Piper Anderson thinks she’s alone in the world: she is forgotten and left to lose herself at Edgemont, a juvenile detention center seeking to jolt the humanity from its children, leaving them as emotionless - but obedient - shades of their former selves. All hope seems lost.
Until Kath, her godmother who mysteriously disappeared years before, returns to free her. Piper then learns the unimaginable - she is a child of two worlds. With an Earthly father and an Alterian mother, she is capable of wielding the Light of her soul, an ancient gift that is sacred to the Raelarian people. It’s not long after discovering her interstellar origins that Piper is faced with the impossible.
Valos, a shadow which threatens to destroy all he touches, is breaking down the portals between worlds. If left unchecked his darkness will bleed out from Alteria, poisoning the cosmos, leaving Piper and her friends as the last hope to save it.
The memories of what happened came through in jarring flashes.
Jolting. Phasing. Mom and Dad were dead, but weren’t. Kath and Nathan . . . just visions . . . Why does everything hurt?
Piper was seizing on the Phasing table when she came to, thrashing violently against her restraints. Above her the light panels had burst, inundating the whole Phasing chamber with the eerie blood red glow of emergency lights. Caretakers around her sounded frantic while sparks flew from a panel in one of the walls as though in celebration.
Amidst incalculable levels of pain and the sheer chaos of her surroundings, another needle was plunged into Piper’s neck, submerging her back into unconsciousness.
- - -
From all the medication they had pumped into her, even opening her eyes felt like deadlifting. Her body felt heavier as she lay on the mattress in her Cube, gravity exercising an unrelenting grip on her limbs. She tried to move, but the pain she still felt made her involuntarily cry out.
“Easy now.” said a voice to Piper’s right.
Finally managing to pry open her eyelids, Piper could see Caretaker Justice pulling out a small thumb drive from the digital tablet on her desk. Of course, she thought, not even painful hallucinogenic injections can excuse me from brainwashing homework.
Justice must have known that all Piper wanted was to sit up, for in moments the Caretaker was at her side, helping to ease her upwards. Normally Piper would have protested, but at present, she didn’t feel she had the strength.
Once Justice had successfully administered Piper all her proper medications, Piper found herself caught in a head rush that seemed to bring with it a flood of memories, and soon she was recalling what had led her to this disgusting state of fragility. Though she knew she may not get an answer, she ventured to ask, “What happened this morning?”
Justice remained silent at first, closing pill bottles and cleaning up the aftermath of Piper’s medications. Business as usual. When at last she spoke however, she folded her arms over her chest, as though the words she were about to say were something she wished she could hide from. It was not a stance typical of a Caretaker. Caretakers never looked this scared.
“There was a power surge during your Phasing session. Electricity cut to the whole building for a solid eight minutes. When it did, the other Charges . . . they got . . . inspired. The outage happened minutes after you were taken from Nutrition Sector 1, so many of the Charges who saw what you did followed your lead and seized the moment of confusion. They fought back.”
A silence hung between them as Piper processed the implications. Sterling. He would have been angry enough that they’d jolted her and hauled her away. What must he have done when the chance to lash back at them had come? Sterling, please don’t have been stupid, Piper thought, knowing full well her best friend had likely done the opposite.
“While you were unconscious . . . they issued a Sanctioned Retribution.”
Fantastic! A disturbing look into indoctrination that puts you on edge and immediately draws you to feel for Piper. Piper is portrayed with a clear voice and realistic reactions to outrageous situations. I love this story so far.
I could talk about the setting, or the characterization, or the premise. They are all well done, but that's not what stuck out to me. What stuck out to me was the almost musical quality to the writing. Elayna Mae Darcy has a rhythm to her words that pulled me in, and wouldn't let go until the chapter was done.
The first chapter is a conglomerate of good writing, world building and character development that I have never seen done so successfully in such a small amount of words. I care for Piper, her world, her friends... even for Caretaker Justice! Speaking of Piper, she is like a teenage version of Lyra, from the His Dark Materials trilogy, isn't she? Lovely read, I am ready for the rest of the book.
I've had the privilege to read this story, and I can assure that it's as gripping and wonderful as this opening chapter promises, complete with twists and turns that will keep you turning the pages. Elayna creates a realistic and convincing world that is well realised and one that you won't want to leave.
I'm so excited for everyone to get the chance to read this and learn more about Piper !