Mars has a shadow, a mirror world torn from the chaos of an eons-old rivalry between gods and titans. An elite few protect this secret to preserve the peace. But when a girl comes along with the power to reunite Mars, worlds collide in cosmic war.
Halo Scot has quickly become one of my favorite authors, known for deeply intense stories featuring co-protagonists who are as equal as they are opposites, and for all the fireworks and the bloodshed and the lust, these stories have a heart and an earnestness about them that shines through.
The Heartbeat of a Million Dreams is no different. Though not nearly as disturbing as Scot's Rift Cycle series can be at times (though this story is by no means short on the violence and the bloodshed), hallmarks of Scot's writing are evident. Fortunately, they are all the best parts.
Slade is, for lack of a better word, the Chosen One. The only one who can fix the dystopian madness, and Koa begins as the person responsible for making sure Slade realizes her destiny. It's much more complex than that, but that's the spoiler-free gist--and it's the backdrop for neurodivergent representation and LGBT representation and, most importantly, memorable, dynamic, and emotionally available characters.
More than anything, though, Heartbeat is the purest distillation of Scot's writing. It's urgent, intense. In your face. Scot has a lot of things to say, and they need to be said right fucking now, dammit and that urge, that necessity of message, is present in everything Scot writes.
That urgency, that intensity, is addictive, and it's why the pages so often fly by. The Heartbeat of a Million Dreams is Scot's best work, even if it's not quite the mind-fuck one might expect. This is a must-read, another classic from Scot's library, and anyone with even the faintest interest in spec fic or superheroes or Chosen Ones should not miss this classic.
Halo Scot has a way with words. And THOMD is no exception. Similar in tone to the rift cycle series, with a little more hopeful ring. (But not too much). You’ll love Slade Hawk, neurodiverent, special, described as angular. She’s a character whose fate can land on either side of the coin. Saying too much more will give it away! Buckle up. It’s fast paced, high action, bloody fun, just as you’d expect from Halo! Five black hearts!
Slade Hawk is hunted for what she is, what she represents, but she isn’t sure what that is. Forced to live on the streets and run for her life at every turn, hers is a desperate existence.
Koa is the leader of the rebellion, a group dedicated to freeing the starchildren of Mars from Earth’s tyranny. Her group needs Slade, but Koa is hesitant; Slade’s life has been a trial from the start, and she doesn’t want to make it any worse.
This is a story that is full of both action and emotion. It will keep you on the edge of your seat and force you to keep reading until the pages are no more. The conflict and world-building were incredible. And I have to say, it’s always nice to find a happy ending after a couple characters go through absolute hell. This was one phenomenal story, and the writing is stellar.
I recommend this book for fans of science fiction and fantasy.
I loved Halo Scot’s Rift Cycle series, and The Heartbeat of a Million Dreams packs the same type of amazing punch in the package of a short novel. There are many fun characters in this book, but it primarily centers on Koa and Slade, two strong women with noble objectives and unique powers. Halo Scot’s skills as a writer are evident as she switches points of view. Each voice is distinct, and the transitions between speakers are smooth.
In terms of world building, The Heartbeat of a Million Dreams is set on Mars, where people have settled. Much like The Expanse universe, there is a rivalry between Earth and Mars in this book. That said, Halo Scot’s universe isn’t derivative of The Expanse in the slightest. I see future people forming tribal alliances based on planets instead of countries, etc.
For me, the most compelling element of this story is its characters. I loved Koa and Slade, and I rooted for them throughout the pages. What a ride of action and emotion. I was touched, so touched.
If you love scifi and fantasy, I highly recommend this book.
Now, hand on heart I don’t know if this is what Halo Scot, the author, intended me to get out of this novella. I’m just going to tell you what it made me think about.
But, just to say before I start… I really adored this book. I mean REALLY adored it.
I read the first of Scot’s RIFT CYCLE books last year and thought it was sublime. A gorgeously crafted piece of terrifyingly dark, yet beautiful art as story. I quickly bought the rest of the series.
When I heard she’d released a novella, my fingers danced over the purchase button and a couple of days later it was in my grubby hands for my devouring.
I’m not going to go into any spoilers here. Suffice to say the story flip flops between Slade and Koa (a writing technique that was familiar to me from Edge of the Breach, the first of her RIFT CYCLE books) and tells the tale from both of their viewpoints.
You can read the synopsis on this page to get the gist of what it’s about, but be prepared for trippy Martian shenanigans.
Okay, so back to my initial thought. What this book made me think about. Or feel, is probably more accurate. Again, these are my thoughts, if this is what Halo Scot was going for, I have no idea!
Slade, is a metaphor for anyone who looks at themselves in the mirror and sees someone else. I know I personally beat myself constantly with the ‘imposter syndrome’ stick. Always in the back of my mind is a metronome steady beat of self criticism almost to the point of loathing.
To paraphrase Slade - too broken, too damaged, too much.
But (okay teeny spoiler!) Slade is a being of two sides. Light and dark. Sun and shadow. Something all of us have inside ourselves. Everyone is capable of greatness, it just needs someone to see it in us. To believe it.
