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Reviewed by Matt Lebois for Readers' Favorite
Adventure takes to the ‘Skies of the Empire’. In this adult fantasy novel from Vincent E.M. Thorn, humans live a life aloft to remain safe from the omnipresent threat of the Fae. Humans thrive in airborne cities anchored to mountaintops by protective iron, and some people live and work on airships, completely untethered. The first mate on the Dreamscape Voyager, Cassidy Durant is one day forced to commit a capital offense against her empire: making an agreement with a Fae. This act exposes her to new threats, but with the support of her captain and crewmates, it will lead to unexpected outcomes. Meanwhile, Zayne, mercenary and captain of the Scorpion, has his own mission, one that will have far-ranging effects for the entire empire, if not the whole world. When Cassidy and Zayne cross paths, more than just sparks will fly.
The opening chapter, featuring an airship battle with a dragon, left me breathless and full of questions about this new high fantasy setting. I loved the worldbuilding, with new details presented naturally through the characters’ experiences: the 26-hour days; food sources in a sky-bound world, where farming is the most dangerous profession; iron being literally more valuable than gold; the many uses for parts of dragons; songs, history, and technology all well thought-out. While the main conflict and stakes were slow to emerge, I found the setting continually intriguing, and the camaraderie of Cassidy and her “found family” crew was consistently a joy to read and held my interest while darker events were slowly unfolding. Younger readers should be aware that this book contains swearing and acknowledges the existence of sex, but otherwise I think all ages will thrill at this adventure. Sequel, please!