Blackthorn by Terry Tyler
Publication Date: November 25th 2019
Genre: Post Apocalyptic / Dystopia / Speculative Fiction
The UK, year 2139
One hundred and fifteen years ago, a mysterious virus wiped out ninety-five per cent of humanity.
Blackthorn, the largest settlement in England, rose from the ashes of the devastated old world. It is a troubled city, where the workers live in crude shacks, and make do with the worst of everything.
It is a city of violent divisions, crime, and an over-populated jail block―until a charismatic traveller has a miraculous vision and promises to bring hope back to the people’s lives.
Blackthorn falls under Ryder Swift’s spell, and the most devoted of all is the governor’s loyal servant, Lieutenant August Hemsley.
Twenty-one-year-old Evie has lived her whole life in the shacks. She and disillusioned guard Byron Lewis are two of a minority who have doubts about Ryder’s message. Can they stand against the beliefs of an entire city?
*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the author via Shannon @R&R Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to author and Shannon. ***
Blackthorn was post-apocalyptic dystopia set in 2139, revolved around Blackthorn- a largest settlement in England, people in the city, their life under an oppressive ruler and how it changed with arrival of a charming traveler with his story of The Light. It was about politics and control, faith and belief vs cynicism and logic, communism, manipulations for personal gain, and fighting for loved ones.
This book brilliant. Writing was wonderful. It was gripping and flawless with serious and controversial subject. Setting, world, characters and lifestyle was intriguing and well described. Multiple narration from Evie, Byron and Hemsley worked well here. All three were working on different level in Blackthorn and they all had different life and view point.
It started with Helmsley giving an overview on situation in Blackthorn that was on verge of uprising, Evie telling about her life and how people living in shack were waiting for arrival of popular charismatic traveler, Ryder, how they all felt good in his presence, how he helped solving their problems, and Byron telling about his life so far and what he thought about Blackthorn and other guards and lieutenants.
This time when Ryder returned, something strange happened to him. He told about experiencing God, how he felt his presence and how he was chosen to deliver God’s message. He called the God ‘The Light’, told people to let light enter in their dark life, live peacefully and be kind to each other. The way he said all these, people- one by one and over short period of time- fell into his spell, they believed it and started living under his guidance. All but two were skeptic about it, Evie and Byron. They kept thinking what Ryder’s motive was and if he was telling truth. They didn’t accept Light nor oppose it openly but they were forced to do something about it when persons they cared about fell victim to it.
What will they do to save those they cared about? Can they stand against whole community and even the governor who also believed in this Light or they have to leave the community they lived in all their life and go out on road that is even more dangerous?
There was so much to grasp in first few chapters. I didn’t know this was part of series Project Renova until I read Author’s note at the end. It worked perfectly as a standalone. There was enough information about world from previous books.
World was amazing. This is first time I read a story that was futuristic but destruction and wipe out of population was so vast that people were living without technology, vehicle or any scientific advancement. Not even electricity or water supply through pipes. I didn’t even see a gun, which was more shocking. Electricity and proper bathroom was there but only for elite class not for poor or lower middle class. Let’s just say in 2139 people were living like 1739. And moreover people didn’t believe in God or any religion (not until Ryder’s experience). They lived in small communities and there were only few big communities like Blackthorn that provided shelter to people which were ruled by governor.
Even the city was presented wonderfully. There were levels in Blackthorn according to class and occupations which was wonderfully narrated in Evie’s voice. Discrimination and unfairness towards lower class and women made the world even more sad and sorry.
All characters were interesting. Even villain. I loved Evie and Byron most. Evie was strong and developed character. She didn’t like her life in Blackthorn in general, but she had family, a job as backer that provided her food and shelter. She didn’t have anything to complain about but life was hard especially for her friend from lower level for whom she was willing to take risk. She was kind, compassionate, and smart girl with brain and logic. Her questions and doubt regarding God, faith and Light was logical. She could see through the deception and pretty words.
Byron was a guard. He had strong ethics and view point. He liked keeping himself to himself and doing his duty but was not subservient. He was a free spirit who loved roaming outside walls and craved independence. He didn’t care about anything except few people he called friends. I liked how his life took shape and direction once he found a person he cared about and all this light thing started.
He fancied Evie but was hesitant and was not sure if she would reciprocate his feelings. He and Evie made perfect pair in the book. I liked how slowly but strongly their friendship and relationship developed. Romance was not most important part of the story but I liked it.
Lieutenant August Hemsley was subservient to governor, Wolf North. He had blind faith in him. He never believed in rumors about Wolf, never voiced against wrong nor had his opinion. He thought he has earned his respect by doing his duty, he believed in what his mother said to him- “he was born to serve” until he could no longer turn blind eye. His development was tremendous. We see a different side of him when he came face to face with truth. It shattered his illusion and his faith and did right thing in the end.
“Looks are deceptive.” “There is more than you can see.” “I respect faith but doubt is what gets you an education.” All these saying were so apt here. The ultimate message was, you don’t need entity, or religion or fear of heaven and hell to be kind, compassionate, and caring towards others. It comes from within. It’s a simple logic, if you be nice, listen to others, broaden perspective, discuss problems and find a solution, there will be order in any community. One doesn’t need faith and false hope to cling to get this. If you read this book you get the idea how much it was manipulated and tyrannical.
I could see where things were going most of the time and it was easy to guess how this will end yet author had surprise cards at climax and near end. Climax was at around 65% of the book with a shocking revelation. I guessed the truth about Light but not what Hemsley found out at this point. The story from here was most exciting and thrilling. When they decided to get justice and make things better for people of Blackthorn I could predict what might happen, I knew if they could get away with it or not. It was the result of their plan that was so uncertain and unpredictable which we know about in last 10% of the book. It was most shocking.
I enjoyed all chapters between climax and end. It was filled with hope, sadness, new learning, discovering real happiness, and tragedy. The end was perfect, I wish things were different.
Overall it was mind blowing, intriguing and thought-provoking post-apocalyptic dystopia that I recommend to fans of this genre.
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