Heart of Dust: Death’s Embrace, Book 1

H.L. Moore. H.L. Moore, $3.99 e-book (213p) ISBN 978-0-648-27129-1
Moore’s entertaining futuristic romance tackles messy family dynamics and civil disobedience in a dystopian, semi-subterranean world. Bryson, the tyrannical archon, ignores concerns about the country’s highly lucrative but brutally unsafe coal mines and the miners’ extreme privation, so hotheaded and charismatic former foreman Doran Ó Seanáin and his Black Lung Gang orchestrate a massive strike. After an attempt to incite rebellion, a wounded Doran stumbles into the apothecary of taciturn but generous Nathaniel Morgenstern. Doran ducks the huge bounty on his head to visit his estranged adult daughter Grace, who’s living with the wealthy family her mother abandoned to marry Doran. He discovers she is engaged to the archon, a personal affront to Doran, who crafts a risky ultimatum for miners’ rights. Tensions among the gang leadership mount, and Doran’s increasing feelings for Nathaniel and frustrations with Grace cloud his judgments until the explosive conclusion. Moore’s worldbuilding could be slightly more fluid as she packs in Celtic mythology, a crypto-Jewish minority (to which Nathaniel belongs), and a complicated political situation, but her characters’ entangled relationships and Doran’s angst-free bisexuality keep everything feeling fresh. Shocking revelations and unfinished reforms pave the way for future books in this series that should appeal to fans of slow-burning desire and fights against oppression. (BookLife)
Reviewed on: 06/18/2018
Genre: Fiction
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