27231426“People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“She had to learn that the day granted hope and happiness, but I stole it. She had to face that the night hid evil and darkness, but my soul was blacker.” ― Pepper Winters, Debt Inheritance

Eva Thorne was born to be a monster, in a country of monsters. The Solhans are a “whole different category of human. One that most other races tended to hate.” Well, you can’t really blame them. Solhans glory in cruelty, dark magic, and buckets and buckets of blood – as long as it isn’t their own. Then, well, the Solhans opened a bit of dark magic that brought back their Dead God. And as a group that worships cruelty and death, their Dead God shouldn’t have been a surprise when he started slaughtering the very Solhans who worshiped him – along with half the rest of the world.

So, they became refugees, fleeing to other countries to escape the very God they were so gleeful to have brought back. Eva’s own family, the rich and massively powerful Thornes, found themselves in the Avian/Elf/Gnome controlled city of Highcrowne, the most ‘civilized’ place in the known world. Well, except for the fact that humans, like Eva, are pushed into the Outskirts, the dark garbage heap at the foot of the fabled city on the hill. Oh, and don’t forget that humans are also the slave labor that keeps Highcrowne’s very SteamPunk society running. Magic and machines, machines and magic. I loved it.

Eva’s family brought its power and dark magic with them when they came. They now rule over the Outskirts, wallowing in power, their hands in every evil, and yes, profitable, industry ripe for the picking. But Eva is determined, from a very young age, not to become what her family is – what her identical twin so easily became. So, she walks away, working in a café and living in a tiny apartment. She may not be rich, she may not be powerful, but above all? Eva is determined to keep her soul as her own.

Then her brother, the one ‘good’ person in her life, is murdered, his heart ripped out and taken away. Soul magic. And unless Eva can find his killer, and hopefully find his heart, Viktor’s soul will forever be captured and used for unknown, but certainly purely evil, purposes. Surrounded by family, who want to turn her to their Solhan ways (well, except for her twin, who just wants her to suffer greatly before slaughtering her), and a variety of human, gnomish, and ‘other’ people hanging around her and offering to ‘help’ for reasons of their own, Eva’s story is harsh, brutal, and obsessively readable. Finding her brother’s killer is going to be hard enough. But keeping her soul intact? That may be impossible.

I picked Tangle of Thornes up for free on May first and sat down this afternoon after wearing myself out with gardening (it was warm today, Yea!!). It is midnight now and I just finished the book. I hadn’t read the description (see what a good cover can do? It caught my eye and I opened it on my eReader) but I also wanted something by an author I hadn’t read before that had a female lead, and I picked it up. The first paragraph caught my attention, then I was all in.

“I’ve read a few of those hard-boiled detective novels. You know, The Maltese Griffin, Murder on the Troll Road … the classics. But none of them ever mentioned the smell. Mr. Hylar, my last hope, smelled like old sweat mixed with fermented stomach contents, some of which stained his shirt collar. City elves were like their country cousins: filthy.”

OK, THIS I can get behind! No tall, willowy Elves with long, shiny locks blowing in a magical breeze? Something Different! Whoot!

The second book in the series is A Thorne for a Crown. 28280519I won’t read the description of this one either, I will just wade right in. I don’t watch the “what’s happening next” at the end of a show I am watching either – I would rather watch it than have it described to me, so I will do the same here. I had to slap my own hand to keep myself from punching the “Read For Free” button when it popped up at the end, but I will wait or I will be up the rest of the night and into the morning!

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