Friday, May 29, 2015

House Immortal by Devon Monk

 I'm not sure what to think of this start to a new series. On the one hand, Devon Monk always writes some pretty good fiction. On the other, I didn't really get hooked on any of the characters enough to make me care what happens to them, though some of the ideas Monk explores in this book were just good enough that I finished it, and may pick up the sequel at the library.

On a steampunk-ish future Earth control of all resources has been distributed between twelve Houses (Why does it have to be twelve? Is that a genre specified number?)  Those who do not belong to one of the major 11 houses, who are trying to remain independent are part of House Brown, and are constantly under threat of being wiped out by the other houses.

A couple of centuries before this series begins, there was a group of people who were subjected to some supernatural event called The Wings of Mercury, which killed nearly the entire population, except for twelve "immortals", who seem to be indestructible. After a war in the recent past, when House Brown came into being, the immortals all took service with the houses, bound into essential slavery in exchange for the rest of the houses allowing the rebels of House Brown to survive.

The protagonist in this little tale, Matilda, may turn out to be the thirteenth immortal. She was created, it seems, by her brother, who is a genius in the art of stitching living beings together (there seems to be some overlap with ideas from Monk's other steampunk series). Her father and mother were both killed by House White for illegal medical experimentation, but so far the houses have found her brother useful. At present, however, he is being held captive by Orange in a plot to give the head of Orange immortality. When one of the immortals from House Silver shows up on the scene, badly wounded, it triggers a series of events that will draw Matilda into deeper conflict and entangle her in the inter-House plotting and jostling for power.

One good little exchange of dialog,
"Feng Shui."
"Is it contagious?"
"Hardly anyone gets it."

The jury is still out. I'll put the second book on hold at the library and see if it goes anywhere fun.

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