A member of a visiting alien race becomes the subject of an orchestrated hunt on Earth.
In this sci-fi debut by an author team writing under a pseudonym, Earth in the near future has become a dystopian war zone since the event known as Hatred Day, when a portal opened in the atmosphere from the distant planet Armador. Through the portal had come members of an alien superrace called the Inborn, capable of great feats of physical strength and energy manipulation indistinguishable from sorcery. But the portal itself warps Earth’s biosphere, spoiling and mutating it, and the arrival of the Inborn sparks a 22-year conflict called The Inborn War and a worldwide hatred of these aliens, given vent every year on the anniversary of Hatred Day. The plot centers on an Inborn named Snofrid Yagami, whose friends seek to save her from the slave auction block of a filthy human-run ghetto in the city of Hollowstone. They succeed, despite some serious competitive bidding, only to realize that she’s experiencing a selective form of amnesia—she can’t recall specifics of her recent past or the identity of her friends. She scrambles to cope with the fallout of relationships she can no longer remember, with men like the munitions dealer Atlas Bancroft and the deadly state-sponsored killer Lucian Lozoraitis (“With hard angled brows, light stubble, and full chapped lips, he was an untidy sort of attractive; but his badger-grey eyes harbored a calculating flare”). The authorial device of giving Snofrid such a convenient case of amnesia wears thin and is never convincing as anything more than a means of making exposition possible. But this is a minor quibble in the face of the book’s smart and dazzling worldbuilding. The magic of the Inborn is intricately conceived, and the long-term ramifications of their arrival on Earth are worked out in thoroughly believable detail. The pleasingly complex plot moves its large cast of memorable characters through a carefully controlled escalation of dangers, with Snofrid and her comrades at the heart. This confident and captivating novel should leave readers eagerly anticipating future volumes.
The first gripping installment in a sci-fi series set in a future of fractious and dangerous alien apartheid.