In Robin’s thriller, a grieving woman travels to a new world and goes on a mission to upset her new society’s status quo.
As she mourns the recent death of her husband, Karen Jacobs decides to go on a tour of an archeological dig in Egypt. When she touches an odd glyph in a temple, she finds herself transported to a strange new world. Local nomads save her from starvation and rename her Karn, and they all eventually make their way to the village of Tidrine, where she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s been displaced by the glyph. For many years, outsiders known as Seikos have traveled to the village via the glyph, and they’ve installed themselves as Tidrine’s despotic rulers. Five years pass as Karn lives among the poor farmers, and she teaches a few of her trusted friends how to catch mice to supplement their meager rations, as well as how to build stone fireplaces to warm their drafty houses. Eventually, the Seikos grow suspicious of her and decide to force her into servitude of the cruel High Priest. She resists, however, and takes control of the priest’s household, using her newfound power to try to change the lives of Tidrine’s common people. However, many dangers remain, and Karn must decide whether it’s better to stay and try to improve the village or to flee and start anew. Author Robin creates an intriguing setup that feels like it could have been a plot for a classic Doctor Who episode. However, the book’s worldbuilding is a bit too haphazard; readers may hunger for more detailed mythology regarding the glyphs and Tidrine, and particularly regarding the powerful blue and red crystals that people use as weapons. They may also wish for more of Karn’s background prior to the events of this story; such insight would likely make readers even more invested in her actions. However, the somewhat abrupt ending may give readers hope that further installments will provide more in-depth looks into both Karn and her world.
A journey to a messy but promising new universe.