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BOOK REVIEW : A TOUCH OF DEATH ( THE OUTLANDS PENTALOGY) BY REBECCA CRUNDEN

TITLE : A Touch of Death

AUTHOR : Rebecca Crunden

GENRE : Fantasy, Science Fiction/Dystopia

FBRC RATING : 4.5 Stars

SYNOPSIS :

A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favourite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears.

A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future, but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him.

Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids. 

FBRC REVIEW :

DISCLAIMER : I received an ARC of this book from the author Rebecca Crunden in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Rebecca for sending me the review copy of this book.

The book is set in the Kingdom of Cutta, ruled by King Franklin. He unified ten countries after the war between Humans and mutants. Now the remaining humans have taken back the earth with the 10 countries unified and governed under the rule of King Franklin. The government is totalitarian, there is a corrupt Ruling Family, the upper-class people enjoying luxury and privilege while the lower classes are left to die in neighboring countries. People who are rich have all the wealth and access to everything they need, while people from other countries have to slave and work to even access the bare minimum. There is only one language and one religion and people are ordered to submit and serve the Crown without question. Freedom and history are no more. They are eradicated. If anyone dissents against the Crown they are killed or sometimes thrown in prison where they await fate worse than death. Mutants and rabids are equally hated and feared. The different species, evolution of earth after the war, plague and how the world settled are all very much fascinating.

The story, the setting, the world-building, and the characters were all great. I loved how the author created the dystopian world which was in a lot of ways reflective of our own socity and the world. The post-apocalyptic society is very interesting with new technologies, diseases, and epidemics that took the humans out. The struggles to keep the human population alive and our need as humans to succeed at any cost, regardless of the destruction it causes on other life forms. The barbaric experiments that were done on Mutants and dissenting citizens to find cure for diseases, the authoritarian ruler who forces the people of the nation to be complemented with one another to keep the human population going all added to the world so well. The technologies and the use of medicine are quite intriguing. I loved the story of Talonites and how the author has managed to bring in religion and politics together in the story and was very much reflective of our society. 

Rebecca Crunden has a map of Kingdom of Cutta on her website, that shows us the different nations unified underneath it and it looks great. I’ll link it down below and you guys can check it out.

A MAP FOR THE OUTLANDS PENTALOGY

The story is mainly focused on the two main characters Nate and Catherine. The book is told from Catherine’s perspective. We see them from the beginning stumbling through the dark paths in a neighboring country and how they get into a lot of trouble throughout their journey. Nate is carefree, wild and reckless. Catherine is very much the opposite of Nate and hates him for upending her life and dreams because of his selfishness. Catherine is used to her comfort and her privileged life. She finds it hard to make sense of the disruptions caused by Nate, but eventually starts questioning everything she was ever told. She sees the horrific regime for what it is and the cruelty the Crown had inflicted on not just the citizens but also on Mutants. We see them struggling, fighting and somehow still holding on to each other helping one another despite the differences in their ideals.

The way the story is told made me think of our own society and how dysfunctional it is at times. The harm humans have done to other organisms, nature all in the name of progress and development. The book gives us glimpses into the dark times, the cruelty and unfairness of the rulers towards their own people. The way the characters, the story and the world all come together effortlessly and seamlessly makes it great. I loved how Rebecca has managed to bring the story forward with an interesting world and an engaging reading experience. The stakes are high and keep you hooked till you finish it.

My only problem with the book was how some of the details from the beginning were just laid out there without much of an explanation and the number of times Nate called Catherine, darling. The endearment was, in my opinion, a little overused but overall their interactions showed us the tumultuous relationship they had with one another. I would love to see more of the backstory of Nate and how he managed to get out of prison. Thom seems to be an interesting character but had less time in the book. We hear about their special bond and we don’t get to see much of their story or how their relationship was in childhood to adulthood, etc. The way things are and the reasons for it are referenced but we don’t get all the details and so I had to accept it for what it was. The book was straight to the point and detailed enough to get drawn to the story and the world. I personally, love to know more of their history and background, find out more about the different characters and their dynamics. The science part of the book also was fascinating and was curious to read more about it.

But overall I am very curious to see how Catherine will fare in her new environment and what she is willing to sacrifice to keep the people she cares about safe. The end was definitely interesting and makes me want to pick up the second book soon. I am hoping we get to learn more about some of the species mentioned in the story and also learn more about their history. The world-building is great and solid with so much scope to expand on it and hopefully, we get more of our other characters in the book. I highly recommend checking this book out. It is engaging and entertaining. It is a solid start to the very promising series.

I gave the book 4.5 stars and I am hoping to pick up the second one soon. I really hope we get more of the interesting world-building, cool technology, the history of the different countries and so much more adventure from our characters in the coming books. I highly recommend checking this book out. If you are interested I’ll link the rest of the books in this series down below.

Here are the rest of her books in this series.

2. A History Of Madness

3. A Promise Of Return

4. A Dance Of Lies

5. A Time Of Prophecy

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