Kiva trades one cage for another when she leaves behind a deadly prison for a deceptive palace in this dark and dangerous sequel to The Prison Healer, which Sarah J. Maas called “a must-read.”
Kiva Meridan is a survivor.
She survived not only Zalindov prison, but also the deadly Trial by Ordeal. Now Kiva’s purpose goes beyond survival to vengeance. For the past ten years, her only goal was to reunite with her family and destroy the people responsible for ruining their lives. But now that she has escaped Zalindov, her mission has become more complicated than ever.
As Kiva settles into her new life in the capital, she discovers she wasn’t the only one who suffered while she was in Zalindov—her siblings and their beliefs have changed too. Soon it’s not just her enemies she’s keeping secrets from, but her own family as well.
Outside the city walls, tensions are brewing from the rebels, along with whispers of a growing threat from the northern kingdoms. Kiva’s allegiances are more important than ever, but she’s beginning to question where they truly lie. To survive this time, she’ll have to navigate a complicated web of lies before both sides of the battle turn against her and she loses everything.
Elise’s world is forever changed when she is given the opportunity of a lifetime – to work at the Museum of Evolution and be a Companion to the Neanderthal, Subject Twenty-One.
As a Sapien, a member of the lowest order of humans, she and others like her are held responsible for the damages inflicted on the world by previous generations. This job may be Elise’s only chance to escape a stagnating life in an ostracised and impoverished community.
But it doesn’t take long for Elise to realise that, away from the familiarity and safety of her home, her own secrets are much harder to conceal.
And the longer she stays the more she comes to realise that little separates her from the exhibits . . . and a cage of her own.
Subject Twenty One is the first book in A.E Warren’s series Tomorrow’s Ancestors. Tagged as ‘Jurassic Park meets Sapiens’ I was quick to sign up to this Book Blog Tour and get my hands on a copy to read and review. Subject Twenty One was gifted to me by the publisher Del Rey and is set to be released on 1st July … along with book two The Hidden Base which I will be reading and reviewing as soon as it plonks through my letter box!
A.E Warren self published these books previously (under different titles) and I’m so glad they got picked up! Reading Subject Twenty One was easy, the story gripped me completely right from the beginning and it kept my attention all the way through. I loved how much research had been undertaken in writing this book but how this didn’t make it ever feel overwhelming or complicated. Warren has created a fascinating class system with various quirks and categories, all while weaving a heartfelt narrative.
For me, the connections between the characters was key. Elise is hired to be a companion to Twenty One, a Neanderthal who has been brought to life in order to be an exhibit in a museum as well as be part of an experimental program. She leaves her family to do this job and in turn discovers more about the other classes and the events in history which brought about their current situation. In the museum, Elise encounters a Potior, the highest class of being but also other Sapiens, like herself. By the end of the book, Elise has brought together an interesting group who work really well together and I was fully invested in them all.
As a setting, the museum was amazing, I could imagine it very clearly – I’d very much like to visit it! It definitely gave off Jurassic Park vibes but there is nothing wrong with that at all, I loved it! The genetic engineering aspect was one that I personally felt could have been explored in more depth but I also think that doing so would have strained the main storylines progression.
Overall, I enjoyed Subject Twenty One a lot and will be reading book two ASAP. It is YA and offers a thought provoking look at humanity and the future as well as the past. I will say that this book includes details of a Pandemic which some of you may not want to read about just yet but I found the detail was sparing and not gratuitous, only really mentioning it in passing. Warren writes a unique and intriguing narrative in a believable dystopia.
While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.
But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.
Thank you to Orbit Books and Netgalley for the review e-copy!
This was a journey for me to read! In a good way! I really enjoyed it but I would be lying if I didn’t say it took me a while to get through and that is in no way a negative reflection on the book. Winter’s Orbit is ultimately a science-fiction YA novel but actually it is so much more. Maxwell has woven such a detailed plot, I found myself blown away when I first picked this book up – there is very much a political backstory within Winter’s Orbit. And with that backstory comes a whole heap of backstabbing, mystery, loyalties and connections. I’m not quite sure how Maxwell kept this book to it’s 432 pages as there is so much to take in. Every character has thorough thoughts, feelings and agendas – nothing is skipped out on.
So, when I first picked up this book back in February, I had just come out of a reading frenzy of fantasy which meant when I started to read Winter’s Orbit I just couldn’t get my head in the right place at all so I wasn’t following the story. I paused my read and took on some lighter bits before returning to Winter’s Orbit in early April. I was ready and eager and honestly, I sped through the final 300 pages at light speed. I did not want to put this book down!
I loved the relationships between the characters – Jainan and Kiem very much have my heart and I want to see more of them. Maxwell’s fluid use of genders and sexality in this book is frankly, refreshing and needed. I will be shoving Winter’s Orbit under several people’s noses I can assure you. The way we saw a vulnerability to Jainan (and Kiem) broke my heart so much, their awkward interactions in the beginning were so real for me I couldn’t help but become invested.
The setting for this book is notably, in another set of worlds where space travel is a usual and common thing which really gave Maxwell free reign in her use of character design, world building and storytelling. There are so many elements to touch upon. I feel like I need to re-read it already to get my head around my words. I did feel like I needed a road map at the beginning! I would love to have more books in this universe, so that I can see all of the wonderful nations included in the narrative. I really do think this book has everything, even a royal family.
I’ve rated this at 4.5 and would easily push that to a 5 on a re-read I think!
Titan Books sent me an e-copy of this book in exchange for a review!
An enchanted tale of intrigue where a duke’s daughter is the only survivor of a magical curse.
When Ekata’s brother is finally named heir, there will be nothing to keep her at home in Kylma Above with her murderous family. Not her books or science experiments, not her family’s icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness.
In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother’s warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her own ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love…or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family’s power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield it.
In all honesty, when I first started this YA book, the opening chapter completely overwhelmed me – so much happened and Bartlett introduces such a rich world that I completely thought I wouldnt be continuing with the book … but I pushed myself to not judge by an opening and trust that the author would fill me in on all the details – and she did.
I really enjoyed the characters in The Winter Duke, Ekata was a great protagonist who I did root for – her decisions were human – sometimes reckless and other times calculated which really built her as a solid character. I enjoyed her choosing of a wife although felt the relationship part of the marriage was timid and more hinted at than actions – understandable given their age (sixteen I believe). Bartlett also includes a non-binary character who is quite important to the plot at one point so it was great to see some solid diversity in that respect.
The world was fantastic – I loved the idea of an underwater community living below an ice palace. The relationship between the two worlds is one of agreement – an exchange for the magic that the underwater dwellers can grow – I just found this totally unique and it took me by surprise!
Goodreads has this down as ‘part Sleeping Beauty, part Anastasia’ but I’m not completely on board with that – I think The Winter Duke was much more original. Bartlett uses russian style names and she has a very in-depth political plot running throughout the novel which although I found a little confusing, it did make sense and I really appreciated the detail involved.
Also – that cover! The US cover is a little different – I much prefer the UK choice – it reminds me of fairytales and folklore which is perfect!