Good morning Bibliofriends,
I was overjoyed and thrilled when Rebecca approached me to read and review the first book in her Outlands Pentalogy. A Touch of Death follows the story of Nate and Catherine as they embark on a journey as wanted criminals through the Kingdom of Cutta. After running into a spot of trouble in the mountains, Nate and Catherine become infected with a mysterious disease and are then wanted for an investigation into their strange circumstances. A notorious criminal and dissenter, the last thing Nate wants is to submit himself to interrogation at the hands of a department where its inmates seem to vanish. The pair decide to evade capture and go on-the-run seeking sanctuary and a new life in The Outlands. It’s only when the disease seems to become more deadly and impact upon their health, do the pair face a tricky decision: continue to seek a new life and possibly die trying… or return to the heart of the kingdom hoping to find an antidote without being detained and condemned.
Book: A Touch of Death (Book #1 – The Outlands Pentalogy) by Rebecca Crunden
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: 24th Feb 2017
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
A Touch of Death is an intriguing, dystopian thriller which left me curious as to how the series is going to develop next. I absolutely loved the attention to detail at the world-building in the Kingdom of Cutta. The fact that this place has a map won me over from the start, but the drip-by-drip feed on information and detail helped me to construct the kingdom in my mind. It really helps me to become invested into a place if I feel like I can visualise it in my head. Whilst the Kingdom of Cutta clearly has that dystopian feeling with the mention of radiation destruction, rabids and mutants, the characters, setting and feel of the whole novel gave off a brilliantly balanced futuristic fantasy vibe. By breaking the novel down into parts rather than chapters, it was clear to see how each element of the plot linked into the next and helped the story to flow.
Right from the off, it was immediately clear that Crunden is an author who isn’t afraid to take a risk. The lashing torture during the opening scene was a fairly harrowing reminder that A Touch of Death is firmly cemented in the adult section of the genre. It was a powerful opening prologue and helps you to understand later on why the characters fear Redwater prison so much.
I adored the city of Talon and it is now on my literary travels bucket list. The no-judgements imposed upon visitors as long as you follow the rules, time spent in the stunning library as well as the glorious sounding architecture and food makes it seem like the perfect place for communal living and offered up a stark contrast to the other places we’d visited in Cutta so far which were heavily regulated and policed.
The characters Tove, Zoe and Evander were a welcome introduction part way through the story. They provided some folklore, humour and helped to freshen up the plot of two characters on a quest to escape the kingdom. I really liked the different dynamic they added to the story.
Towards the end, Catherine’s thoughts that the world would be a better place without the strict and harsh ruling of Crown and Council (government) that dominate all in the Kingdom of Cutta, seemed incredibly poignant in today’s modern world and in particular the current challenges and opinions posed of governments during this global pandemic. I seem to have an affinity with these types of storylines due to my own personal political stances and views so Catherine’s perspective was really relatable.
The ending of A Touch of Death is neatly lined-up for the next book in the pentalogy. I would say that I think I needed a little more information throughout the story as to why Nate is so against Crown and Council, other than just his personal views and the treatment put upon him. I feel this was hinted at slightly, that there might be some other underlying reason there, but I wanted this to just be slightly more evident and almost leave me burning (pun intended!) as to what is going to happen next as the story doesn’t end on a cliffhanger or dramatic twist. Nevertheless, I’m still intrigued to explore more of the Kingdom of Cutta and learn the fates of characters who have been left with such a harsh hand dealt to them all – I’ll definitely be downloading the sequel!
What’s your favourite dystopian book? Do you think you’d prefer to live in a world 1000 years from now or are you happy in 2020? As always, drop me a comment to chat!