Book Review: After The Darkness: Episode One, SunHi Mistwalker (2012)

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Feels Incomplete

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Member Giveaways program.)

I’m not quite sure how to review After The Darkness: Episode One. The first piece in a serial, Episode One feels very much like the opening two chapters of a larger book. Which it is, in a way. Unlike other serials I’ve read, though (and I admit that my experience here is limited; heck, I sometimes avoid reading duologies and trilogies until all the novels in the series are released!), Episode One doesn’t stand on its own; the story here feels incomplete, and the world-building, in need of further exploration.

Episode One opens with the kidnapping of 14-year-old Nadia and her younger sister Mila, seemingly for sale to slavers by mercenaries (or are they law enforcement officers?) Percy and Thomas. Nadia ends up at a Calcane City girls’ “hostel,” where she’s forced to compete with hundreds of other enslaved girls for tokens – and the entertainment of the elite, including her own kidnappers. We do not know what becomes of Mila, who wasn’t part of the contract, but simply found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s hinted that Nadia and Mila used to be part of the ruling class themselves – the term “level five” is bandied about – until their parents were betrayed by their compatriots. We’re not given any indication of her parents’ whereabouts, nor of how the girls have managed to care for themselves in the harsh, frozen landscape of Calcane City.

The premise is somewhat interesting, though I’m not sure it’s enough to compel me to pick up Episode Two. That’s the problem with serials – the format makes it way too easy to quit, especially if the author fails to hook you early on. I know so little about the story that I don’t feel particularly invested in it.

(More below the fold…)