The Descent of Monsters

JY Yang. Tor.com, $3.99 e-book (160p) ISBN 978-1-250-16584-8
Yang exposes more of the nefarious workings of a fantasy world’s repressive government in the middling third novella of the constantly inventive Tensorate series (after The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune). Chuwan Sariman, a hardworking but underappreciated investigator for the brutal Protectorate, is assigned to write the official report on a gruesome massacre at the experimental Rewar Tang Institute, where one of the Protectorate’s weaponized animal hybrids escaped and killed the entire staff. Sariman quickly discovers she is only allowed access to a few records that limit her ability to understand what happened. Yang uses journal entries, redacted transcripts, and correspondence to involve the reader in the frustrating investigation process. After writing the sham report she realizes she was meant to create, Sariman goes rogue to discover the horrifying nature of the actual experiments and teams up with Cai Yuan-ning, the sister of one of the killed researchers, to relay the truth to the Machinist rebels. Yang’s focus on the mystery and slow revelations unfortunately shortchanges character development. Fans of the earlier works will continue to enjoy Yang’s crisp writing but will wish the series’ larger arcs received more than the minor incremental advances here. Agent: DongWon Song, Howard Morhaim Literary. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/14/2018
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