Set in the far future, what is left of humanity is separated into agrarian settlements protected by sentient artificial intelligences, and wilder human animal hybrids devoted to the hunt. Overseeing both groups and keeping the peace are the plague birds, powerful AIs that have bonded with their human hosts. They are feared by the people because of the violence with which they dispense judgement. A plague bird has a long, lonely, bloody life.
Wolf hybrid, Crista, has her own problems. Disabled after a brutal attack, and haunted by the memory of her mother’s death, she dreams of the ancient past when humanity used to travel the stars. Will she regret her longing for adventure when she is forced to become a plague bird?
I loved this book so much. It ticked all the boxes for me, as if the author had looked into my head and written my perfect book.
First of all, it defies easy genre allocation. It has lots of fantasy elements, like the small village set up and the adventure quest, but with a science fiction background to the world building that I love. The violence of the plague birds and some of the other people that Crista encounters is dark, dipping into horror territory. Perfect.
The plot is intricate, but beautifully paced out from the start and gathers together at the end with an immensely satisfying conclusion. It is multilayered and I found its depth appealed to me, providing an engaging reading experience on an intellectual, emotional and spiritual level.
The characters are great. At some stage in the thousands of years between our time and the time of the novel, humanity started augmenting the species with genes from other animals. Therefore there are no more original humans left, although the sentient AIs looking after the villages are trying to restore the human genome. Crista has wolf genes, and I love how this informed her character and her relationship with her plague bird AI, Red Day.
While Crista and Red Day are my favorites, the other characters are excellent as well. I love how each personality is so distinct.
The world building is excellent. There is a lot of depth to it and the history involved, and I found it very immersive and engrossing.
Last, but not least, the writing is beautiful. From the first page I felt as if the author took me by the hand and led me into the world. I knew I was in safe hands and I enjoyed every second of the journey.
This is my new favorite read of the year. I wish I had written this book. I look forward to discovering the author’s short fiction. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
I award Plague Birds…
Plague Birds is available for $6.88 ebook and $16.95 print book on Amazon.
Thank to the author and publisher for providing me with an arc and I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.