I hope you are all well. I have kindly been contacted by Rebecca Crunden to review her book A Touch of Death, the first book in The Outlands Pentalogy. As I said before, I fell out of dystopian novels and I’m very happy I got the opportunity to read this! I also asked the author if she would give me an interview and she kindly said yes so enjoy!!
Title: A Touch of Death (The Outlands Pentalogy #1)
Author: Rebecca Crunden
Synopsis (Goodreads): A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favourite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears.
A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future, but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him.
Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids.
Release Date: first published February 23rd 2017
4 stars: Aphrodite – Goddess of love and beauty. That means that I really liked the book, whether it was the writing style, plot or characters. It means it was an amazing book that I would completely recommend for the beautiful piece of art it is.
3 stars: Apollo – God of archery, music and dance, the Sun and light, poetry, and more. I really like Apollo and what he represents. That means that I really enjoyed the book and my experience reading it. That means the book is worthy of Apollo.
This book reconciled me with dystopian novels!!
What I liked
I really liked the beginning in medias res. It made for an interesting perspective and it made me want to keep up with the story as the answers appeared along the way. In terms of writing style, I really enjoyed how swiftly and seamlessly the story flew. I think the author did a very good job in terms of pace. There was never a dull moment and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next! I really liked reading about Nate and Kitty’s journey and especially when they met the three other travelers, they felt like family and I really enjoyed reading about the group’s dynamic. It was heartwarming.
I used to love dystopian novels more than anything and this book reconciled me with the genre. I think the world building was very clever and rich. There were so many elements that unfolded and that we got to discover as opposed to having a lot of info dumped on us from the beginning. I was very curious and I think the author managed to keep me satisfied even with that ending!! I really like the last 20% of the book where the action really picked up and we could really see the power dynamic. The characters fully came into themselves and I loved that.
What could have been better
I wish we had more tension and angst in terms of the “love triangle’. I was disappointed by the romance aspect in the story because Nate loves his brother more than anything but also loves his girlfriend and I didn’t feel the complexity and guilt that he should have had. There was not enough tension and I think that’s why I couldn’t rate it higher.
I have to say that I’m also frustrated that
*SPOILER* we didn’t get to see the Outlands; I thought the journey would be quicker and then we would see how they survived in the Outlands but that…didn’t happen. They traveled so far for four months which took up 80% of the book only to come back to Anais in two pages; I really didn’t understand that part and kind of disappointed by that.
END OF SPOILER*.
As I was reading, I was frustrated by not having a map because I was a little lost but there actually is a map on the author’s website!
The disease aspect was interesting and I’m glad how that changed the characters’ whole dynamic. Overall this is a quick-paced and enjoyable dystopian novel with a rich world, likable characters and a great friend dynamic. I recommend it for people who enjoy dystopian novels and those who want to slowly make their way back into the genre.
Karla: Welcome to anotherbookworm! You are the first author I’m interviewing so I am thrilled to have you here! Could you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Rebecca: Hi Karla, thank you so much for interviewing me! I’m a grad student in Ireland studying military history. I write books on the side to keep myself sane!
Karla: Thank you so much for contacting me for your book. I read the synopsis and I was immediately intrigued. How did the idea about the Outlands come to you? (The universe, the characters, the intrigue, etc…)
Rebecca: I started writing the books after finishing my undergrad as a way to reconnect with my creative side, which I lost a little bit in college. I wrote the basis of all five before starting to publish them a few years later.
Karla: I have to say that I used to be a huge reader of dystopias but fell out of the genre; what do you think makes dystopias so special?
Rebecca: I feel like they’re a very good way to address current world problems and frustrations through allegory.
Karla: I also saw that you run a Twitter account called the @BookSpotlight where you give some much-needed attention to indie published works. So, I was wondering, how do you build a reader base when you’re an indie author?
Rebecca: Oh gosh, it’s definitely tough. I’ve been working steadily to gain readers since I first started publishing my books in 2017. I think it’s just determination and good will, really. I couldn’t have got half as far without wonderful readers and reviewers giving my books a chance.
Karla: What is next for you?
Rebecca: I just published my new novel, These Violent Nights, which is a standalone novel that blends fantasy, science fiction and, again, dystopian themes!
Karla: And to finish, a little bit of a question I like asking people when I meet them: what is your favorite place to be in the world?
Rebecca: Amsterdam, for sure.
Thank you again for doing this interview Rebecca!
Thank you for reading!