The book weighs in at less than 160 pages (the paperback that is), but it’s depth is astonishing. It took me a while to read it, partly due to a busy life, but also because I read it slowly and painstakingly. Devouring every word. Now, some books I’ve picked up and not been able to put down. This wasn’t one of them. Which may sound odd (and negative!) but it’s not!
I sometimes found myself reading a few chapters and then NEEDING to put the book down so I could think about what I’d read. I even sometimes went back and reread chapters, which I never do! Lol
Maybe it’s just me, and this is just my humble opinion after all, but THE HEARTBEAT OF A MILLION DREAMS just got under my skin in a way books rarely do.
It’s hard to explain, and I’d wager this is probably the most incoherent rambling review you’ve ever read. But there it is!!!
I can’t recommend this book enough.
Slade was born a terror and narrowly survived a murder attempt as an infant. A kind doctor kept her alive at substantial personal risk to herself.
As an adult, Slade is damaged but powerful-fierce, but hypersensitive-alone, but known to all. She lives in the shadows and frequently is forced to fight for her life with those who hunt her. For she is a highly prized villain and prey. The very utterance of her name is sets off alarms and brings immediate scrutiny.
But Slade might have an ally, if she can bring herself to trust. This is a mesmerizing and entertaining tale of light and dark, evil and good, love and hate, told with finesse and flair by the talented Halo Scot! Don’t miss it!
WOW! Author Halo Scot has done it again, creating a beautifully captivating novel rich in prose and astounding world-building, with profound empathy underpinning each point of view. Scot is an incredible magician, melting my heart with each written word, layer by layer, page after page.
The Heartbeat of a Million Dreams is an epic, mesmerizing, otherworldly exquisite story, with each chapter a brilliant masterstroke! As you star shift through the adventures of Slade and Koa, their stories will seize your soul, softening every emotion as you navigate their journey.
This page-turner transports the reader through the most compellingly written literature, providing astonishingly resilient arcs that will leave imprints on your heart space.
I'm a huge fan of Halo Scott's writing as her messages are powerful, resonant, inspiring, and will enthrall every delicious sensation. This dark science fiction fantasy, as well as the Rift Cycle Series, is highly recommended for everyone. You will not be the same after reading these magical books!!!
The Heartbeat of a Million Dreams is as powerful a story as its name suggests.
Scot writes with an evocative power that I have rarely found in any other authors. The book is too much, too close, and yet somehow perfect.
The rawness of the emotions and the gritty, get inside the characters head way that Scot paints the plot makes for a unique story telling journey that I didn’t want to put down.
This is a tale of humanity on Mars, a girl hunted for her power, of fear, of love, and most importantly, of hope. Scot has once again crafted a masterpiece of words that was as thought provoking as it was unique.
Scot was already one of my favorite authors but this new book once again showcases how talented they are and made me fall in love with their writing all over again.
Halo writes in a way that the reader feels, learns, breaks, heals, and grows with the characters in her stories. They are flawed to a point that most would see them as broken, but Halo writes them in a way that makes them stunningly beautiful. They represent so many of the “unseen” and show the power, grace, and immense love/passion they hold, often held close to their heart for fear of wounding of one sort or another.
My heart broke for Slade Hawk time and again, then I found it breaking for Koa, even as I sat, face glued to the screen, rooting for them to triumph with every fiber of my being.
A bit lighter than the Rift Cycle series, this one is filled with the intense emotion, but served in a way that even more people can fall in love with these gorgeous characters.
Halo is one of my absolute favorite authors and I recommend this and all of her books. They’re a wild ride, and some of the most powerfully-written, stunningly descriptive books I’ve read in a very long time.
The Heartbeat of a Million Dreams is an outstanding work of world building and Slade Hawk is a phenomenal damaged hero. The world-building here is fantastic and, despite the story moving at an electrifying pace, we're enveloped in a complex world packed with a rich backstory with differing factions, and a rounded cast of characters who have reasons behind their actions - Halo Scot doesn't do 2-dimensional characters! Slade is someone who will stick with me for a long time and the author has a talent for crafting broken characters that reflect the 'aloneness' that we can all identify with in our own different ways. I loved this and have read it twice, which I can't often say about a book!
The Dark Fantasy Sci-Fi genre has gained another stellar offering. While compact in comparison to the installments of the Rift Cycle, THOMD offers no less weight or achievement. The stakes are high and the plot erupts from the beginning. True to the genre and kicking in the door of the Space Opera niche, it packs plenty of conflict, action, and even romance that find balance over the bedrock of a gritty and provocative fantasy.
The Red Planet is fracturing and a reluctant hero is called the save the society that detests her. As always, Scot’s world-building is right on point and provides just enough license to let the reader’s mind wander. Blade Runner in a dust storm comes to mind.
Beneath the guilty pleasure of a well-written dark fantasy, at its core, self-discovery, acceptance, and devotion drive this story as hope, even in the darkest of places, is the flicker that can change everything. I highly recommend this book and can’t wait to see where Halo Scot takes us next.