Keri Arthur knows how to create an interesting world. Every series I have read from her has had a unique feel and this first installment of her Outcast books does not disappoint. It’s a fascinating blend of vampires, shifters, ghosts and magic in a world ravaged by war and temporal rifts. The elements may not sound all that unusual, but this isn’t so much Urban Fantasy as a paranormal/sci-fi/ futuristic journey, led by an unlikely heroine, starved for contact with the living.
Tiger is a duchet, a genetic hybrid created by humans to help them fight shifters in a great war a century ago. She is the last of her kind, her people slaughtered to extinction. Now she lives in the remains of an old bunker, with only the ghosts of the other duchets for company. She forages for food and parts to keep her home running, but she must stay hidden. If anyone figures out what she is, it will be an automatic death sentence.
That makes it all the more of a sacrifice when she ventures into the dark to answer the call of a crying child. She risks her life at the hands of the vampires targeting the child, but even more, when she realizes she must also save the injured shifter along with the little girl. The rescue is a success, but it turns out to be only the beginning as Tiger is pulled into the mystery of other disappearing children and she is forced to work with the very kind of beings who annihilated her race.
It takes a while to absorb the set-up for this world, its many inhabitants, their histories and their districts. It made it hard to connect at the beginning, especially since so much time is spent with only Tiger, her ghosts, and her introspection. But in time, I started to like and understand Tiger. Her loyalty to her ghosts is unwavering; her morality and commitment to children drives her, even to her own peril. As with most of Arthur’s series, the sexual morays are a little more fluid than a simple H/h, but it made sense with Tiger’s genetic design.
There is plenty of action, especially in the second half, no small about of violence, and a bit of sex. It’s not a romance, though. That shifter I was talking about –Jonas, the guy traveling with the little girl– feels like he is going to be a romantic interest, but it’s not happening in this book. The only real relationship we see here is the one Tiger has with her child ghosts. It’s sweet, and it makes her who she is, even more perhaps than her unique genetics. But it’s not quite emotionally sustaining enough for me as a reader. I wanted to feel more deeply about what was happening, and for that, I need more connections. I feel like that is coming down the road for Tiger, but she’s not there yet.
The story has a definite ending, but it’s more like the end of a chapter than the end of the story. Tiger’s journey is just getting started. I’ll give the second book a try, because this series is interesting and I liked it for the most part. I just hope the next installment gets to be deeper on an emotional level, to really get me hooked.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
City of Light
by Keri Arthur
Release Date: January 5, 2016