From the moment the first settler dug a well and struck a lode of shine, the world changed. Now, everything revolves around that magical oil. What began as a simple scouting expedition becomes a life-changing ordeal for Arlen Esco. The son of a powerful mogul, Arlen is kidnapped and forced to confront uncomfortable truths his father has kept hidden. In his hands lies a decision that will determine the fate of everyone he loves—and impact the lives of every person in Shine Territory. The daughter of an infamous saboteur and outlaw, Cassandra has her own dangerous secrets to protect. When the lives of those she loves are threatened, she realizes that she is uniquely placed to change the balance of power in Shine Territory once and for all. Secrets breed more secrets. Somehow, Arlen and Cassandra must find their own truths in the middle of a garden of lies.
Again, flying through some reviews as I’m new here and want to share more from my top reads of the year to highlight the authors and what their writing achieves!
I read this one for the Indie Ink Awards, but I got the book on kindle from a free event ran by the author!
The author’s Twitter says, “Books on Amazon. They’ll break your heart,” and I don’t know for sure if she meant her own, but she’s certainly still right. This is one of the most heartfelt, and heartrending stories I have ever read. Every sentence is like a gut punch. Destroying the reader with ease.
This novel is also one of the more unique stories I’ve ever read. It’s fantasy, in a fantasy world, and yet it still reads like a period piece or historical fantasy for the Wild West. It has that industrial, gritty feel of a cowboy western, and it technically has a train heist!
The boundary, an invisible line to most that demarcates the civilized from the other, is where the fantasy elements are amped up. Inside the boundary folks are imbued through all things shine. Shine is somewhat like an essence or drug-like substance like in Dune, however here it functions as so much more. It stops the aging of food, keeps it at the correct temperature, stops rot, it heals people, and yet it can also destroy. Those that live with it and intake it show its use through a variety of colors. Your skin and hair may be orange or purple, green or blue.
In many ways this novel functions as a slice-of-life story. Except that every single character is being emotional decimated over and over, with nothing good staying. Cassandra has perhaps the most hurtful experience of all. And she has over a 15 year journey to her finally reaching her max. Arlen thinks everything is fine until it’s not. Sadly he doesn’t get to choose finding this out on his own, it’s thrust at him, as it so often is in life.
The author uses such broad strokes and fanciful writing that the mundane reads magical, the typical is anything but. And every paragraph and page is truly emotionally astounding. Metaphorically, lyrically, poetically brilliant.