“NetGalley delivers digital galleys, often called advance reading copies, or ARCs, to professional readers and helps promote new and upcoming titles. Professional readers–reviewers, media, journalists, bloggers, librarians, booksellers and educators–can join and use NetGalley at no cost.” Netgalley is a special section of my book discussions where I post reviews of the digital books I read through this service. It’s quite amazing the gems you can find. I’ve yet to regret reading a book, even if I don’t like it…
A mysterious young man appears right when Zoe needs him most; X becomes her rescuer. A man claiming to know her recently dead father suddenly appears squatting at her elderly neighbors’ and threatens her and her brother’s lives. Zoe witnesses something no one else on earth ever has before: a bounty hunter from a hell called the Lowlands sent to claim this man’s soul lets him go because she asks him to. As Zoe and this young man, X, get to know one another she challenges what he knows about his life even as he reveals truths to Zoe she might very well wish never leave the darkness of the caves.
The world building starts from the setup and keeps opening up to us from there. And what fascinating world building it is. The Lowlands is a nasty place, but it has its rules and everyone follows them. As we start to see that X is something outside the rules we learn more and more about who he is and how he can escape. There is this reliance on prison life that works so well. You feel like their is familiarity to the world so you are not surprised by how things turn out but the world is also a unique take on that familiar world.
What I appreciated was not only the unique vision the author had for his world but also that he only revealed what was pertinent to the story. Some authors go on crazy tangents about their world because they went to a lot of work to create that world and they want to reader to know all about it, but it doesn’t pertain to the story! It ends up being info dumping that doesn’t add anything. X and his Lowlands is totally the opposite of that. When Zoe and his family want to know where X is from – that is when he tries to explain (and what a novelty that explanation turned out to be!) He mentions his friends but we don’t really learn about them until X is called on them to help him in the course of the plot. His tattoos are mentioned early on and their later explanation adds so much in its way. Details like this work, are quick and make sense.
Really the #1 thing this book has going for it is the world building! **I don’t go into X’s abilities or what the cool happenings are because those are the best parts of this book and I don’t want to ruin it for you. (You’re welcome!)
Don’t get me wrong – I loved X and liked Zoe, I especially loved the way they contrasted each other. X to me was spot on to someone who meets someone unexpected who causes them to examine their life in a new way – so he was totally believable even though the love was a bit instalove. Still considering the world they were never going to have a lot of time to get there… Zoe annoyed me a little because of her foolish choices and bull-headed insistence on her way, but at the same time she reminded me of a 17 year old. She wasn’t acting out of character.
This is ultimately a romance, so if that annoys you… I still highly suggest it! The premise really is a neat take on bounty hunters set in this unique world, but especially combined with Zoe’s angst over her father’s possible suicide / accidental death. Some might claim there is no plot but I totally disagree. We have Zoe’s dad’s death, X’s birth situation, plus the rock and the hard place their relationship puts the Lords of the Lowlands in. And it all works together for a satisfying read.
The characters really made this story work. From Jonah and their mom (who really loves her kids and tries her best flawed though she may be) to Banger (totally awesome scenes with him!) and Ripper, X’s Lowland friends to Dallas, Zoe’s ex-boyfriend (loved his scenes too!) Plus Regent the Lord on X’s side… have I intrigued you enough yet?
The end was perfect… not surprising it was a cliff hanger type of ending… but it was also satisfying in an unexpected way. I wasn’t sure Zoe had that end in her but I was happy to see that she did! All the characters came together in the best way… I look forward to the next book in the series!
BOTTOM LINE: What are you waiting for? Go get this book!!
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.