Audio Run Time: 19 Hrs 23 Mins
Magic caused the war. Magic is forbidden. Magic will save us.
It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawling city at the heart of an endless maze where a million humans hosted the Houses of the Aelfir. The Aelfir who had brought trade and riches, and a future full of promise. But when the Thaumaturgists, overlords of human and Aelfir alike, went to war, everything was ruined and the Labyrinth became an abandoned forbidden zone, where humans were trapped behind boundary walls 100 feet high.
Now the Aelfir are a distant memory and the Thaumaturgists have faded into myth. Young Clara struggles to survive in a dangerous and dysfunctional city, where eyes are keen, nights are long, and the use of magic is punishable by death. She hides in the shadows, fearful that someone will discover she is touched by magic. She knows her days are numbered. But when a strange man named Fabian Moor returns to the Labyrinth, Clara learns that magic serves a higher purpose and that some myths are much more deadly in the flesh.
The only people Clara can trust are the Relic Guild, a secret band of magickers sworn to protect the Labyrinth. But the Relic Guild are now too few. To truly defeat their old nemesis Moor, mightier help will be required. To save the Labyrinth - and the lives of one million humans - Clara and the Relic Guild must find a way to contact the worlds beyond their walls.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is an intriguing start to a science fiction/fantasy series. I really enjoyed it!
I was recommended this book by Amazon through their Audible division, due to my taste in science fiction and fantasy. I was intrigued with the blurb, so I downloaded the audio book. The story is narrated by Imogen Church, who has also narrated Bridget Jones's Diary. She did a fantastic job in bringing the characters to life. I loved her speaking voice, and her reading pace was perfect.
Peppercorn Clara is a young woman of eighteen, who has been working as a prostitute in a brothel since the age of fourteen in the Labyrinth city called Labrys Town. I really liked her. She is stubborn and determined, and hiding a secret. She has magic in her veins and is a wolf shifter.
This is a unique story; the world building and character development is extraordinary. I loved the descriptions of the scenes and characters. The story has a post apocalyptic feel to it, with a hint of steampunk, which is further enhanced by the split timelines, which are forty years apart. The characters in both the past and the present are quite interesting. However, the changing timelines were a bit confusing at times. Trying to keep it straight in my head was a little like juggling apples (extremely difficult, since I don't juggle), but I persevered and found myself hooked! I even listened to the story twice! I was intrigued as to how one million humans ended up living in the middle of a labyrinth. Did they feel like prisoners, being trapped within the confines of Labrys Town after the portals were closed? Or, safe from the dangers of war ravaging the Thaumaturgists? This aspect was not explored by the author, but I couldn't help but wonder at it. But, if I lived in such a place, would I be happy, angry or sad at the circumstances? I don't know. Maybe a combination of those emotions. Nevertheless, the denizens of Labrys Town seemed resigned to their fate and carried on as normal.
I loved meeting Old Man Sam, a bounty hunter, and Vam Bam, the Resident of Labrys Town. They, along with a Necromancer called Hamir, and Marney, an empath, are the only remaining members of The Relic Guild. This guild acts as a magical police force, who confiscate objects that had been brought into Labrys Town by the Aelfir and the Thaumaturgists before they closed the borders, to keep the denizens safe. I loved Hamir; he is a very intriguing character, who has a very dry wit. He has been around for a long time and has seen and done a lot of things, but he seems ageless to me. Unfortunately, Fabian Moor, a renown Thaumaturgist thought to have died forty years previously, returns to Labrys Town after being in hiding. Enter Clara. What follows is a fast paced race against time, and a dangerous foe who will do anything to gain access to The Nightshade, the home of the Resident and the Guild. There are twists and turns galore, as well as magic in this tale, which kept me riveted. I was intrigued with the appearance of the mysterious avatar, who appeared to know everything that was going on, but refused to divulge too much information to the Guild members. I am not sure what he/she's motives are, but it will be interesting to find out. The end of the story left me hanging, as it finished on an unusual cliffhanger. I have a love/hate relationship with cliffhangers because they frustrate me to the point of screaming, but I am looking forward to continuing this story as soon as I can.
Edward Cox has written an interesting debut novel. I loved his fast paced writing style, but found the flow of the story to be a bit disjointed due to the flicking timelines. However, each timeline story flowed well within its respective space. I will be keeping an eye out for more of this author's work in the future.
Due to scenes of violence and abuse, I do not recommend this book for younger readers. However, I highly recommend this book if you love science fiction and dark fantasy genres. - Lynn Worton
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