To read an interview with Stormy, please see the January issue of Uncaged Book Reviews.
A January Top Read.
Stormy Corrin Russell
In a world where men and women live on separate sides of a massive wall, seventeen-year-old misfit Eroyn Fairchild has always been too busy with her broken family to wonder why they live the way they do.
When a man from the other side breaks through, Ero holds him hostage, hoping for a ransom large enough to pay for her Elder Grace’s treatment. Things get more complicated as the man is followed by two others who make Ero question everything she’s ever known about her life.
As Ero searches for the truth, the lines between right and wrong blur, leaving her to choose between saving her city and saving herself.
One of the things I love about Grace is that she is the heaviest sleeper I know. So heavy, in fact, she doesn’t hear me dragging a thrashing body through the front door at two in the morning. For the first time in my life, I consider it lucky that we live on the outskirts of the north side. If we didn’t, I would never have been able to get it this far without attracting attention. A loud, confused sound starts to come from the net, so I kick it firmly.
“Shut up,” I hiss, looking around nervously. I’m not worried about Grace rousing, but I don’t want the neighbors waking up and noticing my noisy cargo. I kick twice more, as hard as I can. Silence, finally. With a sigh, I wipe my arm across my forehead, getting rid of the sweat beading there. I sink down on the couch, staring at the large lump inside the net on my living room floor unblinkingly. Little red flowers are blooming all over the heavy white plastic, and they grow quickly. It’s blood, I realize with a sick feeling. It’s seeping through from the inside and leaking onto the clean white carpet of our house. It can’t be real. It just can’t be.
I see Almond cut across the room and sniff at the lump with caution. With one movement, I scoop him up and press him to my chest in horror. For the first time, I realize the danger of what I’ve just done. I’ve invited a monster into my house.
I’ve made a horrible, horrible mistake.
It takes Luna ten minutes to get here five minutes faster than usual but it feels like hours. She lets herself in the back door quietly, but I rush into the kitchen to meet her.
“Where’s Grace?” she asks with urgency, dropping her medical bag on the kitchen table.
“What? No, I … this isn’t about Grace,” I stutter. I open my mouth once, then again, but it’s no use. Nothing is coming out, so I turn on my heel and tiptoe into the living room. Luna wordlessly follows, eyeing the netted form. I kneel next to it, holding my breath. With shaking hands, I slide the knife into the plastic and pull it upwards slowly. I know what it’s going to reveal when I pull the plastic away, but it still makes my breath leave my lungs in an audible whoosh. I can’t seem to inhale again once it’s gone. I hear Luna do the same next to me.
“Is it a…?” She leaves her sentence unfinished, and I nod. The small slit I cut in the plastic shows a thick arm under a rolled-up shirt, far too thin for our recently nasty winter. At the very end of the slit, I glimpse a swollen throat and a jaw covered in a dark shadow of hair. A chill runs down my spine and my stomach turns.
“Is he alive?” Luna asks, her voice small.
“I … I think so.” I stare at the floor guiltily. “I kicked him pretty hard to shut him up.” She scoots closer and with trembling fingers folds back the plastic to see his side, where most of the blood is coming from.
“Cut the rest of it off him,” she tells me quietly. I stare at her in shock.
“But, he––” She cuts me off with a look.
“He isn’t dead yet, but he will be if I don’t stop the blood loss.”
I swallow hard, and comply.
Uncaged Review: After a Gender War, this dystopian world has the women living apart in their own separate quadrant, known as Genesis. They are taught that they won the war, and the men are gene mutations and live outside the walls. In this world, Elders choose Youth to be their caretakers, and when the Elder finally passes on, the Youth that has been taking care of them, inherits what is left for them from their Elder. This gives them a small nest egg so they can eventually hire on their own Youth, and the cycle begins all over again. This story starts out with Eroyn, who is a Youth for Grace, a woman that remembers what it was like before the wars, but is in the late stages of dementia.
This is a very original story, and it had me hooked. Eroyn discovers she has a brother, whom she never knew, and that the women have been taught lies for decades. Her best friend Luna and her begin to unravel the truth, after Ero’s brother, best friend and another man are caught by them and begin to explain what really happened. You don’t really know how the war began, or the main nuances as to why the world is like it is, but some of the truth begins to unravel in this installment.
I’m not going to give away more, but this is not a book that really hooked me from the go, it crept up on me slowly, and by the time I was to the middle, I was completely invested. The writing is terrific, with nice world building and character development. The idea that emotion and love breaks through the decades of suppression, is uplifting. Even though the book ends on a mild cliffhanger, it ends where it probably should end for this one, and I’ll look forward to the next one.
Reviewed by Cyrene