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Costi Gurgu
Costi Gurgu, author

In the near future, in Europe, corporations have the legal right to sell people into slavery if they have outstanding debts and a special Police force implements that law. On a visit from America, BLAKE, an undercover cop affected by OCD and his wife ISA, witness firsthand an American family with two kids being taken into debt servitude. Blake meets SAMUEL BRIT, a known socialite with close ties to the BSX (British Servitude Exchange) and agrees to work for the English slavers. That is because he is on an undercover mission for the FBI, to find out about the American underground slavers and locate them. He can do that by using the English slavers' intelligence. A former American cop, NIGEL BLAKESLEY, working for LORD WRIGHT inside the British Servitude Exchange, discovers that Blake has met with Samuel Brit. And he wants to know why. He starts investigating Blake’s role in England. A year earlier, Blake entered a Police task force to discover who had dumped hundreds of bodies in common graves. Some of the dead people were known as the

In this gripping near-future dystopian thriller, Gurgu (RecipeArium) explores, with uncommon persuasive power, a potential outcome of what could happen if class systems became even more dangerously one-sided. After watching debt servitude become legal in England, Blake and Isabelle (Isa) Frye are determined to ensure it doesn’t happen in America—but they’re in a race against time after learning that a bill legalizing it is about to be passed by a Republican (and corporate) controlled Congress. When Blake, an NYPD detective, begins looking into whether debt servitude has actually already begun in America, he and Isa, a producer at the last truly journalistic news station, put together a small team to investigate and expose the man at the head of it all—but they quickly learn the hard way how connected he really is, and how deeply in danger they are.

Gurgu creates a deeply unsettling foreboding future of the haves and have-nots, of slave labor and mass graves, where the corporate elite have it all, and everyone else is owned by them—whether they know it yet or not. Missing one payment in any debt gives corporations the right to dehumanize entire families and sell them into any type of servitude, no matter how horrible or deadly.

Gurgu takes readers down a dark path that they will find uncomfortably believable, digging into how this future came about through smartly structured flashbacks, but he reserves hope by illustrating how everyday people can still change the future. Blake isn’t your average hero in taking-down-the-establishment stories; he is in fact very imperfect, struggling to keep his severe obsessive compulsive disorder from controlling his life, and when he’s forced out of his comfort zone to strategize before acting, he has to think on his feet to save those he loves—and himself. Gurgu adds twists and turns that will shock readers and keep them on the edge of their seats.

Takeaway: A disturbingly realistic dystopian future that will get under readers’ skin in all the best ways.

Great for fans of: Cynthia Kadohata’s In the Heart of the Valley of Love; Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Talents.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A