Orbit, out 30th June 2016
A tale of murder, magic and revenge. And pirates.
Hope and Red (Empire of Storms) by Jon Skovron is the first in a new series from Orbit Books; and it’s off to a rip-roaring start.
A young child sees her whole village slaughtered by the Imperial Biomancers, and swears revenge – taken in and trained by the head of an order of Vinchin warrior monks, she is renamed Bleak Hope, after her village.
Orphaned as a young boy and taken in by a pirate, Sadie, Red (so named because his eyes bear witness to his mother’s drug addiction) has survived on his wits, thieving and conniving in a bid to control his life and gain whatever small measure of power he can.
When Hope and Red meet in the ramshackle New Laven, they uncover an alliance between Drem – the criminal boss of New Laven – and the biomancers. They join forces in an attempt to overthrow the biomancers and allow Hope to seek revenge on the biomancer who killed her village.
Already known as a YA author, Jon Skovron has drawn a vivid tale of piracy and magic, with loss and revenge at its heart. The characters of Hope and Red leap off the page, as do the supporting characters (pirate Sadie and Red’s pal Filler to name but two). The story starts with Hope’s loss, and the child’s desolation is clear to all. As the two threads develop and then weave together in a race to Hope and Red’s battle with the biomancers, we see the pair forge a strong friendship that threatens to tip into love, and we sympathise with their losses and their hopes for a future free of fear. Hope and Red is a strong beginning for the trilogy, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.
Verdict: A rip-roaring tale of revenge. 9/10