This book isn’t for the faint-hearted. The world it’s set in is a brutal one where slaves, or downers, are branded and are property to be used, abused and disposed of however their owner wants. The main protagonists live in a city covered by darkness by night and where everyone leaving must show their arms to prove they aren’t a downer.
Add to that the fact that most downers spend their lives on the starvation line, even those with owners, and that they face execution for any number of infringements and the setting is a dark one.
With so much darkness it would be easy to be bogged down and give up reading. That’s prevented by key characters that are not only likeable but who are under just enough pressure and in just enough danger at each step of the way to keep you reading. The pressure and danger get ratcheted up steadily but skillfully, and are interspersed with a few instances when they really do get a small break and a little space.
The wider story is introduced skillfully, slowly revealed without ever dumping too much info in one go. The writing is clean and clear in almost every section, though there was one section near the beginning of the book where an extra character seemed to materialise partway through a scene and was referred to as though they’d already been introduced. It might just be me, but I went back and read it twice and still felt the same way. That aside, the writing is excellent and very enjoyable.
Overall, a very good read set in a really interesting world. I’ll definitely be getting the next book in the series, and I highly recommend this one. Get it at Amazon US, Amazon UK or Here’s where you can buy it.