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[personal profile] jacey

Hidden SunJaine Fenn has a gift for building unusual and fascinating worlds. The pockets of shadowland are protected from the deadly sun and exist as autonomous city states. Between the city states the skylands are deadly. Exposure to solar radiation is lethal for non-adapted humans. Only the skykin – bonded with a symbiote – can survive there, and even then everything about it (the lands and the wildlife it harbours) is deadly.

Rhia is a noble of Shen, one of the Shadowlands. She's a Natural Enquirer, the closest thing to a scientist Shen has, but it's not a seemly task for a woman. Her feckless younger brother is missing, reportedly having crossed the skylands to another shadowland, and a girl has been brutally murdered. Is there a connection? Rhia hopes not, yet when the Duke sends three soldiers to escort him home she feels compelled to join the party.

Dej is destined to be a bonded skykin, but we first meet her in a shadowland crèche where she's a little troublemaker. Imperfectly bonded to her symbiote, she's no better off in the skylands, ending up clanless. Meanwhile a priest is carrying out illicit experiments with recovered skykin symbiotes, seeking the secret of immortality. Viewpoint shifts between these three complex characters, but it isn't until the last third of the book that the Dej and Rhia strands mesh. The story resolves, but there are still many unanswered questions about the world that Ms. Fenn will hopefully answer in the next book. Highly recommended.
(Reviewed as a ARC from Netgalley.)
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