Lynesse is the Fourth Daughter of the queen with dreams of saving her kingdom just like her great grandmother Astresse. When a demon begins ravaging the land, she invokes the pact between her family and the Elder sorcerer who has inhabited a tower for hundreds of years. The sorcerer, Nyr, however, is actually an anthropologist, the last of a team sent from Earth to observe the people on this planet. Nyr has been cut off from Earth for hundreds of years and is not meant to interfere with the people, but Nyr believes the demon could actually be some kind of tech. With the fate of the people in their hands, Lynesse and Nyr set out on a journey across the land to find the demon and stop it.
I am absolutely obsessed with this book. If you’ve been around me in the last week, you will have heard me talk about it with nerdy enthusiasm. I think it is a clever book that straddles the line between fantasy and science fiction in a unique and exciting way.
The book is very short but it packs a major punch in terms of plot and character development. It alternates perspectives between Lynesse and Nyr, and I really love the way these alternate perspectives played with language. Nyr has technology that allows him to speak in Lynesse’s language, but often he lacks direct word translations so what Lynesse hears is different than what he’s trying to say. For example, when he tries to tell her is a scholar, it is translated as sorcerer. I thought the alternating perspectives was a clever way to show this language barrier. There was also an excellent chapter in which both Nyrand Lynesse share the story of how people came to be on their planet and though both describe it in very different ways, we can see how the story is ultimately the same. I just loved the play on language, especially in that chapter.
For how short the book is, the world-building is really fantastic. It’s easy to picture the villages and forests that they travel through, and the setting is deeply atmospheric. There’s also a layer of creeping suspense as they encounter mutilated animals that have fallen victim to the demon. Nyr, though he is a scientist and scholar, has never seen such things before which heightens the suspense leading into the zone where the demon is strongest.
I thought the plot moved really quickly and I was always excited to turn the page. If you’re looking for a book with strong world building, memorable characters, and compelling, clever prose, this is the one!
CW: graphic injuries, depression