Note: This novella contains triggering subjects: rape, murder, being drugged and helpless.
The time and place
The Inc-Su Refuge and the space station Seclusion, our far future or an alternate version thereof.
The suspension of disbelief
Some races have psychic powers. Space travel exists. Humanoid aliens exist and have different life spans. Technology is advanced: regeneration gel baths, practice combat drones, cybernetic implants, genetic experimentation.
The short summary
Tyree is from a race that can kill people with sex. Said race makes clone creches, and Tyree is asked to stand in for another member of her creche to complete a diplomatic agreement. Mirsee did not have Tyree’s assassin abilities and lived as a dignitary, marrying the human diplomat Zander D’joren. Tyree now must masquerade as Mirsee until the treaty is concluded. She develops romantic feelings for Zander, which add complications to her mission.
Tyree is quite complex. She has ideas about what is appropriate for her and others and starts the story something of a prideful bigot. Her skills have kept her in good standing, but she’s asocial and rude. Her emotions are turbulent and brutal, her attempts to handle them clumsy because Su aren’t supposed to have emotions and feeling is new to her. The nightmare scene is troubling to her as it was to me. She may be a trained assassin, but her vulnerability is touching. She doesn’t make a very good guard, but she’s not trained as one. Tyree grows to understand Zander and some other humans, and it broke my heart (in a good way) to watch her grow, hurt, and be hurt. I want to know how she will deal with the world after the story’s end, because her life changes so drastically.
Pippa Jay uses evocative language. It’s a cut above the usual and immersed me in the setting. Nature, smells, tactile impressions are sprinkled in so the reader feels along with Tyree, almost in her body. I felt ‘there’ with everyone. The environments and secondary characters are detailed and compelling in their mysteries. This is an important factor to me. I didn’t cry, but I felt longing, horror, fear, and tenderness during the course of the story. That’s what does it for me: getting punched in the emotions.
I questioned why a grieving Zander falls in love with Tyree so quickly. We don’t know the details, because although the story is third-person, it is all from Tyree’s perspective. Zander is not a complete cipher, but he can easily distinguish between his late wife and Tyree. So what does he find compelling about her?
The end felt a little premature. Events with a great deal of emotional impact happen and I can only guess at the fallout. My hope is that the story continues so I can spend more time with the protagonists, Visaya, and Pevanne. Perhaps even with or from Zander’s perspective? He’s got to be experiencing some upheaval too.
Read if you
- Are in the mood for something dark and beautiful
- Like tortured protagonists
- Crave thorough immersion in books
Skip if you
- Want a fluffy lighthearted read or romp
- Don’t want to conflate sex and death
- Have trigger concerns mentioned up top
- Need to read both points of view in a romance
Disclosure and final thoughts
I won Keir by Ms. Jay in a raffle. As thanks for her generosity to the community, I bought and reviewed this story. I was not sure I would like the premise, but seeing the universe through Tyree’s eyes is a treat. I’d read any other stories set in this same world, or a continuation of this one.
Author site: www.pippajay.co.uk