each other. It's slow and it feels real, and it was lovely.
It also is quite accurate depicting their struggles for survival. Every day there was gathering, hunting, keeping the fire from going out. there was fighting off predators, and work, work, work, from dawn to dusk.
And I have to admit it, it made me cry, I can't say what exactly because I don't want to spoil this for anyone, but there were at least two times I was left in tears.
I don't even know how to recommend this book - but please see past the silly-sounding blurb, past the cover, and past the mocking reviews. And please, please, give this book a chance!!
I'm one of the pickiest reviewers in the world and the ebook wasn't enough for me, I need to go buy the paperback.