Saig had always lived on the edge of acceptance. Unlike a proper daughter of the head family, she longed for the freedom of the open woods over the confinement of her home. It was enough to drive away the two people who should, by rights, have been her closest companions.
But her perfect, responsible cousin Auris--destined to be the city's headwoman and resentful of Saig's inability to conform--would never be her friend again.
And her surly cousin Trei--aware of how his foreign ancestry undermined his own standing in society--would always look at her as a reminder of their shared differences.
Until a series of mysterious disappearances forces all three of the cousins onto the same side. Driven to protect their city and prove themselves, they join the effort to hunt down the perpetrators. What they find is a trap designed to bring their society crashing down, and the power to reshape their city's future. There's just one problem--the three of them have always bitterly disagreed on what that future should look like.
Plot: Told through multiple perspectives, this ambitious novel is much heavier on characterization than plot. Following a series of mysterious disappearances, the protagonists seek to defend the city of Running Water from a barrage of seemingly related threats. While the plot is slow to gain momentum, this is mitigated by strong characterization and thorough world-building.
Prose: The author's prose style is strong, smoothly paced, and appropriate for the target audience. Dialogue is crisp, and the narration between different viewpoints is distinct.
Originality: Plot, setting, and characters are richly developed and unique. The multiple races residing in the city, and the conflicting political viewpoints of the primary characters, go a long way toward creating a complex society comprised of believable cultural factions.
Character Development: Possessing unique attributes and engaging internal conflicts, characters are the strength of this dynamic and imaginative fantasy. As they root out the plots against their city, and struggle to work together, their differences become starkly apparent. Ermakova enriches the story with moments of moving introspection and the evolution of complex relationships.
Date Submitted: June 24, 2018