This review and others are posted at Inspiring Insomnia.
I have not yet read For Darkness Shows the Stars, the first book in this series, but since Across a Star-Swept Sea was described as a companion novel rather than a sequel, I decided to dive in. Perhaps this resulted in some details that I didn’t fully appreciate, but I never felt lost. A big factor in this was that there was a great deal of repetition, particularly around the genetic engineering elements of the plot. Although I didn’t love this story, I still want to read the first book to see if and how it fleshes out more of the back-story of how this world came to be.
The author created a post-apocalyptic world that seemed more like a fantasy setting. After a series of wars destroyed most of the planet, only a small amount of habitable land exists. Two remaining countries are struggling to exist in peace as the “Regs” of society begin to rebel against the ruling aristocracy. Lady Persis Blake of Albion, in disguise as her Wild Poppy persona, is helping to stir up tensions as she conducts raids on Galatea to rescue the endangered aristocrats.
When Justen Helo, a medic from Galatea, arrives in Albion, Persis is not sure if he can be trusted. Justen claims to want to aid the aristocracy, but his involvement with the brain-damaging genetic engineering makes Persis question his true motives. Likewise, Persis’s motivations remain a mystery from Justen, as he has no idea that she is the Wild Poppy who has been raiding his country.
It’s a given that these two will get together, but the reasons for their attraction to each other is never made clear. Justen is enthralled by Persis’s…hair, and she is intrigued by his famous family name. For most of the book, that’s all we have to go on. They were likable as individuals (Justen, in particular), but a total dud as a couple. I was much more interested in the characters who made an appearance late in the story, as I knew that they had to be the main characters from For Darkness Shows the Stars. My interest perked up while they were on the scene, and I’m looking forward to seeing the details of what brought them to Albion.