Please, please read the blurb for this book. The cover makes much more sense when you do and you will enjoy the story a heck of a lot more if you read the blurb. I've seen genre mismatch disasters before and if you read the blurb you won't have that problem.
We start off with Slade. He has been adopted by an 'Orgress' and when she dies it sets him on a path to get justice from the people who senselessly took her life. The journey will certainly take Slade away from his relatively sheltered life he has led till this point.
I'm not a fan of apostrophe used in names but the author has used it the right way. With purpose and not nearly as willy nilly as others like Stargate. I'm looking at you Teal'c. Instead the apostrophe is used to denote caste and adds to the rich tapestry of the world building.
I loved B'yond. Which I think is strange as he isn't the good guy. But he isn't the bad guy either because you can see where he comes from. That is always the best sign of a good bad guy. I love this ambiguity in the characters as reality is never so black and white that you can place people clearly as friend or foe.
I thought Matilde was a little stiff but I suppose this is accurate for royalty. Even though I wasn't a fan of her I really wanted more women in the story. Most of the women are spread out and never really interact with each other. Despite having strong female characters this story only manages to barely scrape through the Bechdel test on page 200. Disappointing.
Northewind though not very talkative is awesome. A masked man he certainly is filled with mystery. We get little nibbles of his identity all through the story. Very well done.
This story is filled with a large cast. Each character is in each section of Slade's journey and are fleshed out enough with dynamic dialogue for us to remember them. I would have preferred fewer people and more description of the places but I'm actually surprised myself that I have this preference as I usually lean towards character based stories. I think it was just because there were so many that I was overwhelmed by all these characters.
The story is a lovely allegory for how we treat people who we perceive as different. That to overcome this prejudice we really need to make the time to get to know others for who they truly are. The author subverts fairy-tale elements into this darker post apocalyptic world. If you love fairy tales you will adore this novel as there are easter eggs of fairy tales all through the story.
I wasn't a fan of the info dump in the letter but the author isn't the first to do this and even books like 1984 do this. So I'll shrug and say each to their own. It certainly does give you the information that is needed to truly enjoy the rest of the story. There was also a little too much passive voice and an excessive use of exclamation marks but I'm being nit picky here.
You will get your money's worth as there really is enough in here for two books. There is so much happening that you will never be bored as you journey along with Slade. So this gets four stars. Mainly because I like a HEA and this one didn't have one. Sad face.