I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinons.
Genre: Sci-Fi Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 4 stars Series: yes - first book in duology
When Eris faked her death, she thought she had left her old life as the heir to the galaxy’s most ruthless empire behind. But her recruitment by the Novantaen Resistance, an organization opposed to the empire’s voracious expansion, throws her right back into the fray.
Eris has been assigned a new mission: to infiltrate a spaceship ferrying deadly cargo and return the intelligence gathered to the Resistance. But her partner for the mission, mechanic and hotshot pilot Cloelia, bears an old grudge against Eris, making an already difficult infiltration even more complicated.
When they find the ship, they discover more than they bargained for: three fugitives with firsthand knowledge of the corrupt empire’s inner workings.
Together, these women possess the knowledge and capabilities to bring the empire to its knees. But the clock is ticking: the new heir to the empire plans to disrupt a peace summit with the only remaining alien empire, ensuring the empire’s continued expansion. If they can find a way to stop him, they will save the galaxy. If they can’t, millions may die.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
I’m going to apologise in advance for how long winded, rambling, and downbeat this review is. I read this book in the middle of waiting for bad news, mostly as a distraction. The book was good, and helped me get away, and I think I might have liked it even more had I not been in that waiting-limbo.
However, it’s very hard to process my thoughts and write an upbeat review in this mindset, but I need to get it written. The longer I wait before writing a review, the harder it gets, and it’s even worse if there’s been another book read in between.
I’ll be honest, the first time I heard about this book, I dismissed it. At that point, it only had the US cover, and it’s awful. It looks like a ’80s straight-to-VHS movie, with colours and composition I hate. The UK one isn’t much better – it’s very generic – but it at least looks like a modern sci-fi book. I know everyone says we shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but the whole point of covers is that they entice us into picking it up, and I almost didn’t with this one as it looked so generic.
However, I am really glad I did request this ARC (in the middle of a NetGalley spree more as an after thought) as I really enjoyed it.
It’s quite a slow read, taking me most of a full day to read it. I’m not quite sure why – on the surface it feels like it should be very action packed. It’s not slow in a bad way, more a richly-written way.
My favourite part was the exploration of brainwashing and how conditioning can remain even after people are “free”. We see this in the soldiers who have their implants removed (the whole oracle conditioning is frankly horribly 1984 level of manipulation taken up a notch to neural reconfiguration and *shudders*) and how part of Eris seeks the approval of those who have abused her.
It’s a big world, not flashy and glamorous (the settings that are more glam are shown to have a rotten core), but very dirt. I could feel the oil and grime of the spaceships, could see the different climates and worlds they visited. I could have gladly spent more time exploring with them.
Despite all the alien technology and far-future world, it didn’t feel like a techno-babble world without care for the laws of physics. I could more or less follow it all, and didn’t have to suspend my disbelief too much. The only comment I do have on the world building was that I wasn’t quite sure exactly what the One was or how it was related to the Oracle.
I really appreciated that we knew about Eris’ identity almost from the get go (like 4 chapters in?). It meant that the consequences of that and her backstory could be really dug into, rather than it being sprung as a big reveal.
This is a book that has a lot of chapters in the past, which dig into the characters’ motivations and experiences. Eris, being the main character, gets the most time – her twisted relationship with her brothers and father.
Clo’s dialect is the best, voiciest part of the characters. I could tell her apart immediately from everyone else. The others’ voices ran together a bit, but not hers, and her slang made me chuckle.
This is shelved under YA on Goodreads. It’s not – of the five POV characters, only one is under 23. The (UK) publisher lists it as adult. Do I somewhat suspect this is people automatically calling it YA (and thus influencing Goodreads’ matrix) because the authors are women? YES.
The title doesn’t really fit, in my opinion. With a title like that, given the blurb, I’d been expecting seven POV characters, instead I got five. Two were the primary characters, taking more than half the page time between then – if not two thirds – and the other three were secondary. One of the three smaller POVs took a long while to feel necessary.
So why the title? “Seven Devils” is a swear used in the book, and then at the very end, they look around the team (plus two extras) and go “yeah, we should be called the Seven Devils”. One of the seven has a very minor role, and the other non-POV is a late edition.
The book doesn’t quite have the massive cliff hanger ending typical of a duology, as there’s space for a slight resolution. However, it’s very much a “things have gone badly” ending that makes me want to read the next book.
Read my reviews of other books by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May:
Seven Devils (this series):
- SEVEN MERCIES (#2)
By Laura Lam: