A 17-year-old girl and a 22-year-old man get caught up in a conflict between godlike beings that’s been raging for eons in Ashton’s debut mythic fantasy.
The worst part of hospital intern Fiona Megan “Fi” Patterson’s date with guitarist co-worker Zeke Prisco isn’t his awkward rejection of sex, but the fact that he witnesses her epileptic seizure, her first episode in years. (She’s a troubled girl, in general; her mom died a decade prior and she never knew her father.) Her seizure results in her having a dream of a baby, which she sees again in a vision when her regular patient Peter becomes atypically responsive. Then a group led by a man named Kleron arrives at the hospital to see Peter, and they embark on a murderous rampage when asked to show identification. Fi, Zeke, and Peter make it out alive and eventually get help from Fi’s uncle and guardian, Edgar. They soon learn that people known as the Firstborn have been around for millions of years, split into two rival bands. The Asura, who long ago opposed a being called Father, have launched a global attack against their enemies—Father’s warriors, the Deva. Fi and Zeke each discover special abilities as they struggle to survive harrowing battles with evil beasts bent on human domination—or annihilation. This novel, the first of a series, is dense with back story. There’s so much, in fact, that the main plot essentially stands still as readers catch up with it. The final act, however, features nonstop action with daunting villains; Max is the best one—a creepy vagrant and whose monstrous “Trueface” (or genuine appearance) Ashton teases for most of the narrative. There’s also an impressive blend of biblical and Greek mythologies, with numerous characters whose names readers will find familiar. This book is emphatically adult, with an abundance of coarse language and hefty violence—blood, beheadings, and spilled entrails. Ashton doesn’t address some lingering questions, such as who exactly Father is, until near the end, and others remain unanswered. But more is sure to come, as the coda leaves characters’ fates in the air and multiple worlds to explore.
A fast-paced, gloriously intricate introduction to a potential epic.